Photographs by Sarah Rix.
New York duo MS MR (pronounced Mizz Mister in human speak) held a Thanksgiving long weekend dance party in Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall to commemorate all things turkey (and their second album, How Does It Feel). The eighties and nineties-tinged soundwaves, holographic stage décor and members Max Hershehow and Lizzy Plapinger’s bouncy stage presence made it easy to answer the pop groove call of “Tripolar”, “Reckless” and “Criminals” off of that album; yet, the immense power and depth of Plapinger’s voice was the true guiding star of the evening.
Lest we not forget openers Vérité and Jack Garratt, who are pillars of dynamism in indie-electro-pop. Vérité was equal parts charming, commanding and delicate for her third gig in Toronto. Her half-hour set drew from her EPs Echo and Sentiment and included pop-ballad “Heartbeat” and her breakout hit “Colours”, the latter a completely mesmerizing showcase of Vérité’s range. Jack Garrat showed a similar sense of finesse in his performance, which slowly became all the more impressive as he navigated sound boards, guitar and a vocal garden of folk, soul and R&B for a one-man set. Think of SBTRKT meets James Blake; though even that is an approximation given his ability to elevate disjointed but complex electronica.
Both Vérité and Garratt contrasted nicely to MS MR’s musical turn, who found inspiration in their audiences. “As we wrote this song we imagined singing it with you,” said Hershehow as he introduced “How Does It Feel?”. A few attempts to have the audience sing the title words with them raised energy levels, but the haunting, ethereal memories of MS MR circa their 2013 debut, Secondhand Rapture should still be your reason to visit MS MR in a live setting. “Dark Doo-Wop”, “Think of You”, “Bones” and break-out hit “Hurricane” were punchy, strong and a clear cut path to moody, at-times hair-raising moments defined by Plapinger’s shape-shifting vocals. MS MR’s upbeat facelift was fun; but their darkness was more enticing.