There's something magical about watching fireworks; the way they shoot up, lighting up dark skies, and the reactions you see from people of all ages as they ohh and ahh at all of the colors and shapes.
There's one downfall of watching fireworks, though: You kind of already know what's going to happen. MuteMath was like fireworks. The band had so many surprises in store for the crowd on Friday that were akin to that feeling, and we're pretty sure we weren't the only ones who felt it.
We have to admit, we started the evening on a high note, thanks to the MuteMath mobile app. It was updated in real time, so we constantly checked to see if the bands were on stage yet, what kinds of instagram photos were posted, what the crowd was like, etc. For the first time, we were able to enjoy dinner in peace, not having to rush through it to make sure we didn't miss the first band. We arrived at 9, and, as promised by the app, Canon Blue was taking to the stage.
Canon Blue was a good choice for an opening act, as it probably played at the same level MuteMath did five years ago. Its music was at once melodic and catchy, and drum charges led the crowd to shout really random college game cheers (Ole, Ole, Ole, anyone?). Miami was definitely present there too, as a random group of bros decided it was appropriate to yell "La Sawesera" a total of ten times in ten minutes. Luckily, the music was so good that it didn't really have an impact on our experience.
At 9:30 sharp (as the app had predicted), Canon Blue cleared its instruments to make way for the main attraction. There wasn't a spot in the house where a short person could really get a good view of the stage, so we opted for a balcony view behind the stage. We actually caught a glimpse of what it must feel like for the band, seeing every crowd surfer, every mosh-pit opening, every move from every band member. The strong sweat/humidity combo rising in the air wasn't felt behind the stage as strongly as it was throughout the rest of the venue, and it felt more like a meat locker than a sauna (though a few trips to the bathroom proved daunting).
MuteMath kind of took to the stage at 10 p.m. sharp. The show actually started with a string of lights raised in the center of the crowd, then a drum set, and a procession of band members followed as they propped themselves up. We'll say this: The security on Friday must've been really good to accommodate the band's various jump-in-the-crowd antics.
We caught a glimpse of what was in store the moment main drummer Daren King climbed the stage and began quickly taping his headphones to his face -- it was definitely that kind of a high-energy show.
Lead vocalist Paul Meany prompted the crowd to raise their hands, as ladies surfed the predominantly male pit. One thing we didn't really understand, though: Why was there so much moshing? MuteMath doesn't really lend itself to that, but it just seemed to further amplify the energy.
At first, the band sounded really similar to the Black Keys -- bluesy and with plenty of drum solos. MuteMath knew how to amp us up too, and as it performed "Blood Pressure" fairly early in the set (the fourth song), blood pressures rose as we all wondered what would happen next.
The part full-on music festival performance, part jam session continued as the bassist began to play one of the extra drums on stage, then switched to playing bass with a drum stick, followed by playing cymbal. (Each band member used to be a drummer, and they all seem to play all of the instruments onstage -- and well.) Meany jumped on an additional percussion instrument, just further proving what real polymaths they all are.
There were minor pauses between each song -- probably for band members to catch their breath -- as they emptied water bottles into the pit in the hope of calming the crowd. That it did, as the moshing stopped and lighters went up in unison (and in some cases glowsticks).
Meany acted very much like Bono on Friday, with his constant arm raised, God-like. He guided the crowd's energy, climbing instruments, being pushed to the center of the audience on movable stages, and prompting big vents to simultaneously shoot out smoke and confetti. His vocals ranged from powerful to just plain ethereal, and as he played the organ while doing handstands, we thought the gimmicks and showmanship couldn't get any better -- but they did.
The bassist switched to guitar and the guitarist to keyboards as Meany's voice carried the crowd, and we almost felt like we were floating. King poured water on his drums, and every time he hit them, water splashed on the crowd. An enormous inflatable square was thrown into the crowd, and as Meany dove onto it, he sang us into submission as best as he could.
He powered through songs off of the band's latest album, Odd Soul, and the hits, changing the range from bluesy rock show to Bible chorus, then full-on dance-like anthems. Once the band came back for its two-song encore, Meany gave up the movable stages and decided to dive right in and have his fans prop him up as he belted through "Typical." The show was anything but, though.
Something can be said for watching a band perform in its prime, and that's definitely where MuteMath is at in its career right now. It didn't miss a beat, nothing was off-key, and the stage theatrics were just what the crowd needed to stay hyped up for the two-hour-long set.
Personal bias: Seeing the show from behind the stage was an uhhh... interesting experience.
The crowd: high school kids, frat bros, middle-agers -- this crowd was truly all ages.
Overheard in the crowd: From some frat bro standing next to us: "This is my first show. Are they gonna mosh? Are they gonna play ska? What are they called again? Mathematics of Silence?"
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Random detail: I don't think I've ever seen so many instrument changes/switches in one set among band members.
Random crowd detail: There were two guys in the front row wearing shirts that each read MM. They were standing next to each other, so we couldn't help but read "Mmmm."