Where Did The Time Go?

I have this thing… I adore live music, but I typically get bored halfway through shows. This isn’t the fault of the performers (most of the time)… there’s just a point during most gigs where I have ceased to be engaged by the music and I want to either sit down and talk with the musicians about artsy things and influences and gear or go home and play guitar and write. I’ve come to terms with this quirk. 

Last night, Mute Math was on and off the stage in what felt like a few minutes of amazing, smart, tight musical beauty. Those few minutes were actually more like two hours. I didn’t get bored. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted them to keep playing.

Let’s back up and set the stage. Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta is what I would refer to as “my kind of venue” and, to be honest, I had forgotten how much I liked the vibe there. (I think the last show I saw there was John Mayer… when I was in college… and he wasn’t JOHN MAYER yet; he was just a dorky, pale Atlanta transplant with bad acoustic tone and decent chops). Smith’s is the kind of bar that has ruts in the stage where the front men of countless, mostly-forgotten bands have stood and sweated and played for little more than tab money and dirty south notoriety. Smith’s makes no apologies for being what it is… a small-ish, intimate, great place to see live music (and go home reaking of nicotine).

Opening… Mat Kearney. Note to Mat: what’s going on with the missing “T?” In other news, you have so much potential. I really do enjoy your album and your writing. You make me smile. And while I semi-understand the expense of bringing a band on the road and trying to make a living… YOU NEED A BAND. That being said, a decent opening set comprised of the rap/folk, punctuated by breaking two strings at two different times, being forced to play the back-up guitar, a Taylor with the ES system pickup (ES stands for “Eeeees a piece of crap”) and Mat muttering “stupid Taylor” and “I hate that guitar” under his breath. Technical malfunctions aside, the guy’s good… spot-on vocals, catchy tunes… he just needs a band (or at least another guitar player) to relay some of the dynamics that make his album work so well.

And with no pause in between sets… Muth Math. What the oh my dang. Here are a few pictures… but they don’t do the energy of the show any justice. I was four feet away from the stage and I couldn’t capture it. First off, let me just say that Geek Chic and collars are SO IN. There was much in the way of skinny ties on stage last night. There was also lo-fi gear (taped on headphones for the Animal-esque drummer Darren King) in abundance. And start to finish… it was a well-planned, well-performed show. The emotional and dynamic change was built into the set as much as the individual songs. 

Somehow MM manages to remind me of The Police, Devo, new wave punk, Talking Heads, Earthsuit (sorry… I might be living in the past… but it’s there), british dub, british reggae, and everyone who’s ever used delay well… all at once, with a KEYTAR in tow (and in my face when Paul meany started dancing, rocking, and Keytaring on top of the subs in front of the stage) and with more starts and stops and sixteenth notes on the hi-hat than you can handle. They played most of the Reset EP (including a solo Rhodes Piano encore of OK), a lot of tasty material from the new album (slated for September), and, suprisingly, You Are Mine, a track from the Earthsuit to Macrosick to Mute Math transition period. And I just wanted them to keep playing.

Go see this band. Soon. Travel long distances. Sell valued possessions. Sell your grandma. Mame people if you must.