It was another unseasonably warm Wednesday evening here in the Big Apple, and I find myself standing in very familiar music venue; Terminal 5. The venue that everyone loves to hate because of its “way out of the way” location. But tonight, that venue was transformed into the place everyone else wishes they were at when MUTEMATH brought their Vitals Tour to their biggest headlining date in NY ever.
They also brought friends along for the ride. Nashville based Paper Route opened the night strong with their brand of indie rock. Now, I remember seeing this band only one time years ago and they impressed me today as much as I remember they did back then. Strong vocals from lead singer JT Daly, coupled with staggering stage presence and charisma won everyone who wasn’t familiar with them over in seconds. Opening with “Love Letters,” this upbeat tune set the stage for the rest of their set, with “Wish,” and “Laugh About It” following in quick succession. Their 8 songs came to an all too soon end, with fans clapping and hollering for more.
And then the anticipation started building. MUTEMATH fans from far and wide quickly filled in any open spots within the crowd. The sea of people erupted in applause and cheers as soon as the lights went down and the opening notes of “Stratosphere” blared across the speaker. Drummer Darren King ceremoniously taped his headphones to his head, and it began.
Seeing as this is my umpteenth time catching this band live, I was fully prepared for what was to come. Songs melded seamlessly into each other, often times with new arrangements tacked onto the end that opened beautifully into jam sessions or opportunities for front-man Paul Meany to stretch his limbs and make contact with the audience, or killer solo from either Roy Mitchell-Cardenas or Todd Gummerman. The fourth song of the night, “Clipping,” absolutely engulfed the room. T5’s sound system got a thorough workout and I have never heard this song sound as good live as it did just then. Guys holding onto their girlfriends near the bar took a minute to settle into the intense bass and nod along, and minutes later, we were all dancing to “Light Up.”
Meany’s vocals held up well during the marathon 22-song set. From the tender “All I See,” to “Best Of Intentions,” which explores the limits of his range, it made me wonder how he was able to pull this off night after night. “Blood Pressure” struck a supreme high note with the crowd, showing off a new arrangement that almost knocked the plaster off the walls with its groove. On “Bulletproof,” Darren unleashed the full power of his drumming skills, leveling the room. If that wasn’t enough, he slapped gloves on some lucky fans in the front row. The gloves, wired for drum sounds and rigged with LED’s, were the perfect vehicle for what he has dubbed the “Hi-Five Solo.” You’d have to see it to believe how amazing it was.
By the time “Spotlight” was played, the night had reached its peak. There is always a moment during every MUTEMATH show when the people who were trying their best to look completely unaffected absolutely lose their shit. For the guy standing against the wall holding his drink, and the girl incessantly texting, this moment burned MUTEMATH’s name into the brains of all of the uninitiated. Paul jumped up against the barricade and grasped all the hands he could to steady himself. “OK, I want you to give it all you’ve got!” and he lead a call and response that made me sickeningly giddy, before collapsing onto the outstretched arms for a crowd-surf around the audience.
But it didn’t end there. No way. A MUTEMATH show simply does not end there. After winding down with “Remain,” and “Monument,” they ramped up the intensity yet again for 2 of their biggest hits, “Reset,” and “Typical.” The illustrious keytar was strapped to Meany’s back as he danced wildly around the stage and did jumps off his keyboard. Then out of nowhere, an inflatable mattress with flashing lights appeared, and just as quickly, Paul got a running start and launched himself onto it for another surf around the crowd, singing all the while. At that point, even the “VIPs” who were sitting down all night rose to their feet.
The level of showmanship that these 4 guys display at each show is nothing short of spectacular. They manage to raise the bar each time, and I’m not quite sure how they’re able to do it. But this is why they have such loyal fans. Apart from being great people in general – inviting people up to play with them, getting fans into sold out shows, etc – they meticulously think about every second of their show and every way to make it a memorable experience, no matter if it’s your first show or the 100th.
As they prepare to embark on the Emotional Roadshow tour this summer with Twenty One Pilots, I can only imagine what antics they will pull off in the much larger venues and arenas. I promise you won’t want to miss it.
All I See
You Are Mine
Best of Intentions
Article: Lesley Keller