Concert review: AJR w/ mxmtoon and almost monday | 07.06.24, Enterprise Center (with photo gallery)

Photo of AJR by Erica Vining

AJR truly took over Enterprise Center truly with a “BANG!” on Saturday, with a visually stunning set that I was so impressed by that I immediately went home and replayed the entire concert on YouTube for my husband. There were hydraulics, hanging people, confetti, fog, and an abundance of interactive LED displays that made the crowd feel as if they were in space or underwater, and at times falling.

Before I dive into a brief recap of the three songs I was privy to, I would be remiss to not shout out the sheer amount of female talent onstage Saturday. Despite being male-fronted, AJR blessed the audience with violinist Ginny Luke and trumpeter Arnetta Johnson, who were showstoppers in their own right. It didn’t end there though! Opener mxmtoon, a.k.a. Maia, was joined on stage by drummer Val Sepulveda as well as guitarist Jenn Soulo.

The night’s opener, almost monday, was the perfect choice to bring a building crowd to their feet. The energy on stage gave me pause several times to just admire how well the band worked together to create music. Often instrumentals can get lost in backing tracks and behind vocals, but almost monday does a great job at making sure everyone is heard. The eclectic threesome from San Diego was flanked by vibrant yellow and blue lights so bright that vocalist Dawson Daugherty required his sunglasses most of the set. Daugherty wasn’t limited to vocals, however, snagging his vivid blue guitar during the third song of the set, “Cough Drops,” with its perky vocals and Måneskin-esque bass riffs courtesy of Luke Fabry. Daniel Griffo rounded out the band on drums, hiding in the shadows at the back of the stage but making himself known with punchy, upbeat kicks.

mxmtoon followed almost monday with an aesthetically beautiful set that had me racing home to edit photos. Beautiful lighting accompanied the *nearly* all female band, with Matthew Kuo on keys/bass being the lone male member of the band. Vocalist Maia addressed an excited crowd before launching into several of her popular songs including “Prom Dress” off her debut album The Masquerade. Another vibrant set, the lighting on Saturday toed the line of overwhelming without ever crossing it, commanding attention but leaving sparkles behind your eyelids every blink. Maia brought out her ukulele during her third song of the night which saw more subdued lighting but continued the high energy theme of the night.

I’ll admit I went into AJR’s set blind with no pre-show research, and was wholly unprepared for the level of theatrics I was about to witness. I have been to a lot of shows with impressive stage displays, but AJR may take the top prize with The Maybe Man Tour. The crowd was plunged into darkness before an arced LED board dropped to the stage, completely obscuring everything behind. The next several minutes were more cinematic than musical as the audience was questioned on where they would go if they could choose anywhere at all? A free-floating hand and an ominous voice beckon us to the bottom of the ocean then propelled us into space, with many memories in between. As the LED set lifted from the stage, we were introduced to Jack Met of AJR singing “Maybe Man.” Or, were we? Jack was spotlighted briefly before the light moved to…Jack Met of AJR on the opposite side of the stage. Each “Jack” gave us a line of the song before we were treated to another doppelganger, some on stage and one even hanging from the rafters. Confusion quickly turned to humor as I worked to pick out the real Jack Met before the lights dimmed and the three brothers are literally launched onto the stage via hydraulic lifts hiding in the floor. Truly one of my favorite openings I’ve ever seen live. “Maybe Man” transitioned to “Sober Up” next with psychedelic video boards behind Ryan Met stage right on keys/ukulele and brother Adam Met stage left on bass. AJR had many talented instrumentalists on stage with them, but they remained shadowed through the opening songs before coming front and center for the third song of the night, “Yes, I’m a Mess.” The song again utilized the video boards, this time opening with a white picket fence scene before Jack takes an LED elevator into the air, taking his place about ten feet above his band below. The graphics morphed into interactive scenes such as Jack walking along a sidewalk singing, carrying a torch, and my favorite, riding a bicycle. It was an impressive mind game using multiple mediums and I hope their graphics team is recognized for the art that was on stage. Unfortunately, I was limited to the first three songs of the night, but honestly left feeling as if I’d witnessed an entire set. If you get the chance to catch AJR on tour, I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity.

In the spirit of The Maybe Man Tour, I’ll throw it back to the question the band asked at the beginning of their set. Where would you go if you could go anywhere at all? Saturday night that answer was right there in that narrow pit at Enterprise Center, front and center for the artistry that is AJR. | Erica Vining

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