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Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Live at Bar Bodega, 20/07/13

29 Jul 2013 // A review by Alistar3000

It’s been pretty hard to ignore all the hype about Unknown Mortal Orchestra (or UMO as all the cool kids are calling them). If you’d managed to ignore music media, failed to read any music blogs, took no interest in SXSW this year, then you might have just pulled it off. So it was no surprise that Wellington’s Bar Bodega was jam packed full of kids ready to rock out to ex-Mint Chick Ruban Nielson and friends.

First up was Las Tetas, an Auckland three-piece playing rough indie rock with a dash of punk – I was reminded a little bit of Hole, if Courtney Love had been more interested in just rocking out than getting wasted and making a dick of herself. And these girls know how to rock; the already substantial crowd was getting right into it, with plenty of dancing and banter with the band.

But it was clearly UMO’s night, and that was who the crowd were there to see, whipping themselves into a frenzy, and some even managing to faint before the band started. A few technical difficulties meant that the band started later than planned, which led to some false alarms as various roadies and techs appeared on stage trying to get things sorted. Soon enough though the lights dimmed and UMO took the stage. They last played here in January, around the time their second album was released, and by all accounts that was a good show, so I was interested to see what the band had in store for us this time round.

I have to admit here that I don’t know much of the band’s material; I’ve listened to the albums in passing, and have never seen them live. So I didn’t have many expectations, although I did think it’d be a pretty laid back affair, based on the two albums. That didn’t turn out to be the case. Ruban Nielson wrestles his guitar on stage like he’s having to force it to make the sweet, sweet psychedelic sounds escape it, while drummer Riley Geare is relentless in his pounding of the drums, laying down some huge beats to drive the songs. The whole time bassist Jake Portrait is rocking some smooth basslines that just tie everything in together.

Let’s just say it was easy to see why the band attracts so much hype, particularly for their live shows, and why 500 or so sweaty music fans were left wowed at Bodega.

About Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The new project of The Mint Chicks' Ruban Nielson – now based in Portland, Oregon.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra first appeared around a year ago, more a song than a set, more an idea than an identity. They dazzled all who heard them with sound drawing on the freedom of '60s psychedelia and swampy '70s funk, with multi-tracked, heavily treated vocals recalling the raw emotion of R&B from any era.

The songs filtered around via email then blogs, but there were no images, no bios, no lists of band members with prior projects prominent. There wasn't even a live show - which just served to focus attention on the music. And while New Zealanders who heard it instantly suspected a Mint Chicks connection, overseas the slate remained blank: "Information essentially doesn't exist, aside from it being a solo project hailing from Portland," said I Guess I'm Floating, summing up the absence.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Releases

Multi-Love
Year: 2015
Type: Album
II
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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