This weekend marks the beginning of the end for one of the most interesting, eclectic, and passionate bands to emerge from Christendom in the last two decades: mewithoutYou. Blending post-punk and emo with more diverse forms of music (e.g., Middle Eastern chants), and led by Aaron Weiss’ impassioned vocals and lyrics as spiritual as they are surreal, mewithoutYou’s music is nothing less than a beautiful tempest.
But all good things come to an end. Back in 2019, the band announced that 2020 would be their final year as an “active” band. As with so many other things, however, COVID forced the band to postpone their finale. So this weekend, mewithoutYou begins their end with a pair of shows: the first is titled (appropriately) “The Beginning of the End” while the second celebrates the 15th anniversary of 2006’s Brother, Sister, which the band will play in its entirety.
Both shows will be live-streamed and remain on-demand for 72 hours after the performances. But if you miss these shows, then no fear: the band is opting for a nice, long denouement, with more shows planned throughout 2021 (like Furnace Fest in September) and even into 2022. But after 2022, mewithoutYou will cease to exist. Plenty of bands have announced their end only to get back together after a few years, but there’s a definite sense of finality surrounding mewithoutYou’s decision.
Christianity Today’s Joel Heng Hartse interviewed the band about their farewell tour, long career, and early days in the Christian music industry. As might be expected, the band’s views are thoughtful and gracious:
When I asked Weiss whether he felt any tensions at having been associated with evangelicalism given his more eclectic faith, I half expected some of the cynicism of other bands I’ve heard talk about that scene, which some describe as narrow-minded and insular, but this was not the case for him.
“I have fond memories, and my heart is filled with a sense of love for those who I met during that time,” Weiss said of playing churches and Christian festivals. “You know, there’s ways that these things get interpreted and spun that can be divisive, and then you could say” — (here he puts on a self-consciously superior, sarcastic voice) — “‘Well, I’m not an evangelical, those people are evangelicals, and I see I through all that because that’s obviously bogus.’ And I don’t see it that way. At least not in my deepest heart of hearts.”
That spirit of generosity is what ultimately characterizes mewithoutYou for me. Yes, their music is exhilarating, especially when Weiss lets loose a throat-rending scream or the band’s multi-guitar attack unleashes a wall of sound. And as I’ve written before, the band’s onstage theatrics — like performing in black suits in the sweltering July heat — were often something else.
But beneath all of that stuff, there lay a deep well of spirituality in the best and truest sense of the word. And that manifested itself in a willingness to explore difficult and thorny theological issues; to wrestle with doubt, lust, and fear; and to ponder what it means to be human beings seeking after the Divine. Put simply, there’s never been another band quite like mewithoutYou, and I doubt there ever will be again.