MUTEMATH at First Avenue, 2/18/2012
First Ave., Minneapolis
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Big production and big sound was the goal for the latest MUTEMATH tour, and while most artists use their live show to breathe new life to their music, MUTEMATH uses their live show to take their music to another level. The band's latest album, Odd Soul, was written with the intention of being "live-show ready," and the group performed every piece from Odd Soul in their 26-song set. They did so while fixed in front of a huge white screen out of a high school music concerts at First Avenue on Saturday.
As promised in an interview last week with drummer Darren King, the band entered the room by marching in from the back with a string of Christmas lights to introduce the title track off the album and tour name "Odd Soul." During "Blood Pressure," frontman Paul Meany's microphone went out, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks for him.
A wedding party was spotted in the crowd, leading Paul to dedicate the song "Tell Your Heart Heads Up"; I only wish we saw some crowd surfing from the bride. Plenty of high energy acrobatics came from the band, though. Meany climbed on the keyboards -- and broke it when doing so -- jumped into the crowd, and provided confetti to shower the crowd, turning First Avenue look like a magical snow-globe.
Sometimes the percussion and bass are footnotes in the music, but if a band builds the sound around them, they can create something new. With that backdrop, the on-the-spot loops and Paul's voice filled out the live experience.
Live, the song "Clipping" had a dream-like ambient quality. During "In No Time," the magical screen was used to display a mind-bending 3-D video. Later, an air mattress was brought into the crowd, allowing Paul to dive and perform on top of it. You couldn't take your eyes off this guy.
MUTEMATH made sure not to cut their encore short in lieu of curfew, diving right into "Reset" and their big hit "Collapse," and ending with "Typical."
The band committed to a monster set at the beginning of the show, and it would have seemed drawn out had it not been for the extra special touches the band put into the production. When asked about where they come up with their ideas for this tour, Darren says, "You have to turn off a certain amount of insecurity to do it. You can't tell yourself that it's dumb; nothing's dumb. That way the ideas can come through."
Critic's bias: I am usually not into pure instrumental pieces, which MUTEMATH had a lot of, but there was never a moment that I was not entertained.
The Crowd: Surprisingly young -- even for an all ages show. I spotted a 12-year-old in the audience.
Overheard in the crowd: "Holy shit! It's snowing!" about the confetti.
Random notebook dump: I noticed how into the music MUTEMATH's light tech was. I can always appreciate people who show up to a job night after night and still be passionate about what they do.
Tell Your Heart Heads Up
In No Time
All or Nothing
Break the Same