MUTEMATH’s show at Club Nokia on Saturday night was really something to see. The band’s newest album Armistice is one of my favorite albums of this past year, and their set Saturday night was comprised of many of that disc’s tunes.
Opening the show was As Tall as Lions, who I saw play with RX Bandits and Dredg at the El Rey back in late August. They were great at that show, but they were even better this time around. The band creates a cacophony of beautiful sounds onstage, with the aid of some horns and a solid rhythm section. The Long Island band played about half an hour, and was a perfect choice to play before MUTEMATH, another band that employs pounding beats and lush melodies. Dan Nigro was impressive with his amazing voice as the singer of As Tall as Lions, and the crowd was generally really receptive to the band. If they’re ever around your area and you like great mellow melodic music, check them out. I’m glad I got to see them again.
MUTEMATH, though, was even better. The backdrop for their stage setup was the circular thing that is on the cover of Armistice, and it kinda looked like the time warp portal from Stargate, which amused me. The band emerged onstage and immediately went into Nerve, the lead track on Armistice, which segued into Backfire. This was my second time seeing MUTEMATH, but the first since actually knowing about them and being familiar with their music. The setlist was a nice mix of Armistice material and some tracks from their self-titled debut record. Frontman Paul Meany has an engaging stage persona, bobbing around and doing funky little dances with his keytar. He is reminiscent a little bit of Adam Levine of Maroon 5, without being nearly as annoying as Levine or Maroon 5.
Drummer Darren King is a machine at the kit, banging away with tremendous precision to the syncopated beats and rhythms of the band’s songs. He’s really the most impressive part of MUTEMATH and their live show. When I first heard Armistice I was struck by the power and presence of his drumming, and it was even more impressive Saturday night. During the song No Response King stood up and hit these white circle things along with the beat that shot cool white neon lights around the stage. It looked pretty Daft Punk-ish, and was a sick visual to add to the song. Moments like this made me remember how MUTEMATH is on a major label, and thus have enough clout and, well, money to do cool stuff like this.
Stare at the Sun had a sweet jam session about midway through the song, in which guitarist Greg Hill swapped his guitar for some percussion instruments for a bit. What resulted was a hypnotic, soothing instrumental break that went on for a while but never got stale. It was pretty mesmerizing.
Toward the end of the set the band tore into Typical, the hit off of the self-titled album. Meany began the song standing on top of his piano, and encouraged the crowd to sing along during the chorus. It was a great performance of the song.
I didn’t stick around long enough to see the band play Spotlight, the first single from Armistice, as I had a prior engagement that required me to bail before the encore (it’s tough being so cool and double-booking myself, but it happens). The songs I did see MUTEMATH play, though, were a great variety of new and old songs set to please both fans and non-fans.
MUTEMATH’s show at Club Nokia made me like them even more than I already did. Armistice has been one of my favorite records of the past few months, and seeing the songs performed live was an added bonus. Meany, King, Hill, and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas have a great chemistry onstage, and each fill out their role in the band with precision and finesse. Just as how in the studio MUTEMATH is not content to be one-dimensional or predictable, their live show takes on a sense of creativity and innovation that sets the band apart from their peers. The off-beat percussive solos by King, the keytar wailing by Meany, and in general how the musicians feed off of one another and create wavelengths of sound that reverberate through a crowded theater is something to behold.
I hope their next album is somehow nearly as good as Armistice, and I look forward to seeing MUTEMATH in concert again.
Here are some videos I shot at the show, for your enjoyment.