Last Thursday, The Mystery Lights took the stage at The Hi-Dive. As their mysterious set began to unfold, I quickly had to wonder, “Where exactly were all of the lights?” The band played in almost complete darkness for their entire set. The stage had just enough of a dim red glow to see lead singer Mike Brandon thrashing on stage, executing one intricate high kick after the other. The number of self butt-kicks were profound, and sported some serious height. When I popped back to the light board to ask if there was any chance we could throw at least a beam of yellow or white light somewhere on the stage, the tech gave me one simple answer: “The boys asked for me to make it look like the devil up there.” I took that as a no.
Listen to my favorite The Mystery Lights’ song, “Follow Me Home”:
The Mystery Lights came to be 15 years ago when L.A Solano and Mike Brandon met and formed the group at the end of their middle school era. The band broke up and got back together multiple times as members left for college and other life adventures. It wasn’t until Solano and Brandon moved to New York together seven years ago that the band started to record their music and signed with a record label. It was also in New York that The Mystery Lights locked in their current lineup, with bassist Alex Amini and drummer Zach Butler.
The four-piece released their first album this past June with Wick Records (a subsidiary of Daptone). The Mystery Lights actually toured on the self-titled album a couple of times before laying down the tracks with their label and have continued to tour since its release. The boys will be playing throughout the U.S until early December, when they will then head to Europe. Their U.S tour will include two special shows of note at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, where Solano and Brandon frequently played during the band's early years.
The Mystery Lights perform with a whole lotta heart. Lead singer Mike Brandon was truly impressive. I have never seen someone play guitar and sing while jumping three feet in the air over and over and over again. Who knew such an incredible range of motion could be contained in the smallest of spaces? After seeing one of their live shows, it’s clear how the album came to be. And although the 11-track self-titled work truly captures the band's authentic sound, this is one act that is truly meant to be heard live.
Catch The Mystery Lights on one of their next tour stops here.
All photos per the author for BolderBeat. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.