Midwest indie rep Michigander shines at recordBar

Opener Abby Holliday also impressed in first Kansas City trip.
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Michigander. // photo by Tyler Schneider

Michigander, the singer-songwriter moniker of indie-darling Jason Singer, visited Kansas City’s recordBar on April 11 not even a fortnite removed from the release of his new six-song EP, and the namesake of this tour, It Will Never Be the Same.

The Mitten-State product presented a well-crafted 13-song set that alternated between the old and the new across his four EPs, delivering his signature infectiously anthemic hooks, earnest confessionalism, and brash optimism throughout. Inside the notes, one finds traces from a myriad of influences including James Taylor, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, The National, Death Cab For Cutie, The Killers, the White Stripes, and so forth. 

While Singer, 30, and bandmates Aaron Senor (drums), Jake LeMond (guitar) and Connor Robertson (bass) are all born and bred by the moniker, Singer got married and relocated from the Detroit area to Nashville last year. It was there that he came to know the tour’s opener, Abby Holliday.

Holliday, 25, is a Cincinnati native who, along with a pair of bandmates, strolled onto the recordBar stage in outfits they’d found at the Salvation Army earlier that day. Holliday sported a Jayhawk shirt and some Coca-Cola PJ bottoms, while the bassist also Rocked the Chalk and the drummer set himself in place in a red Incredibles tee.

Over the course of a dense selection of songs, Holliday brought a moody swagger of her own to the stage, invoking some Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy in the best ways, and peppered often with synths and some occasional auto-tuned crooning a la Bon Iver and Francis & The Lights.

She opened her set with some earlier work from 2021’s WHEN WE’RE APART I FALL APART, including the intentionally lower-cased titular track, “when we’re far apart i fall apart,” the groove-laced but slow building “Low Pain Tolerance,” and the invasively catchy “8 Hours.”

The following day, Holliday told the crowd in a brief pause, she would be releasing her second album, I’M OKAY NO I’M NOT, to which the room cheered. This is her first time in Kansas City.

“This is insane,” Holliday continued. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘how am I doing this? How did I end up here? Why did I choose this’? If you are creative in any sort of way, which I’m sure many of you are, maybe you’ll relate. Thanks for being here.” 

Slow churning strums bled into the opening line of “Noise,” the fifth of seven tracks from the new album. “Ooo, what if I was better when I was a kid?” Holliday asks in the opening line, questioning her own abilities as many creatives in the audience surely found themselves connecting. 

“Better By Now,” got a lot of voices singing in unison, while “Eggshells,” a confessional, tempo-swapping jam, and “Predictable Life,” a banging, synth and hook-heavy song that melts into a Lorde-like finale, were enough to ensure that fans were brought onboard. 

After an intermission, during which I confirmed each band member was from Michigan, the headliner came on with “Stay Out of It,” the second track off It Will Never Be the Same. A textbook example of shining indie pop-rock with the polished hook we’ve come to expect from Michigander, this one opened the show as it was meant to be.

Next up was “Better,” the intro from 2021 EP, Everything Will Be OK Eventually, and an up-tempo, more introspective jaunt than the former with over five-million plays on Spotify. 

The synths came out in greater number for “Reds,” from 2019 EP Where Do We Go From Here. I loved the 80s pop-rock vibes on this one, the recurring harmonics, and especially the moodier, full-bodied hook to send it home.

 “OK,” an affirming, up-beat song about loneliness from Everything Will Be OK Eventually, led into “In My Head,” a joint track off the latest EP with Manchester Orchestra that is so good, it’s hard to believe I haven’t loved it for a while now. This brought on a boom of applause. 

“Saturday” from the 2021 EP, a slower, yet still radio-friendly piece, came next and led into “The Other Way,” from It Will Never Be the Same. The latter gives off unapologetic Pinkerton vibes at points, with a thundering buildup to a fantastic hook that ends in a Rivers-like wail. Nice distorted thumpin’ strings and a windy solo only added energy to this mix. 

“I hear something BREWING!” Singer said after that, as the group launched into “Cannonball,” also off the new EP, which features plucky bass and bouncy guitar notes that lead into, yes, another incredibly catchy hook that rides off of a bouncy tempo in the stylings of Portugal. The Man. 

“Can we please make a crazy amount of noise for the lovely lady who’s lit up back there in the back of the room, Miss Abby Holliday!?” Singer asked once that number ended. 

“Abby, Abby, Abby, Abby!” the crowd chanted, as Michigander started up with “Nineties,” a 2016 single with almost 5 million plays on Spotify and Singer’s first major release under the name. 

The fellas decided to tease us with a snippet from U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” in which Singer’s nasal-tinged singing was well suited for a bit of Bono. After one go around on the chorus, the guys played one of my personal favorites, “East Chicago, IN,” from the 2018 EP, Midland. This is song that first drew me to Michigander’s sound and what Singer described as a “happy, happy love song.”

It was all the favorites from that point forward, with “Misery,” off the 2019 EP Where Do We Go From Here, starting off with on-tempo strums and quickly diving into a floaty-chorus that carried a fair amount of sing-along from the crowd. “So tell me what you’re thinking, cause I think I feel the same as you. Ooohoohooooo!” Singer croons in a single that is on its way to amassing 12 million Spotify plays.

The final two songs pounced on that building energy, with “Let Down,” from Everything Will Be OK Eventually, proving itself to be one of Michigander’s best, even as it, comparatively, has Singer at his least optimistic as he sings, “Cause I’ve got high hopes. I’ve got high hopes. But they let me down. They usually let me down.”

The band closed on “Superglue,” an absolute banger from the new album that had actually postponed this tour for several months as Singer had broken his leg filming its music video in the forests of Southern California on Sept. 6 of last year. The final product features a “dramatic re-enactment” of the moment with a magnificent first-person, hay-kicking shot of our dude himself. 

Thankfully, Singer has since healed up, and is now ready to dish this tasty hook out on a crowd that, if they’re anything like me, won’t be able to get it out of their heads for a week or so.

“Am I wasting my emotion on you baby? Am I wasting all my time waiting on you? Should I give up on this thing that I’ve been chasing? Cause honestly, I don’t know what to dooooo—ooo. I dunno what to dooooooo…” 

Some dreamy, spacey, Joy Divison-like riffs lead into the final third of the song, a triumphant final hook that coincides with Singer being wheeled to an ambulance in the music video. “Will somebody grab my shoe?” he asks the cameraman before the video fades.

At recordBar on this night, “Superglue” took a lot longer to die down. It’s a blue-collar hit, and the anticipation for Michigander’s debut full-length album will inevitably continue to reach new heights as the tour continues.


Stay Out Of It
In My Head
The Other Way
East Chicago, IN
Let Down


Abby Holliday

Categories: Music