Promising musical group Mako performs in Philadelphia


Promising musical group Mako performs in Philadelphia

Mikaela Krim


The Underground Arts’ main room was far from smoke-filled room when we walked in. But it would soon be filled with artificial fog, lively concert-goers and the vibrant sounds of the hit single from up-and-coming musical group, Mako. “Smoke Filled Room,” featured on its debut album “Hourglass,” has already been remixed by the likes of Elephante and Severo and was performed before an enthusiastic crowd.

Mako is the child of Juilliard graduate Alex Seaver and DJ Logan Light, formed after 2011’s Electric Daisy Carnival. Since then, it has gained attention for its sweeping melodies and Seaver’s vocals. Thursday night brought Seaver and his backing band—featuring guitarist, pianist and drummer—to Philly for the first time. 

 Doors opened at 9 p.m., but it wasn’t until well into the opening act that that any semblance of a crowd began to form. That fact alone was a shame, since opener Agent Zero’s hour-long set rivaled Mako’s in energy. Agent Zero’s set featured a DJ spinning gorgeous trap beats behind the soulful peals of a remarkable saxophone soloist. The sax’s melodies seemed to glide along the surface of sounds that ranged from sparse 808 to full-on dubstep. An equally-talented pianist lent depth to the partnership, and the result was a smooth and highly enjoyable first act. At times Mr. Sax would hop off the stage and meander through the slowly accumulating crowd. He danced around delighted attendees without ever missing a beat. 

 Two vocalists—one outfitted in rhinestone-accented fishnets, stilettos and bright blue lipstick, all of which she pulled off in excellence—came on stage for a single, engaging performance. By the time Agent Zero had finished, Underground Arts had filled with maybe 50 to 100 people— a remarkably small concert. But the intimacy played well into the night’s energy. It kept concert-goers deeply engaged with the performers. 

 Seaver walked out to the opening chords of new single “Let Go of the Wheel,” and it was evident from the rousing applause he received that, though those in attendance might have taken their time in arriving, they knew why they had come. People pressed against the stage in hopes of the causal fist-bump or daps that Seaver would throw out mid-song. Many of Mako’s tracks bear similar sounds—they’ve struck upon an album-selling consonance and have coasted on that appeal—and without the upbeat addition of a DJ or the pounding remixes I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing, Thursday’s set had moments of monotony. 

 But even during down-tempo bits, Seaver’s vocals were a thing to behold. I crept closer at one point to make sure I wasn’t just bearing witness to exceptional lip-syncing. If it was, fair play to Seaver—it was well executed. His sultry crooning rang clear as a bell, and he navigated octave jumps with apparent zeal. 

 The rest of Mako’s set included hits like “I Wont Let You Walk Away,” “Our Story,”  “Way Back Home”  and “Craziest Day I Ever Had.” Though shy of the energy exuded by Agent Zero, the show was lively enough to be entertaining. After its culmination, Seaver came down to mingle with attendees.  A brief conversation revealed that Seaver played French horn in college, was visiting Philadelphia for the first time and had spent the previous night exploring the city’s “sights.” 

 I’ve attended better, larger and more exciting concerts. But with an admission price of 15 dollars, the Underground Arts’ enjoyable grunge-hipster aesthetic provided the perfect place to spend my Thursday night. And I felt like I was witnessing a genuine rising star. Chances are high that next time Mako rolls through town, it will be performing on a much bigger stage.