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Destination: Tampa Bay

As the sun set over the Bay area, fans of the band Mae gathered around the sidewalks of downtown St. Petersburg to sing along with their favorite songs at an intimate acoustic performance. Three members of Mae, lead singer Dave Elkins, drummer Jacob Marshall and guitarist Zach Gehring, played six songs before a crowd of approximately 70 people before signing autographs inside Daddy Kool Records.

Playing in front of a small crowd was a welcomed change for the band members, who have seen their popularity rise over the course of the last year with the release of The Everglow. But the band still relishes the opportunity to play before large crowds.

“We accomplish different things with different settings,” Marshall said. “Tonight was a perfect moment, everyone standing around singing along outside by the street. At the same time, what you can do in a more controlled environment is pretty amazing, too. But (the acoustic performance) was definitely a different kind of experience.”

For many of the songs performed on the sidewalk, Mae had a welcoming chorus of fans singing along in harmony with Elkins. According to Marshall, a fan singing along is a testament to their hard work.

“It’s an honor,” Marshall said. “Our goal as a band has always been to mean something to people and have what we create be beyond ourselves. It’s a magic that keeps us coming back to it. For us, the greatest part is being part of somebody’s life and to mean so much to them that they invest time into listening.”

Mae’s origins are rooted in Virginia Beach, where they began as a recording project. Their first effort, Destination: Beautiful, sold more than 70,000 copies and put the band on the map.

“We weren’t really a band,” Marshall said. “When that first record came out, we moved out of our apartment, sold all of our excess stuff, piled into a van and never looked back. After two years of doing nothing but playing shows, we knew each other musically and knew what we wanted to do as Mae.”

According to Marshall, Mae is an acronym that stands for Multisensory Aesthetic Experience. In an attempt to appeal to all the senses, the band asked an artist to illustrate the record’s booklet, which tells the story of The Everglow.

“The point of the drawings was to reinforce the conceptual nature of the record,” Marshall said. “About three-fourths of the way through the writing process, we realized the songs could flow together chronologically to tell the story of what we’ve experienced over the course of the last couple of years. That was the story of The Everglow. In order to complete that experience for people and set it apart as a story and reinforce the meaning, we had an artist come up with a children’s book design for the record.”

Although it was originally a timeline of the band’s progression, Marshall claimed the meaning of The Everglow is open to interpretation. For Mae, the progression has been rapid.

“It’s cool because even as rapidly as it’s growing, it seems to still be organic feeling,” Marshall said. “We are very much a word of mouth band. For this stage in our career, it’s exactly how we wanted to grow.”