Actionesse & Mirrorgloss: bruised knees, happy me

Actionesse and Mirrorgloss at Drunky Two Shoes
Actionesse at Drunky Two Shoes (Photo by Christine Mitchell)

It took well over an hour to get down to White Center and Drunky Two Shoes BBQ, but I didn’t care. There had been some sort of gas leak incident, so we couldn’t get grub at first, but I didn’t care. I sat on my stool with my belated BBQ sammy, looking around and feeling high, though I’d barely begun my beer. Live music was back, and I had a camera in the bag at my feet. My loves Actionesse were headlining, and Mirrorgloss was set to open the night up in a very sultry way. And I got a hug from Obi of Actionesse. Do you remember hugs? Actually, I think that that yummy hug set off the high that I felt, because it was real and I had missed hugs so much.

I saw people that I knew and hadn’t seen in over a year and more. I saw people that I only knew from social media and introduced myself to them, real-life style. Earlier in the week I had been sort of fretting about this event; I’m a confirmed introvert and being in forced-hermit status for so long made me worry. Had I forgotten how to people? But it turns out that I’m still the same old awkward, shambling ninja of yore. Words have never come out of my mouth as well as my fingers. But it felt great.

Drunky’s outdoor space has been revamped for outdoor dining and shows, with cement replacing the old graveled area, and corrugated fiberglass hoisted aloft to keep the elements at bay. It was perfect on this summer evening. The stage looked much the same as ever, the cowboy-cum-logger via Led Zeppelin/Jesus look added a very specific ambiance. It didn’t relate much to the impending show but was definitely interesting to look at, at least until the music started.

Mirrorgloss made me dance. Like, seriously, put my camera away, tucked under a picnic bench and DANCE. Najah Monique Todd, Del Brown and LBSTR DelaHoya pulled the crowd in with their infectious attitudes that were paired perfectly with their powerful voices and smooth pop beats. The evening air was a touch warm, so Naja produced a large, gorgeously decorated church fan that was also a fantastic stage prop as it waved back and forth. LBSTR was all business in the back, cool as a cucumber in his shades as the two front women held court in the front, gripping the attention of those present and hypnotizing their hips into movement. My god, it was great.

Actionesse was supposed to spend the spring of 2020 touring the West Coast, but you can guess how that turned out. The article announcing their tour was the last music piece I wrote for well over a year. So it only felt right to make this night, their first live show post-pandemic, my first review. Though frankly, it kinda seemed like no time had passed, with the exception of the fact that Paddy Moran’s spot, the much beloved bassist of the band, was being filled by one James Prow of Flesh Produce. Prow has been in the band for a year now, but of course, this was his first live outing with Actionesse (he has played in several of the band’s live streams). And he brought his own brimming-over cup of energy to a set that was exploding with the same.

The various tables spread across the concrete became extensions of the stage as Ian Reed climbed up for swirling guitar solos. Obi hauled Stannis, the baritone saxophone, onto the tables time and time again, raising the sax high into the sky while folded up backwards on the 2x4s. Drummer Jimmy Colven mostly spent his time beating his kit into submission and sweating everywhere (masterfully), but took some time to come out to the tables to pour a Tecate into Obi’s mouth as an offering. Yeah, it was a wild time. Prow took a flying leap off the bass drum. Reed jumped a lot just in general. I think they were a little excited. Heck. We ALL were.

And the music was great, featuring mostly tracks off The Deep, Bright Below but ending with an encore of “Shark Hunting,” off Actionesse’s first EP, Mignon. I remember shooting the release show for that EP, long ago at the High Line. They’ve come a long way since that time, and they’ve continued to grow and become stronger over time. Now that live music is back, it’s going to be fascinating to see where they go from here.

Actionesse headlines The Tractor next month on Saturday, August 7th with support from Velvet Q, Bad Optics, and Dining Dead, and will feature Prow on tuba and special guest Paddy Moran back on bass for a limited time! If you can’t catch that one, they will be at Substation on August 28th with the great Black Ends. Bein’ there.

Christine Mitchell has been poring over album liner notes pretty much since she acquired the skill of reading, and figured out the basic structure of rock songs at an early age. Whether it’s the needle popping into the first groove of the record, the beeps that signal the beginning (or end) of a cassette tape, or digital numbers ticking off the seconds from zero, music brings Christine happiness, ponderous thought, opportunities for almost scientific study, and sometimes a few tears. When she started attending live shows two decades ago, a whole new piece of the puzzle clicked in and she has been hooked ever since.