Upon entering, The Lexington in London's Angel was already buzzing with activity. Sure, it was a Friday night, but this seemed different. Athens GA’s latest darlings, Mothers, were here to celebrate their new album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired’s release. Those enclosed within the walls were already bunched around the stage, but never did the atmosphere feel cramped.
Originally the solo project of vocalist Kristine Leschper, Mothers grew a small following within Georgia, before branching out into a 4-piece. With influences like math-rock, indie and post-punk, the possibilities and prospects for Mothers already look good, and with When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, the fruits of expanding already look like they are ripening.
When they proceeded to enter the stage, Mothers seemed strangely familiar, although not in a musical sense. In fact, their performance was personal to the point that you felt you knew them intimately after just a short time watching them. The way Leschper rocked back and forward on the balls of her feet while singing, for example, was much like watching a nervous friend perform for the first time.
With that familiarity, of course, comes a comparison to other artists – the offhand yet intense opening to ‘Lockjaw’, as well as the quick, regular changes of key and time signature later on in the set brought vivid images of Abbey Road era Beatles, and their honesty and unpredictability held some similarities to Warpaint. Mothers’ individuality is far greater than that of the music, however – most of their songs stretch out over 5 minutes, allowing the audience to connect with the slowly evolving material.
Though not at home, the whole band seemed incredibly comfortable within the environment – Leschper, while seemingly downcast when singing, looked pleasantly surprised at the warm reception, and the atmosphere became welcoming from both sides of the stage. The musical and emotional highlight came with ‘Too Small For Eyes’, a song Leschper dedicated to her mother, who happened to be stood about 10 feet in front of her. An unmistakeable hush fell as she uttered the words ‘I hate my body/I love your taste/bird stirring in my chest/you give and take away’. Compared to the rest of the set, the song was a quiet moment, a moment of confession, making the connection between artist and audience even greater.
A band or artist, whether they like it or not, is often labelled or defined by one key aspect. Be it lyrics, riffs or general attitude, an act that manages to gain popularity will normally have one key feature that propels them to wider audiences. With Mothers, it’s not always that simple: their inventive use of the band in a live situation and their expertise in song-writing are certainly notable aspects. When first hearing Leschper’s chameleonic vocal emerged from the haze, however, it was transfixing. Sometimes it shook and quivered, at other times it was a clear, anguished wail, interspersed with high-pitched catches in her throat.
It’s both a masterful combination of all the best indie vocal tricks and simultaneously the truest performance you’re likely to witness. More than most vocalists, everything Leschper sang, particularly in tracks like ‘It Hurts Until It Doesn’t’, was brutally real. When interviewed by Stereogum, Leschper struggled to explain the meaning of her lyrics, saying of ‘It Hurts Until It Doesn’t’: “I can talk a little bit about this one. It may not be terribly eloquent.”
In a live situation, the meaning is always startlingly clear, and certainly the people within the Lexington seemed to know exactly what she meant. With When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, Mothers have created something that expresses themselves intelligently and emotionally. With their live show, however, they have gone one better – they expressed the feelings of others just as well.
See our full photo gallery from the night.