I first saw MuteMath when they opened the show for the Fray at the Erwin Center early this year, and frankly was blown away by their stage show. I had hoped to catch their follow up set during this year's SXSW festival down at the Dirty Dog, though I couldn't imagine how they could possibly squeeze that show onto its tiny stage, but I missed it along with countless other bands I intended to see. I knew they'd be back, and hoped to catch them at one of the mid-sized venues before they broke big and couldn't play the smaller houses anymore. Luckily their tour routed them back through Austin one more time, and I got to catch them at one of my favorite venues, La Zona Rosa.
Club Of Sons at La Zona Rosa - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
Opening the four-band bill was a strange beast called Club of Sons. To refer to them simply as different would be like referring to Ghostland Observatory simply as different. Their MySpace says their music sounds like Bowie goes black gospel. OK. That's almost a fair description. I would say its more like what you'd get if Bootsy Collins, Frank Zappa, and David Byrne were marooned together in Houma, Louisiana and had to form a band to escape. Kind of like a modern Roxy Music with Cajun spice. You can dance to it, but you might get hurt. Formed by former MuteMath bassist Jonathan Allen and Adam LaClave, formerly of Earthsuit, this is yet another experimental/advante garde band out of the New Orleans area, which seems to be producing more than its fair share of exciting music that pushes the envelope. I got it, but I don't think most of the audience did. Definitely a break from the uber-recycled sounds of many of the bands I hear, and unique enough that they may require their own genre.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin at La Zona Rosa - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
One of the buzz bands of the blog set, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin was the second band. The first part of their set was ok, but the band swapped instruments midway through, and the second half was almost like a second band, with a very different sound and feel.
Though the vocals were a little rough, I liked the second half of their set better, because the music seemed to push the boundaries a bit more. The first part of the set reminded me somewhat of Wheezer, but not quite as poppy; the second half had a little bit of a Gang of Four vibe.
The Cinematics at La Zona Rosa - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
All the way from Glasgow Scotland, the Cinematics have a sound very reminiscent of wave bands of the 80s before MTV and LA ruined the genre and opened the floodgates. The guitar work is pure U2, Alarm, and Big Country. That's not too surprising, since they cite their influences as ranging from the Clash to the Talking Heads. Their debut album A Strange Education,released in March, was produced by Stephen Hague who has worked with New Order, Blur, and the Pet Shop Boys. This will be a band to watch, especially if you have a thing for 80s wave. They played a number of gigs in Austin during SXSW this year, including a spot at La Zona Rosa and on the SESAC Day Stage, and have built a pretty solid local following here, at least with the local girls.
Darren King of MuteMath - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
MuteMath is a band that is one monster single away from being huge. They have a mainstream sound that awaits only the right song to propel them into headlining the majors. A little like Sting, a little like Coldplay, with a definite Cajun flavor, and clean cut enough mom would invite them in for Sunday dinner if they dropped by. They are building an incredibly solid base of fans with their genre-hopping live performances.
On stage, the interplay between Paul Meany, on keys and vocals, and Darren King, on percussion, is very natural, and their gymnastics -- leaping onto, over, and doing headstands on the piano as well as intermittent crowd surfing -- guarantees the attention of the audience. And sometimes the EMTs. I got a couple of seconds to talk with Darren before their set, and asked about recent wounds. He pointed gingerly to a fresh 3-inch scar above his left eye. He always seems to draw blood. At the Fray show, he kicked over his drum kit, ended up in the audience, and was filmed afterwards with blood dribbling down his face from a different head wound.
I have mixed feelings about seeing MuteMath break. They are a great band and deserve it, but once they do it will be rare to see them in as intimate a venue. Do yourself a favor, if they come to town see them now, and soon you'll be able to say "Yeah I remember seeing those guys playing at a little club"
An outstanding set, a great performance, four great bands. It was a pretty good night.
Thanks to MuteMath, La Zona Rosa, CA Productions and Direct Events for hooking me up and getting me in.
MuteMath at La Zona Rosa - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer