I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to see MuteMath at The Granada in Lawrence, Kansas. As I arrived, the line stretched all the way back to the next intersection and things did not look good. The band had announced that the show – which was scheduled to start at 8 pm – would be delayed until further notice. From the rumors of those standing in front of me in line, I determined that MuteMath’s bus either a) broke down b) caught on fire or c) blew up (let’s hope it wasn’t this one). By 9:30, though, everyone was inside and the show kicked off. And it would be a show I will never forget.
Civil Twilight: Because of the near-two hour-long delay, Civil Twilight, the only opening act, played on the floor of The Granada while the main stage was being set up for MuteMath. Civil Twilight were impressive in the style of indie rock that they played. While the guitars were heavy and atmospheric, they were neither too distorted nor too loud. Steven McKellar’s vocals were smooth and stylish, emitting emotional despair and calm, welcoming restraint. The band finished with their eponymous (well, eponymous to me, at least) “Letters From The Sky” and I found myself consistently captivated by their smothering instrumentation and chilling vocals. Civil Twilight put on a solid, memorable performance, but it was no feat for what was to come. Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
MuteMath: I wish I was more into these guys before I heard them play. Because though I knew less than half of the songs MuteMath played, they were stunning from start to finish, putting on one of the most enticing, enthralling, and entertaining live performances I’ve ever seen. As the lights dimmed, the quartet entered through the back door – each of the band members playing percussion – and hovered up on to the stage without a single worry of the show being canceled. The band began by trekking into territory that I’m more familiar with, as the first three songs they played were off their most recent release Odd Soul. These songs were exciting mainly due to Darren King’s snazzy, eclectic drumming. King twisted himself around his drum set like I’ve never seen before; he even had to tape on his headphones because he was moving around so much.
MuteMath rumbled on with a mix of songs off all three of their albums, and though I only knew a track here or there, I got sucked into the band’s performance. At one point during the set, lead vocalist Paul Meany crowd-surfed on a mattress. The next thing I knew, dueling air cannons shot confetti into the crowd not once, not twice, but three times. It felt like one huge celebration of life, and thankfully, the bluesy, rocky, keyboard-heavy sound fit the mood perfectly. In music, moments like these are surreal.
Meany played piano throughout the set, adding spark to his crisp, windy vocals, while the classic rock-esque guitar of Todd Gummerman met Roy Mitchell-Cardenas’ exquisite bass work with a groovy, bouncy finesse. The band exited with instrumental track “Collapse,” which showcased their more creative, experimental side at work but flew right into “Typical,” the cheeriest and most sentimental of their songs, before leaving the stage. I was in chills throughout the set; never has a band sucked me into their performance like MuteMath did. The only other artist that I’ve seen put on a better set is Switchfoot, and since they’re my favorite band, that’s really saying something. I’m just fortunate that I was able to witness such musical magic. Rating: 5 / 5 stars