My Pet Dragon, 5 November 2011, Market Market, Rosendale – a review

A few months ago, I wrote a glowing review of My Pet Dragon’s new album, Mountains and Cities.  Since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating seeing them perform live.  Saturday night I had my chance, and it was well worth the wait.  They played an hour long set at Market Market Cafe in Rosendale, consisting of both material off their album and newer songs.  The show was amazing and the playing was incredibly tight; even the newer material felt well polished.  The energy that front man Todd Michaelsen brought to the stage was off the hook, barely contained.  Watching his fingers on the fret board of his guitar was like watching a swarm of bees, or Brownian motion in microscopic particles, or modern dance; frenetic action which is ordered in some way that is impossible to describe in words, but produces amazing beauty.

During the show, I thought about something that Jim Morrison is rumoured to have said after an early Doors show.  The crowd was small (ie, single digits), and his girlfriend had asked him why he’d put so much energy into a show for such a small audience.  He told her it was because you never know when you’re playing your last set.  That was the sort of energy My Pet Dragon played with on Saturday; the energy of a band that is not holding back for any reason.

The only fault I can find with the show was that the space was too small to hold the sound.  While they played, I found myself thinking that there was too much percussion in the mix, but then realized that the drums weren’t being amped at all.  There was too much percussion because we were in a tiny room and drums are really, really loud.  So I couldn’t hear the guitars as clearly as I would have liked.  As grateful as I am to have seen them at such a small venue, a larger club would suit their sound very well.

Given the quality of their material, how well they play, and how much energy they bring to performance, I don’t think it will be long before they are playing much, much larger clubs.  So go see them now, while you still might have the opportunity to rub elbows with them before they go on.  It was a genuine pleasure to meet Todd and Reena before the show; it’s not often that I get to shake hands with rock stars of their calibre.

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