Kori Gardner, one half of the quirky pop duo Mates of State, does not have fond memories of their April opening gig for the Strokes.

“The last time we played in Detroit, somebody threw a bottle at me,” she scoffed to the half-full crowd of shaggy, beaming youngsters at Friday’s show. Kori made sure to cover up her spiteful comment with a rush of compliments. “But I hear in Detroit that means we love you!” The crowd obliged and happily brushed off her stage banter in eagerness for the next frantic pop gem.

Mates of State were out on a special date Friday, to prove that a male-female duo could indeed create wonderfully layered, spastic love songs without a guitar. The San Francisco couple, who married in 2001 and took their eccentric mix of organ and drums on the road, played like it was a cozy movie night in their living room. Like other rock spouses such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, Mates truly play off each other’s swaying rhythm and inside jokes for an entertaining night of indie pop. Drummer/vocalist offered wildly danceable disco beats and nasally yelps amid wife Kori’s undeniably sweet and honest vocals.

Noticeably lacking a lead singer, Mates embodied everything that is remarkable in a musical duo. Nearly every word was sung together, either in harmony or in playful singsong, while surprisingly pounding bass lines and melodies were provided by Kori’s complex organ riffing. The crowd, though lacking in attendance, sang along with nearly every word and added to the family-like setting created by the amorous couple onstage. Listeners couldn’t help but smile at the playfully loving gestures and glances Kori and Jason shot back-and-forth to each other mid-song.

The duo, who welcomed their first child over the summer, ran through material from their three full-length records and variety of EP’s. Near the end of the set, they called on openers Bishop Allen and Pas/Cal for a collaboration on “Along For the Ride,” from their newest All Day EP. Though they left out their notorious cover of David Bowie’s “Starman,” the crowd danced joyously throughout the entire set.

The Mates of State rounded out a night of vocally soaring harmonies and crashing drums with a modest thanks, retreating from the stage quietly. Relentlessly touring in small club settings, they seemed all too content with their current musical status — playing intimate shows to appreciative friends — and not filling up the local large music venue. Their overt honesty and cutesy banter left the crowd longing for a chance to be part of the family.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *