Pop Rock Duo MISSIO’s Jam-Packed Set at Crescent Ballroom
By Ellena Whitfield
When the alternative-pop duo MISSIO announced they were to tour North America in this spring, I knew I had to cop myself a ticket. I consider myself a pretty big fan of the band; they’ve got an interesting style and they’re different from the majority of bands in their field right now.
MISSIO’s debut album, Loner, included many thought-provoking lyrics and clever spins on traditional art-pop music, and overall I just really enjoyed the record. With a sound like theirs, I’ve always figured that MISSIO would be an interesting band to see live. They seem like the type of band that would definitely put on a show when given the chance to, and so I was intrigued to find out what they had in store for The Loner Tour.
Accompanied by opener Morgan Saint, a solo pop-artist from New York, MISSIO hit Phoenix, AZ at none other than Crescent Ballroom, an ideal location for a car-less ASU Downtown student like myself.
The show began about 30 minutes behind schedule, which always puts a slight damper on the crowd (myself included). My excitement to see MISSIO made me unenthusiastic about having to stand through another half an hour of Morgan Saint’s set. However, the opener did not disappoint. She opened her small set with “YOU,” a song I had actually recognized from the radio. With a voice similar to Melanie Martinez, and a vibe similar to those of Halsey and Kailee Morgue, Saint’s psychedelic nature captured my attention almost immediately. She definitely fit the vibe of what I was expecting a MISSIO show to be like, and my lack of enthusiasm about her quickly turned into an excitement to go home and listen to more of her music later.
When the headliners finally took to the stage, they did not hold back. Opening their set with “Temple Priest”, an unreleased song, MISSIO completely shocked and rattled my conscious with a smashing opening performance. Having no prior knowledge of what “Temple Priest” sounds like, I just assumed the song was going to be slow, and something mysterious the band could introduce themselves with, but I was truly mistaken. The song was fast, heavy, and allowed lead vocalist Matthew Brue to make use of the stage right off the bat. Whatever somber feelings Morgan Saint left behind were quickly erased. The crowd was hyped, and we were ready to go.
Both Brue, and drummer David Butler, were dressed in all white, but Brue’s opening outfit was substantially more dramatic than his bandmate’s. A long cloth headpiece draped over his face and dragged across the floor on either side of him. The hood covered his eyes for the duration of the first few songs, and it wasn’t until they completed the second song of their set, “Twisted,” that he ripped the costume off and carried on with the show.
The duo was accompanied by another drummer who, with a white bandana tied across his face, remained a silent mystery for the duration of the entire show.
The members of MISSIO were very skilled at using their stage, no matter how small the space was. During “I Do What I Want,” Brue raced from left to right, got down onto his knees and screamed the lyrics into the faces in the front row. In another energized performance of “KDV,” Butler ventured out from behind his drums to slam his sticks onto the symbols. Even the set design seemed a little too grand for a show at Crescent Ballroom, but I definitely wasn’t complaining.
The band took a moment to tease the crowd after “KDV.” Brue addressed the fact that MISSIO does in fact have a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast,” and they receive constant comments on social media everyday, begging for them to play it live someday. He then said, “Well, we’re still not going to play it,” and backed away from his microphone. After letting the crowd whine and moan for a few moments, Brue shrugged, chuckled a “Just kidding!” into the mic, and the band rolled right into the cover.
MISSIO’s rendition of “West Coast” is much slower and electronically driven than the original, but nonetheless it is a great cover and I was stoked to hear it live. The lights went down for this song and a single spotlight shined on Brue. The crowd stood still, watching him in awe. The lead singer took this time to show off his vocal range, finishing off the song with a few powerful notes to carry out the last word.
Later on in the show, after MISSIO played their newest smash hit, “Everybody Gets High,” the band took some time to discuss some important matters with the crowd. Brue opened up about his past struggles with alcohol abuse and eluded that back to the theme of Loner. The album is about the hardships people are facing every day: anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc., and the purpose of both the record and MISSIO is to remind their fans that none of us are alone.
Brue’s speech was a great segue into a gentle performance of “Can I Exist,” a song he wrote at what he described as “a very low time in my life.” The crowd was once again silent and in awe. I was impressed with how seamlessly the band was able to switch tempos in between performances: one minute they were going absolutely crazy, and the next they were cool, calm, and addressing sensitive subjects.
Following the peacefulness of “Can I Exist,” MISSIO jumped right back into another upbeat jam, “I Don’t Give A…” complete with an interesting ode to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” mixed in at the end. The band really brought the crowd back to life with this one, shouting out, “I don’t give a —,“ and letting us all finish the sentence with a certain word I’m sure you can fill in on your own.
The band wrapped up their set with “Middle Fingers,” a MISSIO classic, followed by a debut of a brand new song, titled “Black Roses.” Brue hinted at the fact that new music may be dropping in the upcoming months when he explained that “Black Roses” was one of the six songs the band recorded back in January.
Overall the concert was definitely a night to remember. MISSIO provided their Phoenix fans with a jam-packed set, reaching all aspects of both their record and their sound with every performance. They have the ability to take their songs to the next level when performing them live, and you can tell from every detail they paid attention to, it was important to the band to make this tour as insane as possible. In terms of insanity, MISSIO definitely delivered.