Photo by MATT SHAVER
Mineral was one of those bands that got me through high school. Cliché as it may be, those angst-filled, sometimes brittle, but always powerful vocals, and the noisy, feedback-laden guitar riffs spoke volumes to me – speak volumes to me. Formed in Houston in ’94, Mineral became one of the most important bands in emo, and their first full-length album, The Power of Failing (1997), has become a staple of the genre. Their songwriting was unapologetically honest, and the highly emotional lyrics were carried by epic vocal harmonies through song structures that usually took the listener from somewhere soft and warm up to wailing peaks that billow out to a feathery landing.
Mineral broke up in ’98 after the release of EndSerenading (1998), a less noisy iteration of their style that focuses more on gentle buildups, cleaner tones, and more cooperative guitar work between Chris Simpson and Scott McCarver. They got back together for a reunion tour in 2015, and released two singles toward the end of last year in celebration of their 25th anniversary. Their new material has the maturity you’d expect from a 25-year-old emo band, but without the you’re-trying-too-hard+it’s-missing-something vibe that plagues far too many legendary acts reborn. Mineral are also releasing a commemorative book containing an in-depth history of the band, which includes a 10-inch EP and previously unreleased photos.
“Five, Eight and Ten” is the first song on their first album, and it was the first song of their set last night at the Theater of Living Arts. Mineral rocked out in full Fender — McCarver shredded a Mustang, Simpson a Telecaster Thinline, and Jeremy Gomez a Jazz Bass. Their playing was pretty much without flaw. Every song was studio-worthy, with the exception of an accumulation of frequencies in the low-mid range, which was caused by Simpson’s low-end breeching Gomez’s bass territory. Because I was stationed right in the splash zone of their mud collision, I had a difficult time hearing McCarver, who was farther away from me on stage right, until he turned up his volume once the band started playing tunes from EndSerenading. I’m making this out to be a bigger deal than it was. They played phenomenally, and their sound for most of the show was very good.
Simpson hinted that there may be a new album to come, after an audience member shouted “New LP,” to which Simpson replied “Nudge nudge,” with a smirk. Wink wink. Between songs, McCarver made some remark that I couldn’t quite make out, and Simpson declared that we had all just witnessed a miracle. He said that in 25 years of touring, he’d never heard Scott utter a word to the audience. Whether that’s true or not, it made us feel special. Speaking of feelings, the crowd was definitely feeling lots of things – mostly nostalgia, I presume, for there were many older faces: no doubt fans who were around for Mineral before the breakup. One fan cried out “I’m weeping.” Understandably so, with the closing song of the encore being perhaps Mineral’s saddest song, “Parking Lot,” which begins:
I wouldn’t mind if you took me in my sleep tonight
I wouldn’t even put up a fight
I wouldn’t care if you took it all away today
I’m sure I wouldn’t even miss the pain
“Epic” is an overused word, but I promise that it’s appropriate for Mineral’s performance. I’m not one to set the bar high for reunion shows, but they absolutely shattered all expectations by far. One might think it difficult being an emo band after 25 years have gone by and the band members are all happy with families now, but their authenticity was monumental. We’ll miss you, Mineral. ‘Til next time. I know the 50th anniversary is going to be tight! — KYLE WEINSTEIN