Mutemath pleases this loyal fan with group dynamics
Each Mutemath show beings with a ritual: the drummer, Darren King, duct-tapes his headphones to his head, wrapping the tape over his hair and under his chin like a collar he couldn’t get off his head. It’s a little bit strange and off-putting — there’s nothing cool-looking about it. But you know that whatever comes next is going to be wild.
And it was. Included in Friday night’s show: climbing instruments to play other instruments, crowd surfing on a glowing mattress, lead singer Paul Meany singing in the crowd (“You guys really like to hug it out”), the song “Blood Pressure” performed using Calvin’s very own organ, and countless jam sessions filled with tasty grooves.
The show began with “Typical,” a classic from their first album that they often start their shows with. Allow me to make a confession: I think old Mutemath sounds boring compared to their new material in “Odd Soul.” Obviously, the energy and technical mastery of a Mutemath show makes up for a lot of that boringness — but the music on “Odd Soul” is just … better. In every way.
But after “Typical,” they jumped into all the music I love the most: “Pyritania,” “Tell Your Heart Heads Up,” “Allies” — they almost played “Odd Soul” in its entirety. The only glaring exclusion I can think of is “Walking Paranoia,” which was easily one of the albums best tracks.
Hopefully no one in the crowd’s favorite album was “Armistice,” because they only played one song from it. Even though it was critically well-received, fans tend to shun it. A shame, really. It wasn’t a forgettable album.
On stage, they don’t organize themselves like a typical band; instead of being placed in the background, King is placed on the side, faced so that he can keep an eye on everyone. They didn’t perform as individuals; they performed as a group. Except for their new guitarist — he just stands off to the side and does his thing. I sort of feel bad for him, but maybe he’ll start joining in on more of the fun later on.
Sometimes during the show, I would stop listening and just let my heart flutter with the thought of how talented all of the guys up on stage were. In the alternative rock genre, bands don’t often solo, but Mutemath does. Organ solos, bass solos, drum solos, guitar solos — all four members of the band know what they’re doing. It’s a nice change of pace from the bands that get up on stage and perform their songs by rote.
They also like to meld songs together — most often songs you wouldn’t expect, too. After Meany said, “Okay, we’ve got one last song for you, it’s called ‘Break The Same,’” they proceeded to play that song, and then morphed it into “Quarantine,” a seven minute romper that comes as close to hard rock as Mutemath will ever get.
Of the night’s surprises, Meany playing Calvin’s organ for “Blood Pressure” was one of the best. Obviously, as a lover of Calvin, I was overjoyed. But as a statement about the band, the inclusion signified something more. They fill in the space they’re provided with, adapting to provide the best show that space can offer.
It’s hard to do better than a Mutemath show, and after a few weeks of sitting around and writing music, I’m sure they were ready to release all that pent-up energy. When they got on the stage, they were going to have a good time.