The Mint, nestled inbetween Culver City and West Hollywood, is the epitome of the smoky blues club, using fog machines to create the smoke in the atmosphere because, after all, you can’t smoke indoors basically anywhere anymore. But that presents no authenticity problem, because stepping into the dimly lit space is like taking a step back in time.
Which seems only appropriate, since last Friday night, the nostalgic sounds of local group Mojo Stone graced the stage with their music that seems to exist in another era. The group consists of students from Loyola Marymount University, who've turned their college project into a full-fledged band. The group even went on a tour of the South this past summer and are doing shows locally in LA while school is back in session.
They streamed in, one at a time, to take the stage and once the music started, the buzz around the room all turned their undivided attention to the whirlwind happening onstage. One of the things you notice right away about Mojo Stone is that they are a combination of big personalities. Nobody is content with blending in. Guitarist/vocalist David Donaldson is dapper in his pirate style blousy shirt, bassist Neil Wogensen is the bandanna-donning renegade, guitarist Henry McGill is spiffed out in a suit, and enigmatic drummer Pedro Honess makes the beats in the background. (It also seems that the Pedro fanclub showed up to the show, with choruses of “Pedro we love you” erupting from the house after nearly every song.)
It’s a band of distinguishable characters, and that is no exception when it comes to their main vocalist, Natalie Meadors. She seems to be the glue that holds the manic energy together, even though she is jumping on speakers and dancing around too. Her sultry vocals weave in and out of the pounding guitar lines, with an onstage confidence that is incredibly enrapturing. You can’t help but watch as the frantic chaos on the verge of total collapse manages to hold on, and you feel the catharsis of just letting go and getting swept away.
They’ve really tightened up their sound since the early days of playing open-mic nights at their school, whom now manage to capture the sweetness of an old folk record with the intensity of a hard rock group thrashing around onstage. A few songs in, the crowd was fully warmed up and there was dancing going on all around on the floor, especially to the inescapably upbeat “Keep My Man.” Mojo Stone invites you into their overwhelmingly sensory environment, where to dance and move will cure any temporal blues.
“We’re gonna have no breath left after this next one, so hold on one second,” Meadors said before going into their last song and then following up with an unplanned encore of “Gritty Love Blues”, making sure that nobody in the crowd left the venue still breathing either. - Taylor Lampela