Brooklyn boy-girl duo MS MR gave a dazzling performance at Toronto’s Wrongbar that shows they’re worthy of the current hype they’re receiving as the hottest new thing.
Following the quiet release of just four tracks on Ghost City USA in the summer of 2011, and with their identities shrouded in secrecy for over a year, the buzz has been slowly building about Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow. With highly inventive production and Plapinger’s grand, Florence-esque vocals, the question on my mind was whether this seemingly studio-centric twosome would be able to translate their sound to a live space.
No fear, then, as MS MR smashed it live on stage, giving us a show as visually indulgent as it was aurally pleasing: the glitzy backdrop and ever changing coloured lighting served as a gaudy canvas for Plapinger’s bold print leggings, sparkly platforms and flame-red hair, as well as Hershenow’s Butlins-inspired red blazer.
Setting the tone by opening with fan favourite Bones, highlights of the night included a surprisingly effective, touching rendition of big ballad BTSK, and later the duo sneaking in a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s Dance Yrself Clean. Plapinger doesn’t retreat into the grandiose sound when she’s performing either: she fixes her gaze on the audience, and from her expression she clearly means every word she’s singing. The pair also seemed genuinely thrilled by the audience reaction, evidently still reeling from their new-found success: indeed, Hershenow remarked how it was just two years ago that he and Plapinger started recording music together in his bedroom. This was their cue to launch into their cover of Patrick Wolf’s Time Of My Life – apparently the first song they recorded together. How far this talented twosome have come in such a short space of time.
Unfortunately, what threatened to spoil an otherwise excellent gig was the inattentiveness of the crowd: the noise level throughout this small venue would have rivalled a Greek restaurant on a busy Saturday night, leading me to wonder why you’d pay to come see a band you had no interest in actually listening to – especially a band like MS MR, whose music is so immersive that it demands close attention. The annoying habit of recording songs on iPhones and immediately posting the video to Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr accompanied by a lengthy update leads me to believe some people were so irredeemably hipster that their sole function in coming to an MS MR gig was merely for the sake of showing others that they’d gone. I know it’s a cliche to get in the obligatory hipster-bash when you go to see a band with such ‘cool’ credentials as MS MR, but I am literally at a loss to explain the behaviour of some members of the audience last night and this is the only conclusion I can come to.
What a shame. MS MR deserve better than this and hopefully next time I get to see them – and there will be a next time – there won’t be any such distractions and we can enjoy an incredible show from a duo with a bright future. They’re currently on tour, so be sure to check out the dates for a show near you.