A look of pure joy, mixed with bouts of intense concentration, shone across the face of Joshua Ostrander, aka Mondo Cozmo, throughout his band’s show at The Basement. This was Mondo Cozmo’s second appearance in Columbus, having previously played CD102.5 Day Side A back in March, and it’s difficult to say who was having a better time, Ostrander or the crowd packed into the pit at The Basement.
Having just released their debut album, Plastic Soul, at the beginning of August, the band's set was filled with the new material, as well as a few great covers, kicking off with “Chemical Dream.” His enthusiasm for the new music is all the more genuine and infectious because Ostrander’s been around the block once or twice, having previously fronted now defunct bands Laguardia and Eastern Conference Champions, before shooting up to number one on the Billboard Adult Alternative Chart earlier this year with “Shine,” his first single as Mondo Cozmo.
On this headlining tour, the band has made it a point to perform a different cover song each night, usually something that has some sort of connection to the locale. In Columbus, Ostrander and the band outdid themselves, performing “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National. Although they live in NYC these days, The National will always be native Ohioans, originally forming in Cincinnati, and “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” from their quintessential album High Violet, holds a special place in the hearts of many indie rock fans here. Not to mention that trying to cover Matt Berninger’s voice and emotion is no easy task, yet Mondo Cozmo didn’t just pull it off, they absolutely nailed it.
All of the songs on Plastic Soul are filled with Ostrander’s emotions, which he conveys in such a real way during his performance. It’s as if Mondo Cozmo is the personification of Ostrander’s pure emotion - the pleading of “Hold On To Me,” the longing of the title track “Plastic Soul,” the quiet desperation of “Shine,” and everything in between. A real person might burst or go crazy trying to contain it all, but through these songs and through this persona, the conflicting and overlapping emotion finds its outlet in a way that connects to every person listening. It’s so fitting that the band’s second cover of the evening, and one they perform regularly, was The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” which even 20 years after its release still speaks to all of the confused souls of the world (which is all of us) in its exclamation, “But I'm a million different people from one day to the next.”
After the band closed out their set with the soaring “Automatic,” the house lights came up, and the show was supposed to be over, but the fans in The Basement were not ready to let go of Mondo Cozmo just yet. After long minutes of applause, and presumably much discussion and quick planning backstage, the band came back out onstage, signaling for the lights to be turned back down. Then Mondo Cozmo, with Ostrander clutching his microphone stand in one hand, and his cell phone in the other for the lyrics, launched into a rocking version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” ensuring one last sing-a-long before the show truly had to end.
Flagship opened the show with a solid set of electronic influenced rock, that was marred slightly with several technical issues. Those issues did lead to some fun crowd interaction with front man Drake Margolnick, as he twice hopped down off stage and walked back to the soundboard, stopping to sing in the middle of the pit on his way back to the stage. The sound issues might have brought Margolnick’s energy level down a little bit, but drummer Michael Finster was, without doubt, the highlight of the band’s set. With his drumkit placed right up at the front of the stage, his flurry of movement and non-stop energy were able to drive the band’s performance in a way it might not have if he were relegated to the back of the stage like most drummers.
Check out the photo galleries below for both bands.
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