State shines in U.C.


Mates of State, the husband and wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, followed up two opening acts in the Great Lakes Rooms with a percussion-driven lesson in vocal harmony.

Along with a guitar/trumpet/auxiliary percussion player at the back of the stage, the couple rolled through the majority of their 2008 release, “Re-Arrange Us,” with a set list consisting of “Get Better,” “Now,” “The Re-Arranger,” “Jigsaw” and “My Only Offer.” Thrown into the mix were fan-favorites, “Fraud in the 80s” and “Like U Crazy” off their 2006 album “Bring It Back” and “Ha Ha” from 2003’s “Team Boo.”

The band name Mates of State comes from the likeness between its founding members, and that’s apparent live. They’re everything a two-person band — and a marriage — strives to be: complimenting styles and a strong relationship that’s based on give and take.

Throughout the show, their lyrical back-and-forth was on point, their harmonies executed to perfection. With only Hammel’s drum kit and Gardner’s organ, the two were able to create a vast electric sound that filled the U.C.

For audience members, there was little difference between the sound from the albums and the live show. The only change was Gardner’s voice live; her lyrics simply had more emotion behind them. Sounding beautiful and haunting, she hung onto notes with ease.

For the song, “Like U Crazy,” Gardner brought a chill to the room when she held the final note of the line, “All the things that make you better.” Like using paddles on a dying patient, she kept the notes vibrant when they could have been long expired.

Blame it on the Red Bull that Hammel said he needs for their touring lifestyle, but whatever it was, the performance was focused. Both played the majority of the show eyes shut, swaying to the beat, and the long bangs of Gardner’s blonde hair covered her face as she moved to the music.

The band’s encore, “These Days,” a cover of a Nico song, was the lone change of pace in the set. Hammel left his drum set and stood center stage, mic in hand, and when his vocal portion wrapped up, he went in for a kiss. Gardner responded by turning her cheek and smiling.

The husband, father and musician then returned to his drum set for a seemingly improvisational piece, which slowed to the finale.

After Thursday night’s show, if there’s any doubt that Mates of State has the chops, reference back to the lyrics of “The Re-Arranger:” “You should try to shake it off.”