The way I see it, you can break down the world into two types of couples: There’s the kind you can’t stand even the thought of being around. You know them. We all do. Those people who don’t mind airing out their dirty laundry at the table you’re trying to have dinner at, then reconcile by making finger babies for the rest of the night. Ugh. Then there are the people who you look forward to seeing in any social capacity, simply because you know they are following the one rule of relationships: to better one another.
When Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, the proverbial Mates of State, walked on to stage Friday night, you could count on couple #2 to perform a very tight and incredibly strong show. It wasn’t so much the music that was exciting (which it was), but it was the overall interaction the Mates had with each other and the packed venue that kept us all intrigued. Their setlist, running through their repertoire, took the roof down midway when they crushed “You Are Free” for the filled room. Throughout, they talked with the masses, taking song requests, wishing happy birthdays, and praising the DC crowd for all of the love being thrown their way.
What you can look forward to, especially at Rock & Roll Hotel (a venue not built to handle a sold-out show) is the inevitable run in with couple #1. There is no point in doing the “guy holds the girl from behind while boxing out everyone in their area” bit at a show anymore. Seriously. We get it. You want to prove something to the rest of us: that you are inseparable (fine line with insufferable). Want to not look like a dick head while doing so? Direct your focus to the stage, take a cue from the band in front of you, and just enjoy the show.
The point of dissecting these two couples is this: when you’re in love — and I mean truly “can’t navigate this vast sea of emotion without the one I call my mate” in love, people can tell. When you encounter that type of connection, it doesn’t matter who you are, it can be rather intoxicating. So to have Kori and Jason share that on stage, or on an album, it pushes them beyond the classic entertainer. With every song they sing, you can feel it coming from deep down, without sparing a single decibel.
It didn’t matter that I got swept into an ocean of flannel shirts and hair gel, trying my damnedest to break free only to be thrown to the very back of the venue; Mates of State kept me afloat with an incredible performance anchored by the connection they both share. To that degree, it put me in a great state.