I arrived early at the Rancho Relaxo for Meanwood's 1:00am set on the Saturday of NXNE without any idea what to expect.
There was some milling about between sets and as the band prepared to take the stage, only a few people made their way to floor space near the stage. The band started into their set, with friends of the band cheering loudly. Band members weren't dressed to impress — they took the stage looking more like they were there for a rehersal. It was a friendly atmosphere, and the performance started out in the same vein... friendly.
As the band warmed up, more and more people filtered into the venue and many, like me, found it difficult not to move to Meanwood's country-rock music (even if not " dancing," exactly). Sincere cheers could be heard in response to sections of the amazing vocals from Viktoria Belle and, slowly, the performance started to change; Belle and the rest of the band started to feed off the energy of the crowd that now filled the floor, and in turn the crowd fed off the increased strength in the band's performance. The atmosphere changed from an NXNE showcase to a music party, happening both on and off stage. There's no doubt alcohol played a part in some of this, but mutual enjoyment of each other seemed to be the true driving force.
By the time the band belted out an expressive and brilliantly performed "Sister Sin", the level of fan/band interaction peaked. It felt like something that can't quite be explained was being exchanged between the band members and the crowd, a sensation that happens at some of the best concert experiences. Whether or not this was a one-time thing or an atmosphere the band is able to recreate frequently is yet to be seen, but I'm definitely willing to spend a few more nights out with Meanwood to find out.