April 27, 2018

Unknown Mortal Orchestra played Brooklyn Steel

Earlier this year, Unknown Mortal Orchestra released their latest full-length record, Sex & Food. To support the album, the band stopped by Brooklyn Steel for two sold-out shows, as part of their world tour.

On their fourth record, Unknown Mortal Orchestra continue their streak of hazy funk and psych-rock, but where they shine in the studio, they seem to fizzle on stage. Distorted beyond compare, Ruban Nielson's vocals were practically impossible to make out and while his guitar chops looked impressive, the sound was muddled and compressed giving the band a deflated sense that seemed to fall flat on arrival. The excellent saxophone solo on "Necessary Evil" was replaced by a cheapened synth line that made the song feel downplayed and condensed for the stage. Songs felt elongated and almost to an unnecessary degree, with almost every track stretching out just beyond pleasure. The set list, however, did give the night the extra help it needed. The band eased into the set with deep cuts from their first records, taking on more of their psych sensibilities before progressing into more of their synth-pop glimmer. "Ffunny Friends" into "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" was a stellar opening and allowed the night build at a steady pace. The lighting and presence of the band also did wonders to enhance the performance. During one extend guitar solo, Nielson crawled off the stage and made his way all the way to the back bar, up into the balcony, and back around to the stage. The band played to their strengths and weaved a large amount of their discography into the set, appeasing fans from throughout their career. Ending the evening with "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" was certainly the highlight for the majority of the crowd and the band really saved their most compelling light display for this moment as well. For a band that is able to capture such excitement on their recordings, it was a shame to watch them never quite be able to reproduce that magic and instead settle for something that makes them feel way to junior for so much talent.

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