Surprises and horses as mewithoutYou, Rocky Votolato and Auctioneer wrap up tour at The Depot (photos, review)

mewithoutYou | Photo by John Vettese

mewithoutYou | Photo by John Vettese

It was the last night of tour, so surprises naturally came out of the woodwork when mewithoutYou headlined The Depot in York on Saturday – everything from unexpected collaborations to a singer rocking out in a horse’s mask. But we’ll get to that.

Opening the show was Philly art-rock four piece Auctioneer, who recently starred in an episode of the Shaking Through series and has been along for the ride since tour kicked off in June. The last time we caught them (at Nikki Volpicelli’s Tuesday Tune-Out this spring), the set was heavy on the visuals – a black and white 70s experimental film, a live mix of psychedelic footage shot in present day Philly – so the notion of Auctioneer unadorned was a little uncertain. Thankfully they more than delivered, showing how songwriter Craig Hendrix’s avant pop compositions don’t need to rely on trippy visuals to grip your attention. Their producer Todd Scheid was only a car-ride away, so he joined the band on gon bops caxixi, a bell-shaped percussion instrument of woven wicker, during “Our Future Faces” (the title track to Auctioneer’s new LP). As the set wrapped to a close, mewithoutYou’s Greg Jehenian and Brandon Beaver also rushed the stage to play tambourines and sing backing vocals.

Seattle songwriter Rocky Votolato followed, delivering a hushed set of acoustic folk in the vein of Elliott Smith and Red House Painters – forlorn, but undeniably poppy, and downright singalongable at moments, particularly the fan-requested “Om Ma” from a split 7″ Votolato released with Matt Pond in 2011.

On the second leg of a tour in support of their 2012 record Ten Stories, mewithoutYou were tight and hard-hitting. They took the stage shortly after 10, kicking off their set with the roaring scene-setter “February 1878.” Though that album owned a good portion of the show – “Grist for the Malady Mill” was a solid selection early on, “Aubergine” sounded sublime mid-set – the Upper Darby five-piece dug back to visit older songs like “Tie Me Up! Untie Me!” from 2004′s Catch for Us the Foxes, “In A Sweater Poorly Knit” from 2006′s Brother, Sister and a few from 2009′s It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Allright. Votolato joined the band to strum and scream along to a tremendous performance of “Timothy Hay.” Its coda was so energetic, the slam-dancing crowd spilled onstage; “We’ve been playing that song for four years,” singer Aaron Weiss said as the final chord rang out. “It’s never felt that good.”

In the front row of that mass of people was a guy who, apropos of nothing, wore a Tiger’s Jaw t-shirt and a horse’s head mask for most of the show. After an electric rendition of Crazy‘s “Allah Allah Allah,” Weiss gave a shoutout to “my mane man down there (get it?)” and grabbed the mask to wear himself on the set-closing “All Circles.” Immediately The Depot was alight with smartphones as the moment was captured to scores of videos; and while none have surfaced on YouTube just yet, you can rest assured we’ll add them to this post once they do. In the meantime, check out a gallery of scenes from the show below, beginning with Auctioneer.