LIVE REVIEW + INTERVIEW: Michigander – Washington, D.C. 04/19/2023

From America’s heartland, singer-songwriter Michigander’s new EP It Will Never Be The Same could not more accurately describe the career he’s led and the tour that’s followed. From performing to only “12 people” —  as he described on stage at DC9 in Washington, D.C. on April 19th — to a sold-out room of screaming fans, it’s clear that his era of uncertainty and futility is long gone. Since his first EP Midland, released 2018, Jason Singer has performed at festivals like Lollapalooza, released several more singles and EPs, and toured around the country with groups like Manchester Orchestra. However, his 2023 tour It Will Never Be The Same is symbolic of not only the themes of change that the EP covers, but representative of the new steps Singer is taking in his work as a musician.

Prior to the show, Singer spoke with B-Sides and confessed how this tour has been one of the first ones “where people are showing up and selling out shows.” His concert at DC9 was one of the first shows to sell out when tickets were released, and as he travels around the nation in an enormous black van, he reflects on how the whole event feels “pretty surreal. There’s a lot of cool shows that I’ve never had happen before, so it feels really cool.”

Making his way onto the stage to cheering fans and widespread applause, Singer and his band opened with “Stay Out Of It,” the second song on the new EP. With beautiful purple-pink lights, Singer captivated his audience with his melodic voice and charismatic energy. It Will Never Be The Same was conceived long before its actual release, and Singer described the long journey it took to perform it live. “I started making it in 2020, recorded it all, and then redid it. And then I broke my leg, so then we put it off. It’s been done for a very long time.”

On stage, Singer performs some of his previous works — joking about the politics of D.C. between them — before bursting into “In My Head,” a track he collaborated with Manchester Orchestra on. He follows with “Saturday,” both these songs getting the crowd on their feet and belting out the words alongside him. With the bright red lights, his band’s dynamic feel, and Singer’s very own infectious energy, it is hard not to be swept up in the excitement and buzz. 

In “Cannonball,” the last song on the EP and Singer’s personal favorite, the musician goes silent throughout the chorus to hear the audience’s booming cry of the lyrics he wrote, amplifying the love that encompassed the room and the feel-good nature of his music. It Will Never Be The Same focuses on the need to accept change, and Singer adds that “we’re kind of forced to change. And so I think there are ways to change and be a better person while still honoring who you are as a group and where you came from, so that’s kind of what [the EP] is about.”

Taking a pause from all the excitement, Michigander takes out an acoustic guitar, asking the crowd to remain quiet as he sings one of his first songs “Nineties.” Stepping away from the mic so he can scream the lyrics in, like David Bowie roaring on “Heroes,” Singer elevates the already nostalgic feel of the piece and drives home his resounding message of wishing for something safe. With the major accomplishments Singer experienced since “Nineties,” a seemingly never-ending itinerary of production after production, the constant need to create and continue pursuing the next great piece is not hidden from his mind. “ I wish I could just like, shut down for like, another year or something. And then they come back and do it. But it’s hard to stop once you kind of have like momentum. It’s like, once you have that momentum going, unfortunately, the industry lends well to people who just keep going, right?”

The beat picks back up towards the end of his set, Singer finishing off on “Superglue,” with everyone in the room dancing, laughing, and cementing this night in their minds forever. For something that Singer has “wanted for [his] whole life,” the absurdity of performing sold-out shows is not lost on him. But the fact of the matter is he has reached a new reality, one where his talents are more than appreciated, but celebrated to the highest degree.

Teasing a debut album release next year, Singer has declared that his life as a musician will never end. But what he finds most satisfying in this profession is the moment when he’s “in a room with a bunch of strangers and we’re all singing this stupid little song that I made forever ago.” So ultimately yes, it will never be the same as it once was, but instead of the phrase ringing a bitter-sweet tune, it chimes the rock notes of the beginning of brilliance.