By Jacob Heyerly
May 27, 2018
Matthew Sweet is a singer and songwriter who impacted the vibrant music scene in Athens, Georgia, during the late 80’s and early 90’s when bands like R.E.M. were quickly on the rise. Throughout his long music career, Sweet has been involved in songwriting, performing, producing, and mixing not only his own work but others’ as well. Last Friday night, Sweet gave his first performance in Charlotte in a long time.
Sweet was accompanied by two friends (and previous members of Velvet Crush) including Paul Chastain on the bass with an inviting smile, and Ric Menck on the drums wearing a Thrasher hat that he may have had since the 80’s. The band started out with the youthful and harmony-filled “Time Capsule,” a song that transported the audience back to a time where things may have felt easier. The music felt tangible as if any member of the audience could dissect the composition of each song, and although formulaic, it was not muddy or washed out. The sound was crisp, and each instrument complimented each other, while the ride cymbal paced the sliding bass lines, the snare drum filled the open spots from the lead guitar, and the chord progressions played to the strengths of Sweet’s charming high-pitched voice.
Matthew Sweet has perfected the power-pop sound over the years, allowing flawless transitions from new songs like “Pretty Please” from last year’s Tomorrow Forever, to old ones like “Winona” off of his groundbreaking album Girlfriend. Catchy choruses and guitar solo led jams would dominate the setlist throughout the night. After each song the audience would roar, and the stage would be filled with smiles and laughter from the bandmates. The group was unquestionably focused on sounding air-tight and having fun. The final triplet of songs before the encore were irresistible fan favorites. As a swirling layer of guitars crept through the speakers followed by an uptempo drum beat, the crowd instantly recognized the tune and broke into an infectious sing along of Sweet’s most popular song, “Girlfriend.” After the song came to a close, the band capitalized off the positive response from the crowd and jumped right into the cheerful tune of “I’ve Been Waiting” to capture the hearts of the room. After a brief thank you to the audience, Sweet played his most exuberant and lively song of the night, “Sick of Myself.” This song in particular showcased the veteran musicianship of the band with a triumphant instrumental climax.
Sometimes a concert comes around that is a hidden gem. An act that goes unnoticed by many people’s calendars, but that offers a rarity that others refuse to miss. Matthew Sweet’s performance at The Visulite Theatre on Friday Night was a no-brainer for dedicated fans who lived through the nights where “Girlfriend” was playing at the college bar. However, those individuals that were curious about Sweet’s talents or those who were dragged there by friends, found a new appreciation for someone who sticks to his guns, creates good music, and knows how to have some fun.
Check out the remaining 2018 tour dates for Matthew Sweet.