Matthew Mercury Are Going Through Changes | Live Culture

Matthew Mercury Are Going Through Changes


Matthew Mercury - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Matthew Mercury
Live music is back! The shows are coming thick and fast and tickets are flying off of the proverbial shelves.

I don't know about you, but I've booked so many shows on my calendar I'm starting to have conflicts. Higher Ground alone is dropping bomb after bomb every week. Spoon? Holy crap. St. Vincent? Parquet Courts? Are you kidding me? Courtney f-ing Barnett is coming?

Once you throw in Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green series at Shelburne Museum, clubs such as Nectar's and the Monkey House getting back on track, plus the festivals that are starting to pop up (more on that soon), there's just no excuse to still be sitting inside watching YouTube concerts. (Unless that's your jam! Don't let me tell you how to have a good time.)

As we retrain our brains to have, you know, actual plans, watch this space for all your live music updates. We'll steer you true, starting with this weekend and a very special Matthew Mercury show.

If you've read this week's issue of Seven Days, you know how  excited I am to catch Ryley Walker's acoustic set at 405 Backside this Friday, July 2. He's an uncommonly talented guitarist and songwriter, and the fact that the dude lives in Vermont now is just a treat for our music scene. Get there early and make sure to catch his entire set.
He'll be followed by the heart-on-sleeve rock and roll of Matthew Mercury. The band is good enough to be a must-see in normal circumstances, but this show marks a turning point in its history.

Founder and frontperson Ezra Oklan will step back from the microphone to relinquish vocalist duties, possibly for good. After a long year away from live music, including a nasty bout of COVID-19 that is still giving him trouble, Oklan has made the tough call.

"This band was founded on the premise that we could do anything, try anything," Oklan told me recently at his studio. "Well, we're going to test that theory!"

Though exactly how the band proceeds in the future is still undecided — "I might strap a guitar on, who knows?" Oklan teased — there's no doubt that they're pushing on. For Friday's show, drummer Steve Hadeka will step out to front the band while Oklan jumps back behind the drum kit, as he does with Dwight & Nicole.

"I'm not sure how Steve will front the band, but I know he'll absolutely crush it," Oklan enthused. "I don't know if he gives as much of a fuck about Bruce Springsteen as I do, but he'll bring his own kind of energy and influences into it."

It will be fascinating to see how the band pulls off the lineup shift and what changes it makes to their sound. Above all else though, it'll just be good to see them back on stage and making a joyful noise.

Gates open at 7 p.m. See you out there!

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