There are shows where you go expecting to get blown away, and do. Such was the case with the MUTEMATH show I attended 6 days before the writing of this review. Then, there are shows that you go to with neutral to optimistic expectations and leave going “whoa…”. This is a good “whoa.”
The concert took place in the tiny Rumba Cafe, an Ohio State campus area bar. Hardly the place a band with 100,000+ followers on Facebook alone would be expected to play. But play they did, to the unsurprisingly sold out crowd.
Philadelphia’s Cold Fronts kicked things off with their brand of classically influenced garage rock. They seemed kind of like a young Foo Fighters infused with the Black Keys. In fact, their drummer bore a bit of a resemblance to the latter’s Patrick Carney. Maybe it was just the glasses, but I digress – kudos to them for landing this spot on a short tour with a legendary indie band.
Tooth and Nail Records’ Sainthood Reps from Long Island, NY followed up played a half dozen cuts from their major label debut Monoculture. They opened with the catchy “Animal Glue” before proceeding into the Nirvana-esque “Dingus.” The band mentioned their performance at the Basement a couple of weeks before, which in my opinion in many ways was comparable to this one. “Hotfoot” was another set highlight, which featured the lead vocalist and the drummer simultaneously pounding the same set during the song outro. “Monoculture” and “Widow” rounded out their set. Props to the guys for creating a sort of organized chaos with moments of (relative) chill-out in their set.
MewithoutYou took the stage after a short break. I could hardly recognize Aaron Weiss behind his mustache and spectacles. Without any frills, they began their set with guitarist Michael Weiss casually announcing “Messes of Men.” Right away I could see just how well the band performs as a unit. A new song, “February 1878″ followed, which they revealed they were filming some sort of a video for. There is definitely some connection to “January 1979″ and the performance served as a preview for what is to come on their forthcoming LP, Ten Stories. “C-Minor” followed suit, and then “Paper Hanger”, a pleasant surprise to me, got the audience grooving some more. Other set highlights for me included “Tie Me Up! Untie Me!” and “Torches Together.” The main set ended with the simply reverent “Allah, Allah, Allah.” The inevitable encore brought the quintet back out for “January 1979″ (which by far got the most audience participation) and “In a Sweater Poorly Knit”, the latter of which one audience member was opting to chant instead of the usual “One more song!” when the audience cheered the guys back out.
Mewithoutyou is something to be experienced, but they are a no-frills band performing without the aid of an elaborate stage set-up. Their ability to put on an engaging, organic performance is testament to their longevity. Whether its watching their perpetually sweaty drummer’s odd facial expressions of Aaron Weiss’ bouncing and prancing, the band is as entertaining (in a non-forced way) as they are talented.