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Wednesday night saw New Zealand’s own, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, hit the Danforth Music Hall to a plethora of eager fans packing the mezzanine and ground floor. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson, UMO is brimming with influences from multiple genres that create a unique auditory experience. Blending together psychedelic and indie rock along with elements of blues, jazz, and garage, Nielson’s performance was a pleasure to witness in it’s entirety. With an aesthetically pleasing stage setup, (shag carpet on the stage floor, light pillars in the background, a vinyl record player) this only added to UMO’s impressive live show. In promotion of UMO’s newly released album, Sex & Food, this stage setup fit perfectly with the album’s aesthetic perfectly as well.
Not only playing top tracks off his entire discography, Nielson also tore it up with a number of deep cuts as well. It was very apparent to me that the venue was packed to capacity with loyal fans considering hundreds of voices were ringing out harmonizing with Nielson. Surprisingly, UMO’s set was also pretty heavy. In terms of in the studio when listening to the majority of Nielson’s work, I did not really picture his live take to be so energetic. With the audience forming mosh pits and dancing exuberantly throughout the night, I was pleasantly surprised by this turn in the night.
Although the night was chock full of memorable moments that made UMO’s show one of my favorites at the Danforth, there were two moments in particular that stood out to me. The first, was when UMO absolutely ripped it up on stage with one of my favorite tracks off of Sex & Food, “American Guilt”. When that guitar opens up followed by those drums….damn. It reminded me very similarly of a Jimi Hendrix song with a modern spin. It only showed that Nielson is a master of writing not only dreamy lo-fi music but also absolutely nailing a more heavy and raw rock feel. The second instance was when Nielson made his way through the crowd earlier on in his show while shredding on his Gibson. I loved the interaction he displayed toward the crowd, high-fiving and jumping along with fans both in the GA and upper levels.
Closing out the night with a killer encore as well which culminated to numerous fans crowd surfing and everyone on stage jamming hard, Unknown Mortal Orchestra was definitely one for the books. For more information on Nielson’s current tour across both North America and the rest of the world, check unknownmortalorchestra.com