Located in the heart of downtown Spokane sits what might possibly be the most ill coordinated bars on earth. Yes, for an act to play “Baby Bar” (the actual bar area only being a 12 ft by 12 ft room), actually means you will be squeezing you and your gear into a devastatingly small spot next to a couple of pinball machines in the burrito restaurant that makes up the majority of the building (Neato Burrito, without a doubt the best burrito in Spokane.) But, for the likes of Jared Mees & The Grown Children, it’s just another setting for these folk-oriented indie rockers to showcase their irrefutable talent as not only brilliant musicians, but as a live act that is not to be missed when they pass through your city.
The versatility of Jared Mees and friends is definitely what makes them such a unique band to watch strut their stuff. Only a week prior to their coming to Spokane, the Grown Children performed in San Diego to a crowd of 700. On this chilly Wednesday night, the crowd might have been somewhere around 30. But, all stipulations aside, this is a packed house! And the odds that there are many Jared Mees virgins in the crowd are very high. What would be the end result? An entire house screaming, clapping, and overtly jumping for joy to their happy go lucky sing along tracks that simply scream good times, even if the songs are more oriented towards despair.
Jared Mees somehow, probably inadvertently, knew exactly how to be a Portland band passing through Spokane. Their set list was specifically designed to catch the attention of Lilac City natives. They kicked off their set with a few of their more uplifting tracks to include their stellar cut “Tallest Building in Hell”. And just over half way through the show the pulled out a secret weapon that will gain the love of any Spokanite. A cover. And not just any cover. A fucking Weezer cover! Yes, it was the well known “Sweater Song”, but it was the Grown Children’s version of the hipster’s “Hotel California” that was compelling to say the least and really drew the attention of everyone within a half mile radius. Or so it seemed as the breathing room at Neato Burrito/Baby Bar became more and more dense. This is how you get into the hearts of a city full of people who are geographically void of a yearning for too much change. Whether they knew it or not, they played a perfect show for the highlighted location in the somewhat desolate Inland Northwest. But, what would be the highlight of the evening? The highlight was easily when the boys (and Meg!) decided to pull out one of their older and possibly their best track to date, “Strong Black Coffee”.
Yes, a Wednesday night has never been so sweet here in the Lilac City. The Tender Loving Empire’s emperor was in full effect, and his latest round of Grown Children proved just as relentlessly entertaining as well. Although the stage might not have been as large and emasculating as the more hipster friendly spots in his hometown, Jared Mees proved that all audiences were created equal, and all deserve to see a performance they are sure to never forget.
All photos by Ron Trembath.