By the time Jared Mees and his “Grown Children” reached Salt Lake City, they had been touring for nearly a month. Having just come off a couple of shows in Colorado the day before, and the Urban Lounge being more or less empty, I prepped myself for a slow, emotionless performance. Not so. This Oregon-based quintet seemed to exude energy throughout their entire performance. At first listen, this band has a strong pop aesthetic. Their cuddly anthems appear to acknowledge only the positive, but listen closely to their lyrics and you’ll find much darker undertones than what they let on.
Seeing them play a live set gave me more respect for them musically. If a band sounds better live than they do on their recordings, that’s when you know they’re truly talented. It’s clear they place less value in audio engineering and more into their music. Each member added something to the sound that the others didn’t. They all had a purpose to be on stage. Joe Bowden’s drumming kept their fast-paced sound moving without making it sound rushed. Quilty Kim isn’t your average bass-player. His bass lines traveled further away from mundane than other players of this genre, and he could sing. Javier Madrigal took on an important role backing up the melodies on the trumpet and lead guitar. Megan Spear rounded out the band’s sound with a beautiful female vocal presence and tasteful keyboard fillers. And finally, Jared Mees played the lead man perfectly, controlling the feel of the stage and keeping up the energy from start to finish.
Most bands that try to have fun on stage end up sacrificing sound quality for the appearance that they’re having fun. Jared Mees and the Grown Children proved they’re not most bands while maintaining tempo and singing in tune; letting go while staying in control of their music. “Limber Hearts” was one of their better-performed songs of the night. There are numerous tempo changes and pauses throughout the song, which can sometimes be confusing for a five-piece band to keep together. Not for them, it seemed. They picked the tempo back up flawlessly and back into the chorus they went. In their song, “Shake”, Mees and Spear really exploited how well their voices mesh together, reverting between unison and harmony. The male/female combination reminds one of Mates of State or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, yet they are still able to sound like their own.
Their new album, Only Good Thoughts Can Stay, is being released on May 10, 2011 off Jared Mees’ own label, Tender Loving Empire.