The air inside Neurolux was startlingly crisp this past Wednesday night. The bar's usual smoky fog didn't hang like mini cartoon storm clouds over brooding heads. On a Sharpie-scrawled note taped to the front door, the words "no smoking" and "no Cameras" furrowed concertgoers' brows and stuck an accusing pointer finger at all who forked over 10 bucks for the Mirah and Tender Forever show. That should have been the first clue things were going to be a little off.
Though I've been a Mirah fan since my college days, I've never had the opportunity to catch a live performance. How would her confessional, singer-songwriter strum and imagery-laden songs translate with a live band? It turns out, really well. If she would've stopped bitching and played them.
Only once, as an audience member, can I remember being chided by a band to shut up. Mirah did it three times, maybe more. I lost count after she verbally slapped the audience on the wrist, asking everyone who was listening to please raise their hands. At that moment I decided it was time for a self-imposed time-out on the porch. In a huddle with the evening's outcasts—the talkers and the smokers—we mulled over the energy emanating from the stage and came up with an oral, concertgoer's Magna Carta of sorts:
1. If we pay to see a show, we should not be told how to experience it.
2. If your music lends itself more to quiet, focused entrancement, do not play Neurolux.
3. If you rock solidly enough, people will always pay attention.
But that said, Mirah's music was stellar, backed by a full band with occasional bongos and a clarinet. She played most of the songs off of her new album (a)spera and then threw in some classics like "Cold, Cold Water" toward the end of the set. Though the show was also punctuated by frequent sound checks (Mirah: "Can you make my voice sound like Darth Vader ... got castrated?) and faulty monitors, the band members kept things entertaining with a few bad jokes. Unfortunately, I arrived right after Tender Forever played, but I heard glowing reviews of her charming French-meets-K Recs pop. (Melanie Valera: "I am so excited to be in Boi-see!") Though it was the last night of Mirah's tour, and I'm sure the band was exhausted and ready to go home, I wished Mirah would've sucked it up and played her heart out for all the fans who'd waited years to see her live. Even if, like me, they were slightly drunk and chatty.