Mellowdrone’s two opening songs “Oh My” and “Beautiful Day” begged the question: “Was today really that wonderful…or beautiful?” Maybe it was the commute to Long Beach that had me riled up, maybe it was the chemtrails in the sky that morning. Point aside, it didn’t take long for that familiar blast of high-energy, distorted melodies to awake me from my smog-induced cynicism. There is something so satisfying about the way in which singer Jonathon Bates lulls you into a kind of tainted dream world with his deep, echoing vocals that seem to engulf you, coming from all directions. Then, like a splash of freezing cold water, the crushing distortion rushes you into an exciting adventure, to a different place inside your head every time. The past two shows I caught at Spaceland and the Echo involved visuals which were projected over the three band members as they played. At the time, I definitely enjoyed the eye-candy, but it was refreshing to see them perform this time without distractions. Que Sera has a smaller stage about a foot off the ground, which ends up giving the band a vulnerability that is reminiscent of watching your friend’s band play in a garage next door. The modest equipment and Tony DeMatteo’s knicked-up Fender also added a confident, yet possibly unintentional “Fuck you, I do what I want” mindset that I have come to appreciate in any band, and which makes Mellowdrone especially endearing. After having seen drummer Brian Borg walking—or should I say towering—over fellow band members and bar-goers before the show, I must admit I was surprised that he fit behind the drumset on the stage. Nevertheless, the bouncy beats emanating from his direction kept me dancing the entire time as they weaved a playful tone through each song. There were a few newer songs, but “Fashionably Uninvited” remained a staple in their set list—definitely worth the trip to Long Beach, past the chemtrails and all.
— Taylor Loftin