There comes a day for any music fan when shitty little clubs and small acoustic shows get a little redundant, no matter how great the bands. Sure, there’s great intensity in a good local rock show, and probably at least a handful of captivating tunes. But given the choice, a performance by U2 or Springsteen is probably going to trump whatever indie band is hitting the circuit that week.
MUTEMATH aspires to be one of those huge bands, despite its short 6-year tenure. When they stepped on to the stage of the House of Blues shortly after 9 Saturday night, yelps and whoops from the crowd signaled an understanding: this was going to be a show to remember. The band set the stage ablaze when it launched into “The Nerve,” one of the newest tunes off Armistice. Strobe lights pulsed with each drum hit as lead vocalist Paul Meany bounced around stage repeatedly crooning, “set it on fire,” keytar in hand. The Raconteurs came to mind when the simple-but-catchy guitar riff of “Backfire” rushed into a squealing solo, only to return to the same catchy-as-hell rip.
The real show really got underway, though, when drummer Darren King put himself in the limelight. Halfway through the set, he set up a cluster of four light-censored drum pads. With each lightening-fast move, King illuminated a piece of its upside-down U shape. Surprisingly, not everything was as fully planned out in advance. On songs like “Burden,” the band broke down into serious jams, integrating jazz, prog rock, a cappella, and even metal into long-stretching songs. The New Orleans band went straight from instrumental mayhem into “Typical,” a souring anthem and fan favorite that has U2 written all over it.
During the encore, King had fans hold up his bass drum so he could stand on top of the crowd Wayne Coyne-style during “Reset,” an experimental juggernaut of a song where Meany did handstands on the keyboard. King ended up ripping the top of one of his drums to shreds, only to feed it to a lucky fan before trotting offstage. However great the ending, MUTEMATH played every song like it was their last. Give this band a million-dollar tour budget and a recording session with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, and you might just hit jackpot.
Photo: Jerry Ray