Sometimes dating coworkers leads to disaster, sometimes it leads to tightly arranged and perfectly harmonized riffs.
The Mates of State, a husband-wife duo from Lawrence, KS, land in the latter category. Backed by a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, the band performed Monday night at the Beachland Ballroom. The set list straddled the band's past and present, weaving together old hits from their days at the University of Kansas with material from their latest album, Mountaintops.
Kori Gardner, on the keyboard, and husband Jason Hammel, playing drums, performed the band’s repertoire with a seamlessness stemming from intimate familiarity. “Ha Ha” from the album Team Boo, “My Only Offer” from Re-Arrange Us, and a variety of songs from Mountaintops like “Palomino” and “Sway,” highlighted a set list that had a roomful of faithful fans engaged from the beginning.
The Mates brought a familial feeling to the stage that is quintessentially “Midwest."The pair traded smiles and affectionate quips in the breathing room between songs. The bright energy rarely dipped — a surprise, considering Monday evening’s show concluded a two-month tour across the United States And, unlike your usual band — who pass through road runs cycling interchangeable gigs and hangovers — the Mates take their parental duties with them: their two young daughters were also on the tour bus, a parenting oddity that resulted in Kori's ongoing blog, Band on the Diaper Run.
It's clear the Mates of State find inspiration from the unique fusion of music, intimacy, and family. The product is a harmony that sings of a shared and beautiful experience. — William A. Doyle