Mas y Mas @ Trash Bar, 8-24-07
Even by my anemic standards, I should probably be covering concerts I attend less than three months after they happen. But a dropped laptop and a transcontinental voyage later, I'm here to make up for my lapses. Good thing too, because I really can't get over how great Mas y Mas is. Out of nowhere, they're swiftly becoming one of my favorite bands. Since being reunited with it, I've been spinning their full-length Proud Sponsors of Pepsi faithfully. I'm also revisiting their earlier EP, Latin Outreach, when I need a change. And when I find myself sardined into a crowded venue, listening to mediocre opening bands, I'm thinking back to that simpler time known as August 2007 when Mas y Mas stormed my town and knocked it on its ass.
The show was at midnight in a thinly attended bar basement. Didn't matter though. Once the band launched into their opening songs, the room sounded instantly full. The crunch and splatter of rough chords drowned out every distraction. I was taken aback, because this performance was pretty different from their recorded persona. Sure, the energy, the attitude, the swaggering rhythms were all there, but there was also a new single-mindedness on display. The band sanded down the quirks and soft touches of Pepsi in favor of power and volume. Short songs already under the three-minute mark thrusted out at clipped rates, clocking in at a frenzied two minutes. The drummer thrashed at his set vindictively, driving the pace with his sonic threats. We were barely given time to breathe; as one song ended, another was already being flung our way. Trading their signature smirk for pissed sneers, Mas y Mas played like they had twenty-four hours to live. It was awesome.
In some sense, it's ironic that songs crammed with pith and apathy would get boiled down with such workmanlike efficiency. And in their reinvented form, the sarcastic one-liners and bratty vocal tics did get lost in the shuffle. But since I don't care about hearing songs exactly as they appear on an album, it was worth the tradeoff. The major gain in Mas y Mas's frantic, hypercharged performance is that it highlighted how deeply their roots lie in punk. This was a show that affirmed the virtues of real independent music, in all its ugly, poor, loud, desperate, unsigned glory. It called back associations to the basement shows Minor Threat or Bad Brains once staged, an archetype which this DC-based band clearly draws inspiration from. Along with other higher-profile bands like No Age and Future of the Left this year, Mas y Mas have loudly reasserted that punk truly is an unkillable medium. All it takes to be resurrected is a few ratty garages and beer-splattered clubs, some amps and guitars, and the unequivocating need to leave rubble in your wake.
Mas y Mas is playing in Charlottesville, Virginia at Club Dust on November 17th. You can also stream their entire new album, Proud Sponsors of Pepsi, at their website here or better yet, buy it for a mere five bucks.
* MP3: "You Can't Play Without Ice" - Mas y Mas from Proud Sponsors of Pepsi
* MP3: "Pop Psychology" - Mas y Mas from Proud Sponsors of Pepsi [Buy it]
* Website: Rock So Tough