Editor’s note: In what was billed as Morningbell’s only show of 2014 and possibly their last show ever with its current lineup, Morningbell put on a performance for the ages at Loosey’s on Friday night.

by Tyler Francischine

You know that one douchebag at your job who’s always yammering about how there’s no real talent or scene in Gainesville, and we all have to move to a real city like New York or Los Angeles to see quality art?

That guy wasn’t at Loosey’s last night.

The line-up of Morningbell, Pseudo Kids, and Michael Claytor and Sam Moss electrified the room and created one of those rare whirlwinds of feeling that unites audiences.

Michael Claytor and Sam Moss opened with their mixture of warm, homey ballads and outlaw blues. In the first of many instances of nostalgia that would characterize the night, they played “The New River,” a song about a bicycle that hearkens to the Flaco’s back room days of yesteryear. They also played songs from Michael’s recent release My Trespasses, like the gorgeous “Pines, Pines, Pines” and “Annabelle,” a song that Michael says is the weirdest he’s ever written, which is probably true, seeing as its main character may be alien or angel or both.

Next, Morningbell played their last live set of the year. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut album, Learning by Musical Montage, they performed songs that most (if not all) the audience had never heard live before. Songs like “Lightningbolts,” “Mars (It’s Alright),” and “I Found Jesus (Hiding Underneath The Bed)” showcased their penchant for parentheses and the raw talent and melody-building skills they possessed a decade ago. And “The Dope Illusion” shredded so hard. At the end of “Jesus,” singer and guitarist Travis Atria led the crowd in singing a melody, the same sing-along melody I cautiously hummed during my first Morningbell show in the fall of 2007.

They played up-tempo dance numbers like “You Think I Don’t Know, But I Know” and “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads,” but the rawest, most realest part of this performance came at the end when they performed songs from the 2013 opus Boa Noite. “Yes, Wonderful Things” and “Listen” show just how far this band has come in a decade. These songs don’t take place in the farthest reaches of outer space; they come from within, and their honesty elicits similar emotional upheaval from listeners.

Scott Kauffmann, who sings and plays guitar for Pseudo Kids, says Morningbell is the only local band to make him cry. Annie Neimand, who sings for Heart Burglars, says,” I imagine the hope for any musician is to be able to communicate your feelings and experiences with your audience, and maybe even move them. This is where Morningbell excelled. I remember one night Travis played a forever solo, I think on Purple Rain, and I cried the whole time. You could hear his life, experiences and feelings in every note.”

On “You Needn’t Have Bothered,” Travis performed perhaps one of his best forever solos, which alternatively scares and soothes. In some parts, the high screams of his guitar connote panic, anxiety, as if it’s calling for help, or just calling out from the abyss. Is there anybody out there? But then the soulful low notes murmur to you that everything’s going to be just fine. The moment after Travis finishes his solos, there’s no air left in the room and brains scramble to remember basic motor skills.

When you become close with supremely talented people, you can forget the powers they hold inside them – the near-divine trances, the ecstatic energy, the call only they can hear. But it’s these abilities that separate true talent from the rest. When the first notes of “Goodbye and Goodbye and Goodbye and Goodbye” hit, I was transported, against my will, to the dark emotional place I was many months ago. Thankfully, a deep inhale and exhale is already written into the song to remind me how to breathe.

The trip down memory lane continued for the closing song, the title track off of Learning. The brothers Atria donned their Christmas light jackets once more and after a technical delay, Travis’s jacket finally lit up and he let out a triumphant grin, the proud kid who beat the piñata’s head off.

This set made me realize that Morningbell’s music has provided the soundtrack for so many years of life. When those songs are played, close your eyes and you’re transported back. You look down at your shoes to remind yourself of the current time and date. These songs are markers of how much time has passed, how much has changed, how much we’ve grown, how much wiser and closer and happier we all are. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and last night’s audience drank from the cup heavily.

Pseudo Kids closed out the night with a high-energy set. This group of dudes is great at playing really loud and really hard while still maintaining a tight sound. They played songs from their entire catalog, including a new one that will never cease to remind me of “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock. (Watch the first Austin Powers.)Fletcher Yancey and Scott Kauffmann take turns with lead vocals and guitar, and though their influences and temperaments differ, they share mental energy, allowing them to create a cohesive sound that incorporates vast musical styles. The last song played that night was a cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place,” which I can remember hearing back in 2009 at my first Pseudo Kids show.

When the show was finished, the crowd shouted for a second encore, a ridiculous request at 1 in the morning, but that was the kind of show we witnessed. Our spirits were high, anything was possible.

Editors Note: Although Morningbell was the headliner, it is sometimes their practice to have a supporting band close the show. 

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