Mutemath have made a huge impression in Australia during their first visit in this form, and they’re not coy about expressing their joy. It’s a grand thing, considering the acts they’ve been offered up to as (sacrifice?) support in the past, and no wonder Warner had problems deciding what to do with them – so much so their contract was nearly shelved early on. The New Orleans four-piece are truly original and each musician is highly accomplished in his own right, making for an incredibly exciting and technically explosive combo live.
An eerie clothesline crucifix strung with fairy lights traipsed through and above the crowd, while synths built sand with a grain of salt to accompany the procession. Odd Soul burst out as the group appeared on stage, with guitarist Todd Gummerman playing up the trills and drummer Darren King mixing up his fills every time. Lead vocalist Paul Meany immediately made it clear there are no fancy production tricks going on with his voice on record – he can hit every one of those high notes and does so while attacking the keyboards in perfect rhythm.
Pryotania was next and the sound desk seemed to be having a couple problems mixing Meany’s vocals, which is forgivable considering the amount and variation of sounds which were emanating from the dais. King was also visually lost momentarily, in a billow of smoke, which was a shame as he’s amazing to watch – doing his nana and shaking his head like a dog. Things balanced again by the time single Blood Pressure began; Meany’s keys were a particular wonder. Moving about with elation, his left hand beat at the keyboard like he’s enthusiastically patting an Alsatian and his right kept the funky chords going. Dedicating an instrumental jam of Odd Soul to the late MCA, Meany told the crowd that the Beasties have always been a great influence on what Mutemath do.
There is a real element of jazz about the ensemble; several tracks began with drums and/or organ, then introduced each instrument into the fold. Their grooves are actually like a very tight funk band, each dude really getting the feel of the others as songs progressed and improvisations increased. The keys became off-beat, and Meany recorded the crowd’s singing and yelling, mixing it percussively into the track.
Precluding Chaos by stating that they’ve “been together for eight years,” and were “trying to cram everything in,” the next half an hour included confetti bazookas gunning around Meany while he sang from on top of the sound desk, King handing his drums out to the audience and then thrashing at them like a Michel Gondry clip, a rousing rendition of the band’s Like A Version track (Alicia Keys’ Fallin’) and Meany rowing his way around the crowd in a blow-up boat. Mutemath managed to squish everything in and more, and it’s impossible to do these legends justice in this many words.
BY ZOË RADAS
LOVED: Meany. Like, I am in love.
HATED: When it ended.