What does it mean to grow as an artist, especially as a musician? As a band? Do you stay true to your artistic vision, or do you cater to the supporters and fans you’ve established? Are those things mutually exclusive? For any band or artist, these are THE existential questions, the crux of their careers. Some are able to succeed, but most succumb to the internal struggles the search for these answers inevitably cause.
Enter MISSIO: the Austin, TX brainchild of Matthew Brue and David Butler. From the start, the duo has taken pride in coloring outside the established commercial lines while raising a gleeful middle-finger salute as they dance to the rhythm of their own drum pad. This mentality couldn’t have been more apparent on their 2017 debut album, LONER, with tracks like “Middle Fingers,” “I Do What I Want,” and “I Don’t Give A ….” Deep hip-hop and club rhythms, catchy, near-pop melodies and choruses, all in a punk-influenced “Fuck You” wrapper. MISSIO wanted to be dangerous, and for those willing to explore their music beyond the surface, revealed surprising depth and introspection.
Fast forward to 2019 and the release of their sophomore album The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man. Could the MISSIO that emerged from those experiences continue it’s artistic growth and retain the army of loyal fans dubbing themselves the “MISSIO Mafia?” Could they continue that pattern of success? By title alone, The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man wears its tone of introspection on its metaphorical sleeve. Under the surface of dance-worthy power tracks like “Temple Priest,” “Rad Drugz,” and “Misfit Lunatic,” a softer side of MISSIO emerges in others like “I See You” and “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To?”
I see you when you think That I don’t notice all those scars I see you Yes, I see you I’m alone with you You’re alone with me What a mess you’ve made of everything I’m alone with you You’re alone with me And I’m hoping that you will see yourself Like I see you
– “I See You” from The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man (2019)
I was lucky enough to cover MISSIO’s sold-out 2018 show at U Street Music Hall for LIVING LIFE FEARLESS and was blown away by the performance. A little over a year later, their performance at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. was a test. Could they drive home the same performance, the same energy, in a large venue to a different crowd? “Temple Priest”, “Rad Drugz”, and “Shimmy” (performed with supporting act Blackillac) lit up 9:30 Club and drove the crowd wild. Staple crowd pleasers like “K.D.V.” and “Middle Fingers” were expected features of the set, but their true measure of growth came in the final song of the set: “I See You.” The emotional side of MISSIO translated perfectly live: a song to the fans—to anyone listening of vulnerability, inclusion, love. Undoubtedly, MISSIO will continue evolving, but the undeniable connection with their fans shows that whatever direction they take, the “MISSIO Mafia” will be along for the ride.