Mehro and King Isis Celebrate a Great Night of Storytelling and New Music at the El Rey

Mehro at the El Rey - Photos by Notes From Vivace

Photos and review by NOTES FROM VIVACE

LOS ANGELES – Mehro (pronounced “marrow”) played to a full house at the El Rey Theatre to celebrate the release of his Dark Corners and Alchemy album. It was a packed house with a a devoted fan base, many of whom also came to see popular opening performer King Isis.

The artists’ appeal was obvious by the long line to the merch table. And if audience participation was any indication, most of those on hand for Mehro were seeing him for the first time.

King Isis at the El Rey – All photos by Notes From Vivace

An informal poll was taken. First question was how many in the audience had seen a set before. A scattering of hands were raised. Second question was how many were catching a set for the first time. A wave of hands rose. Mehro joked that this continued the record of audiences being mostly brand-new to his music. Could be this is a good indication of exponential growth in his fan base.

Mehro wanted his fans to all be on friendly terms with each other before he took them on some painful and sad twists and turns. After singing the descriptive “dopamine” and the mystical “like you’re god,” he stopped the set.

Someone in the audience yelled out, “Welcome back!” He responded, “This is my hometown!”

Mehro at the El Rey – All photos by Notes From Vivace

Then he made a request of the audience, “Introduce yourself to three strangers.” He made sure this applied to himself, as well. He introduced himself to photographers in the photo pit as well as those at the front of the stage. “We’re no longer a group of strangers at the El Rey Theatre.” And then he had everyone practice some breathing exercises.

It was a night filled with storytelling about his songs. For the song “hideous” he told the story about a night in Santa Monica and a relationship he was in at the time:

“They might even be here tonight,” Mehro said. “I don’t know for sure though. I love them and always will. And I learned so much from them because I made so many mistakes. In the middle of our relationship, I go to a party in Santa Monica . . .  I go to that party, they open the door, they walk in, and they’re making their way, saying hi to people, being a delight, smiling, just being a ray of sunlight. They make their way to my side of the room and they walk right past me.”

Mehro played the El Rey – Photos by Notes From Vivace

He mentioned that he needed to be alone after that snub and went into a room and wrote this song.

The set then turned inwards and reflective with a three-song acoustic mini-set that included “who are you” and the cover “Hurt.” After singing the cover song,

“That was one of the saddest songs ever written. Shout out to Trent Reznor and Johnny Cash for making that sound . . . I want to go there. I want to get dark.” The acoustic set ended with “lightning.”

Mehro at the El Rey Theatre – Notes From Vivace

Not only did Mehro have an album release to celebrate, but this was also the night for the release of a new song called “reason to live.” He dedicated the song to his mother who was in the audience, “She’s my number one reason not to die. My number one reason to live.” It was a true family affair. He later mentioned that his father was working the merch booth.

The song “chance with you” had the El Rey Theatre light crew casting the crowd in a white glow as the lyrics “If I could go back in time. I’d shoot my shot. Just so I could have a chance with you.” were sung.

Mehro at El Rey – Photos by Notes From Vivace

The song “lady parts and mannequins” was a real rocker. “Pretty Kids” followed in that rock genre as Mehro had fun doing some funky dancing and getting the crowd to clap along with him. Meanwhile, his two bandmates went wild around the drum set. After the song, the drummer had to run from the kit to recover a lost drumstick. The set ended with Mehro telling the crowd, “I love you. I love you.“

King Isis rewarded the audience with an effortlessly beautiful performane at the El Rey – Notes From Vivace

Opening the night was King Isis, who did a solo acoustic set. It was a special night for King Isis. This was the night that their second EP shed hit the airwaves.

The EP is appealing on several levels, as the songs emote feelings so many people are experiencing today and King Isis delivered them with heart in a live setting.

The Oakland-born artist saved the introduction of the songs from the new EP for the second half of their set, playing “MAKE IT UP,” “MONKI,” “NVR RLLY.” One has to notice the use of lowercase for the EP title, but going uppercase for the song titles.

The song “MONKI” emphasizes vocals that go raw and yet glide effortlessly up and down the scales in smooth fashion. “NVR RLLY” has the most painful vocals with rage-filled lyrics: “And now I know you never loved me back. And now you wanna go and judge me, relax Your empty promises and ‘trust me’s,’ attack and now you wanna go and fuck me, youre trash I know you never really loved me back. And now you wanna go and crush, ur trash. And all you wanna do is judge me, adapt. I know you never really loved me back.”

King Isis performed tracks off new EP shed – Photos by Notes From Vivace

They also played a couple of covers. “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish got screams from the crowd with the final lyrics, “Just f*cking leave me alone.”

Some in the crowd most definitely came to catch King Isis. Overheard outside was one individual saying they were there just to see King Isis while some in the theater crowd could be seen singing the lyrics to the songs.

Currently living in Los Angeles, King Isis has cut their chops playing showcases such as Monday Monday at Hotel Cafe and School Night at Bardot.

Performing is in the blood of King Isis, as the artist’s great-great grandmother, Omega King, was one of the first Black opera singers in Chicago.

King Isis – Notes From Vivace

Mehro setlist: dopamine, like you’re god, not alone, pirate song, ketamine, hideous, cynical, who are you, Hurt (Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash cover), lightning, whore, reason to live, perfume, chance with you, lady parts and mannequins, pretty kids, exploding

King Isis setlist: macho man, i’m fine thx 4 asking, Cesspool, Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover), SPARKLY, MAKE IT UP, MONKI, NVR RLLY, Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish cover),  4leaf clover

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