by John Miller
Out of four potential shows this week, only
one was successful in regards to being able to review. Whether it be prior engagements,
miscommunication, or outright denial, this week as been particularly trying.
Tonight was no exception, however after things were quickly ironed out, entry
was obtained to this evening's show at the 9:30 Club. Unfortunately due to an
uncharacteristically busy Wednesday night, I was unable to catch the opening
There is comfort in the familiar; smells,
late night snacks, music. From the opening piece, Unknown Mortal Orchestra is
just that, familiar. That's not to say it feels trite or well worn; familiar
doesn't always have to be bourgeois. The music builds, and vocals feel
secondary. Layers of sound built on classic rhythmic patterns; building the
frame before the roof. The undercurrent of the bass, coalescing with the
synthesizer is a dangerous combination; familiar enough to lead the most
uncoordinated to believe it's okay to try and dance. The drums too, are
exceptionally steady; leading the marathon.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a band
that is deeply seeped in nostalgia. It's dangerous; the comfort that the past
provides often leads to complacency, however if properly harnessed, the
familiar can be a powerful tool. There is always this sense that the synth has
one of its many oscillators turned to 1978, that they lean a little too much on
the occasional jam, that structurally, songs aren't challenging. But then you
realize that you've been sitting here, engaged for the last hour and a half.
Yes, while it is certainly familiar, they are never beholden to the past, just
familiar enough to make you feel comfortable enough to make you think you can sing
along. While Unknown Mortal Orchestra may have their collective head looking
over their shoulder, tonight they march forward.