Every year there’s at least one “snowpocalypse.” In Atlanta this tragedy consists of is a couple millimeters of snow and ice that cause panic and a city shut down. This year’s snowpocalypse occurred when Mainland (an opener for emo Canadian Pop Punk Group Mariana’s Trench) were passing through and I was scheduled to hang out with them for a half hour.
Not one to pass up a free concert, I headed out to a friend’s house. I’ll be completely honest, I am not familiar with Mariana’s Trench but they aren’t my cup of tea from what I heard. However, that doesn’t mean they are bad because I am 30 years-old. I am well beyond that age of saying things like “that band like totally saved my life.” So, Trenchians (if that is what you’re called) don’t get mad, I’m just old.
While I was with my friend, I told her my fears of my going alone. So she made me a very strong drink that I chugged before I got into my uber. On the way to the venue I realized I was drunk and felt a sense of dread because I knew I’d be in line with a bunch of teens ready to see an emo pop band when I have no problem saying exactly what I’m thinking even when I’m sober. All that came to an end when Mainland’s tour manager Riley sent me a text and told me to meet the band for the interview inside. So I left the teens and snow to go inside.
Four leather jacket clad friendly smiley guys that look more like they should be working at Urban Outfitters instead of shredding hot fire from their instruments holding plates of food came inside and saw me sitting nervously on the stairs. “You want some food?” One guy offered me almost immediately. I politely declined. They introduced themselves as Mainland. Scared that I wouldn’t make any sense because of my intoxicated state, I just told the band that I was drunk.
“We get that and completely understand” guitarist and lead vocalist Jordan Topf said, “we like to have a good time too.” And that’s when the band and I got down to business.
For a band that has been around for a few years who Topf said are mainly inspired by British punk, pop and classic rock– they have a fresh, new sound and feeling to them. I don’t like to compare sounds because I think every person is unique but I’ll do you guys a solid and do it anyway. Live Mainland sound like a Hives/Arctic Monkeys/Bloc Party infusion and in the studio they sound much different with a radio friendly pop vibe. Even though Mainland has a completely different sound from Marianas Trench they were just happy to be there supporting an act with that level of experience in the industry.
“We are excited to be a supporting act for Mariana’s Trench this tour and are learning a lot each night,” Topf said, “they’ve been around for over a decade and are really nice guys. We are enjoying meeting all of the fans.”
Not only has the tour been a learning experience but the band has enjoyed seeing some strange sights.
“We usually try to do as much as we can when we are on the road and one of the weirdest things we’ve seen has been The Thing.” Guitarist Corey Mullee said, “and I can’t tell you about it. None of us can tell you about it. You just have to go see for yourself.”
Mainland along with big name rock bands Coheed and Cambria and Highly Suspect are in a genre minority with their label 300 which artists Fetty Wap, Young Thug call home. However, they couldn’t be signed to a more supportive label and hope to release more music in the next few years.
“Honestly I hope to be in the same we are in the same position as Mariana’s Trench and touring the world,” Topf said, “ we all really want to go to places like England and Australia.”
After hanging out with the guys of Mainland– I walked to the stage to stand in the pit. When I turned around, I laughed at the sea of teenage emos. How could a group of people love strangers playing music so much? I am so much better than them. I knew I was probably the only person in the crowd there to see the opener. When the lights dimmed and Mainland hit the stage that all changed.
All my judgment flew out the window and I started screaming like I was 13 again as I watched the boys storm through their set. Topf is a magnetic front man who ran around the stage and stood on top of the beam separating the audience from the stage countless times shredding his guitar. Each time, the crowd screamed with glee (myself included). He is one of the better live vocalists I’ve seen in the last five years. Drummer Joey Soulkowski reminded me of Sleater Kinney’s Janet Weiss by making everything look effortless and extremely easy transitioning through each song. Guitarist Corey Mullee fed off the audience while he strummed that skuzzy goodness. Honestly it’s hard to describe how fucking good Mainland are live so you’re just going to have to buy a ticket.
A woman tapped me on the shoulder during the show, “are you going to be here the entire time?” She asked. I told her no and that I was only there for the opener. She said “well that’s good considering we drove down from South Carolina to see Marianas Trench and stood in line for hours to be front row.” She pointed to her 10 year-old daughter who looked up at me with tears in her eyes and I felt bad. I went to make fun of all the teens there that have had “like had their lives saved by a band.”
Ultimately I realized that the little girl and I had something in common. “I know exactly what you’re feeling,” I told her looking her straight in the eyes pointing behind me to Mainland shredding on stage oozing all the cool. “This band like totally changed my life,” and we both screamed happily together. Dear Mainland, I want you to teach me how to be cool when they come back to Atlanta. Call me guys! Your new friend, Mary Lynn.
Following the set instead of paying the $8 on ITunes to get Shiner and Outcast which are their two EP’s available right now– I overpaid and bought them in person from Riley. The EP’s are great quality, poppy and a recommended purchase but don’t remotely compare to their live sets. So again, I suggest you see them before their tickets become unaffordable.
Mainland continues to support Mariana’s Trench:
Jan. 30- The Paramount, Huntington NY
Jan. 31- The Asylum, Portland ME
Feb. 2- Higher Ground South, Burlington VT
Feb. 4- House of Blues, Boston MA
For more information visit http://www.mainlandnyc.com/
Mainland’s “Not as Cool as Me”
story / Mary Lynn Ritch
photos / Irma Ali