Stuff That Works - A review of MuteMath in concert.
Here are some key words for a MuteMath concert:
Passion - Energy - Musicianship - Showmanship - Heart
L to R - Roy (bass) Paul (keys) Darren (drums) Todd (guitar)
Uhm, the instrument labels only sorta work. Outside of Darren, the other three guys jump fluidly amongst a host of instruments - but they mostly play what they are credited with.
I was channel surfing in December of 2011 - came across MM on Palladia doing their Armistice show. They grabbed me in seconds. I watched the whole show and enjoyed it several times in the following days (thanks for playing so many times Palladia). Who were these guys? Who was that wild man on the tiny drum kit providing the big pocket for his buddies to groove in? This Paul character sings with his whole heart and soul. The band is tight and obviously loves what they do. I immediately bought the Armistice DVD/CD and MuteMath CD. Jumped on the web - Glorioski, they are fixing to tour. Signed Julie and I up for some tix with a package that included the new CD "Odd Soul".
In the weeks up to the March 1st show I kept telling Julie that we were gonna love MuteMath and they exceeded even my high expectations. WOW. Right at 8 pm the house lights dimmed and drums came through the PA. For a brief second I thought they were starting with canned music because the stage was empty. Canned - not these guys. They were marching through the audience to the stage with remote mics on a drum and some kind of synth thing. Let the show begin.
For the next two hours MM tore the place up. Being a new fan I knew some of the songs well enough to sing along whilst air-guitardrumbasskeyboarding. (Ever since I saw Jimmy Page air guitar in "It Might Get Loud" I am no longer ashamed and do it right in public.) Yes, Paul does gymnastics on his keyboard - Yes, Darren uses gaffer tape to secure his headphones on - Yes, Todd has more pedals than Guitar Center - Yes, Roy puts more bottom out than Marky Marky did in days of yore.
My wife is usually good for an hour or so at concerts. Then she might walk around, get something to drink. She was moving and groovin' from the outset to the outro. Did I say this band was TIGHT? Did I mention they navigate an ocean of sound as a unit? They know how to pace a show - they know how to sell a song - they know how to reach out and grab the audience by the neck, shake the crap out of us and then ease off only to charge in with another sonic assault. They love their craft. Paul crowd surfed on an inflatable bed with Christmas lights on it - he shared his electric gizmo and let audience members play it.
Darren came out in the middle of the crowd and did a drum solo with a kick, a snare, and a cowbell that made me wild with glee.
Near the end of the set they did a four song run that just blew the roof off. After each one, I thought to myself - well, that was the last one. No - they kept on raising the bar higher and higher. And they still had the wherewithal to come out and answer the demand for the extended, fantastic version of "Reset."
Julie and I have been attending and enjoying live musical events since 1970. Between us we have been fortunate enough to bask in the talent of a lot of amazing musicians. Both of us put an evening with MuteMath in the Top Tier of our favorite concerts. The only other time in my life that a band has so blown me away at my first live exposure to them was when I saw Genesis perform the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in high school right before Peter Gabriel left the group.
If you have never seen them, check and see if they are in your area. It will change your life.
7/14/12 UPDATE: Mutemath will be touring the US this fall. Just bought some tickets to see them in Lansing in September. Tour information here: MuteMath Fall Tour
They were Grrrrreat the second time around: