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‘A messy little bow’

Mekel Green brought her first album to CO*LAB
and tied up a few loose ends

Mekel Green at CO*LAB Feb. 4. Showing how music enables people to make sense of their lives. (Ty Lindberg)

By Gwyneth Bignell

Before the doors to CO*LAB opened, people were gathered in the foyer, alive with anticipation: old friends, hellos and long-time-no-sees.

Once the doors opened, the energy dissipated in a hundred new directions. The diversity of acts invited an eclectic crowd; the evening started with R&B, then emo, hip-hop, and, finally, indie pop by Mekel (Green).

The line for beer was long; it was a good sign.

“The show sold out,” she said to the crowd, sounding exited and surprised. “Thank you all so much for coming.”

Cameras snapped around the stage, capturing moments in time.

Mekel is ready to start down a new path after tonight: “This show is me taking a walk down memory lane and then getting off this road.”

Though the acts worked hard to play to the whole room, some people spoke (loudly) through the opening acts and even through some of the headliner’s set.

Their voices drowned out Mattea’s silky-smooth vocals. Smothered Riz!’s cover of Blink 182’s “All The Small Things.” Even Lawrii’s audience yell-backs were muted.

‘Taking a walk down
memory lane’

At one point, a woman hollered to her friend, “What song is this?” The friend looked at her in disbelief. “No, I am serious!” Her friend and anyone within earshot were shocked that this woman did not know Justin BIeber’s “Love Yourself.”

What happened to show etiquette?

But in the guests’ defence, the venue was not conducive to attentiveness – mainly because the stage was too small, especially for Mekel. (More on that in a moment.)

Between sets, people went outside to cool off, smoke, and continue using their outside voices. When they returned, the energy had shifted. They were ready for a show, and Mekel delivered.

“This was the first show from Mickey that really felt like a performance,” audience member Maya Stephens said. “She’s not just standing next to ex any more.”

For her set, Mekel played her entire new CD, which is about dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship.

Dust gathered in the light, pretty, delicate, undisturbed by the still and (mostly) attentive bodies in the room. The white light was dreamy and angelic to match Mekel’s vocals.

With Mekel at centre stage, the quiet of the room was interrupted suddenly by the opening scene from the “HOUSEPARTY” music video. The clip ended and Mekel began gently with “TEETH,” the audience singing along.

There was a special intimacy. The crowd knew what Mekel meant by “driving down 21.” They could picture it; they’ve driven it; they can see themselves there. Perhaps the audience was learning to forgive and let go, too. (She even provided how-to pamphlets.)

 How Mekel found a new sound, a new home and an old first name

The songs are about Mekel exorcising the hard feelings from her breakup. When she sang, she closed her eyes, as if there were a part of the show happening only within her.

She sipped red wine from a chalice between songs, the same wine and the same chalice from the end of the “Would-Be Memories” music video (an Easter egg for attentive fans).

“Even though what brought me here wasn’t a good place, this is a good place now.” Mekel says. “And on that note …” she began to play “SICKWISHES.”

There were a lot of feelings in the room; it appeared that Mekel had tapped into something familiar to the crowd – forgiveness is something everyone must learn.

The audience screamed her lyrics back to her.

The lights changed for “DROOLING.” For the first time in the show, an angelic, white glow was replaced by cherry red. This must have been the rage she once spoke about “harnessing, releasing, and unleashing.”

Mekel’s stage presence was a series of emotions, from soft and breathy, to shaking, screaming and falling to her knees.

“DROOLING” made a statement: that this artist is ready for larger venues. The CO*LAB stage is too small to contain her star-power.

‘Half scotch tape and half something
that’s barely holding it together’

Not even an audio malfunction that fed throbbing bass notes over some of her vocals distracted from Mekel’s music and performance.

“I am tying everything up with a messy little bow that’s half scotch tape and half something that’s barely holding it together,” she says.

Towards the end of the show, Mekel and her drummer, Kevin Herrera, left the stage. Then she reappeared alone, with her dad’s acoustic guitar, which she used to write the album’s two acoustic tracks, “TEETH” and “How to Forgive (and Let Go).”

For the first time, the room fell silent.

When she started singing “How to Forgive,” many people closed their eyes. This performance made it clear how much music can help people make sense of their internal lives.

Her vocals sounded the same as on the record, maybe better by virtue of the raw emotion.

She left the stage, but the audience wasn’t done, and they clapped and cheered her back for an encore. Her return symbolized a brief return to her days as Mickey Green.

“Forgiveness is not linear, so we are going back to the beginning,” she said before she and Herrera drove full force into a cover of The 1975’s “Robbers” – a song she used to play as part of a duo with her ex.

“It’s nice to see Mickey sort of complete a story line after all these years,” Nick Cook, a friend of Mekel’s, said.

And so, as the doors to CO*LAB closed, so did this chapter in Mekel’s story … at least for now.

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