On its “Private Room Tour,” Have Mercy got comfortable at Cornerstone among a crowd of tattoos and light moshing last Sunday.
Guitarist Nathaniel Gleason recalled that last time the band played at Cornerstone, the group smoked copious amounts of marijuana before the show, noting, “It’s cool to be here not that high.”
The band showed a lot of personality onstage, whether through interactions with the crowd or by retelling stories from its tour experience so far. Announcing a new record coming out in April, lead singer Brian Swindle seemed so comfortable in front of the crowd that he had a hard time keeping the unreleased name of the album to himself.
At the beginning of the show, hearing Swindle was a bit difficult for the crowd — the nature of Have Mercy songs is to feature stylistically strained vocals. This style doesn’t translate so well in live performances. With each song he sang, however, the sound quality improved and all was well.
“When I Sleep” showcased Swindle’s perfected art of yelling and singing all at the same time. The building drums complimented the softness of the first half of the song, and the short guitar ornamentations added intricacy to the performance.
During the show, in the midst of more weed jokes, the crowd chanted “Welcome to California” and “Weed is life” at the musicians from Maryland. The band called weed “space broccoli,” and after taking a hit from an audience member, Swindle said, “Don’t text that to my mom” to Gleason.
Throughout all of “Ghost,” Swindle appeared to be both in pain and smiling at the same time, which is quite reflective of the post-hardcore genre itself. The atmospheric guitar set a somber mood for the beginning before rising in energy to meet the harder chorus.
Gleason felt the intensity of “Baby Grand” through his vibrant motions onstage, stomping around and swinging his guitar. The climax of the song had all the instrumentalists playing furiously before ending in a powerful fizzle-out of notes.
The only real disappointment of the night was the absence of many of the band’s most popular songs — “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” “Cigarettes and Old Perfume” and “Coexist,” just to name a few. The band may have done this to shed a light on some of its less well-known songs, but it was a bit of a letdown to fans who may not have been that familiar with every song of the band’s repertoire.
Have Mercy introduced a couple of new songs to the crowd, revealing a collection of completely open strums of the guitar. Not holding down any frets while playing is an unusual style, but it worked with the solid instrumental messiness of the song.
“Down,” a song off the softer side of the band’s upcoming release, will be the first track on the new album. The song features only Swindle and his guitar — it’s an emo ballad repeating the words “Love me like there’s nowhere to go.” It’s a sad boy anthem and has a much different tone than the group’s usual releases. The gentle song ends in a fierce yell, which was met by the crowd with loud cheers. The intensified moment fit well with the subtle building of the song, giving listeners an exciting taste of the new record.
The night ended with “Howl,” the fullest song the band had played thus far. The clear vocals and instrumentals showed that the concert had been building up to this moment. Have Mercy may not have been the headliner of this show, but the set definitely proved that the new release will bring big things.