With songs like “Clipping”, “Cavalries”, and “Allies” on the setlist, it’s no wonder New Orleans own MuteMath chose to open Thursday night’s show at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square by flanking the audience from behind. Drummer Darren King led the way manning a snare, weaving through the audience with military rhythm, while the remaining members of the band followed suit with a caravan crashing symbols, a thumping bass drum and a traveling entourage of security. All traveling under some sort of telephone line sculpted, Christmas lit concoction, shining a pathway of pandemonium to the stage. Marti Gras apparently went into overtime. Bonus southern spirit for everyone!?
Magic air mattress rides. Confetti. Jam sessions consumed with the ideology of “everyone pitches in” percussion. Sting sounding sing-a-longs. Homemade instruments thrown into the audience. Scissor kick pool jumps off the center stage organ. Keytar dance endeavors. All things well documented during MuteMath’s new video for “Allies.”
But first, Darren King, beast of a man, needs to electrical tape studio sized headphones to his dome.
And away we go...
The opening 500 notes of the show (from stage) took place in King’s four-second animalistic drum introduction to “Odd Soul”, the first cut off the new album of the same name. Lead singer Paul Meany proceeded to scream, “TRIALS and tribulations always seem to track me down…” giving added soul to a line just about any soul can relate to. Meany, whose voice is usually silky smooth, never sounded so inspired. It was the sound of a band on a mission.
Typically when a concertgoer pontificates, “they played everything off their new album,” it’s seen as a real downer. Wah-wah. Not this time around. Early in the show intention to play every song on Odd Soul as well as other favorites was declared. It’s ballsy to come out with that kind of confidence about your new material, but the execution was brilliant and time flew like confetti.
Add this up: 27 songs and almost 2.25 hours of MuteMath madness.
It’s rare for me this day in age to leave a concert feeling like the band did EVERYTHING in their power give the fans what they want. There’s usually a “What if…” I can point to in order to not deem what I just saw as perfect. I’m always seeking quantifiable justice. I never feel that way after a MuteMath concert. Every show seems better than the last show, which was previously the best show I’d ever seen.
In the early days, nights wound down with the band drenched in sweat, reveling in a path of destruction that seemed to include most of their instruments and equipment, all the while, taking time to shake hands with audience members and thank them for “taking time out of their schedule to see us play.”
Though they’re not as destructive, circa 2012, the keen sense of how to put on a show, and keep things fresh remains true. Little antics throughout the show exponentially pile themselves up, towering a tally of rock moments beyond our vividly constructed imaginations. Especially for a $25 buy-in. It’s absolutely SILLY that more people don’t know about this band.
I’ll never get sick of seeing DK Beast fill his drumhead with water and thrash like a little boy in the rain during “Reset.” The quintessential “Break the Same” jam has been replaced by a seamless merger into epic seven minute opus “Quarantine” in which Meany crowd surfs on an air mattress strung with bright lights without missing any of the quick hitting lines or notes. It makes me wonder what “Magic Carpet Ride” would sound like with air mattress technology.
If you were sad not to see King solo on top of Meany’s keyboard (another “Break the Same” jam trademark), you were quickly restored to percussion fulfillment when he rode into the audience on a moving piece of catwalk—to complete a brief, but angry, bad ass snare solo. Retribution reloaded. It’s the same piece of moving stage Meany crooned con confetti during “Equals”, yet another majestic memory from a show full of innovative imagery.
It’s good to see new guitarist Todd Gummerman has bought into the system, periodically mimicking Meany’s scissor kicks off the organ. It’ll be interesting to see his impact on the guitar playing for the next album.
The greatest victory for me is a deeper appreciation for the Odd Soul catalog. Somehow, even though I tasted the flavor, I never picked up on exactly how much Southern Baptist church clapping organ ingredients the album has. You listen to a song like “One More” and you’re practically transported into the congregation. If Odd Soul is your bible, affirmation just became one big drum ladled jamboree. Your concert ticket is your tithe, brother.
The show’s closing song “Typical” has been typically known an opener, with flashing lights and Meany armed with a keytar on top of his keyboard Para trooping to stage level in time to sing, dance and give thanks to another rocking day. A signature signal has come full circle for a band that continues to push themselves into new territories of showmanship—backwards, forwards and all-around.
Every new end comes from some other endings beginning.
Tell Your Heart Heads Up
In No Time
All Or Nothing
Break the Same
You Are Mine