Mineral-2014

While the past year highlighted some of the most monotonous events like Kim K’s nudes, Pharrell’s stupid hat and that one thing about a sick beat, it also validated an exciting comeback for the once esoteric, soft-spoken circle of the late-90s Midwest scene. Generally notable for approaching teen angst with delicate moroseness, bands like American Football (who announced their first reunion tour in 15 years), Braid (who released their first album in 16 years), and Sunny Day Real Estate (who released their first single in 14 years) were seen as a counter act to the aggressive post-grunge leftovers. Amongst those were also Mineral who, along with the resurgence, announced their first ever UK tour in nearly 20 years.

Mineral’s sound is rare, even in 2015. Their style blends Scott McCarver’s panicky guitars that recall more of an earlier Modest Mouse or Built to Spill than their grouped counterparts, with Gabriel Wiley’s unfittingly sporadic beats that are compensated with thunderous and crashing cymbals.

On top of that is Chris Simpson’s long, weeping vocals, which hides beneath his shaggy hair throughout the gig. Their contrasted elements result to an awkward crowd of teenagers, stuck in a limbo between trying to headbang to the brash riffs but finding it too slow and droning to properly pace themselves.

Now middle-aged and unkempt, the Texan four-piece are surprised by the quiet audience, curious as to how typical Friday nights in Southampton are in comparison. They humbly fill in the silences with jokes about thanking bassist Jeremy Gomez’s wife for letting them tour again before playing ‘Five, Eight and Ten’ from their pivotal ‘97 debut The Power of Failing, and gradually move onto their hits ‘&Seranading’ and ‘LoveLetterTypeWritter’ from their final album ‘Endseranading’.

The way their songs bleed into each other resonates seamlessly as a bedtime lullaby but turns out to be dreary when standing for more than an hour. Mineral are a unique breed of musicians who have achieved a higher quality that sounds most profound in complete solitude than any other settings. If going to their show confirms anything, it’s that they are a band that is meant to be heard, not seen.

Kialha Nakahara

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