Photos by Carolyn Hanson
Market Hotel has been selling out a lot of their shows recently, and their 8/3 show featuring Nicole Dollanganger, Teen Suicide, and Elvis Depressedly was no exception. I arrived at the start of the first set, while Nicole Dollanganger was onstage, and spent what seemed like the entirety of the time she was there weaseling my 5’4″ frame through the crowd just to get a view — people were already packed 30-deep around the admittedly tiny stage. By the end of her (beautiful) set, I appeared to have found my spot, though, and was ready for the next act.
I will confess, I’ve flirted with listening to Teen Suicide’s music in the past, and nothing has particularly grabbed me; I don’t know why this is. It likely has nothing to do with the band itself, and more to do with the timing and headspace in which I was listening to them. But onstage at Market Hotel, the Baltimore, MD, boys managed to grab me in a way that was genuinely surprising. Sam Ray, in all his Nike-bejoggered, Timberland-wearing glory, is an incredible frontman, and managed to get the crowd…moshing? To indie-pop? Something that I’m certain happens occasionally but have not seen unironically in my lifetime. Somehow, though, it worked, as the band’s live presence puts forth an all-encompassing, ecstatic energy that their music does not.
At the end of Teen Suicide‘s set, a major shift occurred — the teenagers that had been in the front the entirety of the show made way for the slightly older Elvis Depressedly crowd. The performance that had largely been crowd-facing turned inward, as everyone stood silently to watch indie staple Mat Cothran and the rest of his band perform an incredibly emotionally-provoking set, which at one point (during “Ease”) left me in tears. They played across the expanse of their vast discography, making sure to bring in songs that would please long- and short-term fans. This was my second time seeing the band, and yelling the refrain to “weird honey” along with the rest of the crowd (“If there’s a cold spot in hell, I hope you get it/If there’s a cold spot in hell, I know you’ll get it”) was as powerful as it was during their last play at Shea Stadium.
I will forever be impressed by Elvis Depressedly, and to a certain extent, all of Mat Cothran’s musical projects, for the emotional connection they seem to make with those who listen to them. Their lyrics manage to be overwhelmingly personal, not just for the band but to anyone exposed. This is an effect that’s typically lost live, surrounded by other people, but Elvis Depressedly manage to make you feel like you’re in your own little world, even when you’re singing the same lyrics with hundreds of other people. They create an experience that is both communal and deeply individual — the way any great show will make you feel.