Despite various technical difficulties and growing tension between the bands and sound crew, Unknown Mortal Orchestra provided a crowd-pleasing set Tuesday night at T.T. the Bear’s.
The young and enthusiastic small crowd that settled in at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge were treated to a trifecta of indie rock performances from across the globe Tuesday night. Headlined by New Zealand’s psychedelic rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO), the show also featured the upcoming Brooklyn-based buzzband DIIV and Toronto’s Doldrums.
Starting the night off around 9:30pm was Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith’s new project DIIV. With a debut album set to be released on June 26th, DIIV has been especially active the past six months, releasing numerous singles that have gained plenty of critical acclaim across the blogosphere. Cole Smith took the stage with his band sporting a neon green “Malibu” sweatshirt, flipping his blonde bangs back during their jammy instrumental intro that exploded into their first song.
Performing first, the dream pop band found themselves adjusting their guitars and equipment often, all while maintaining the attention of a crowd eager to hear the new material they began to debut.
Highlights included their excellent recent single “How Long Have You Known” (above) and the Joy Division-esque set closer “Doused.”
Taking the stage next were Toronto newcomers Doldrums. Playing around with bombastic music samples and thumping percussion, the trio also experienced some sound problems, causing lengthy pauses and awkward chatter between songs. Despite the issues, the band sold their harmonic sound to the welcoming audience before UMO took the stage at 11:30pm.
Opening their set with a hypnotically atmospheric instrumental, further technical difficulties arose as Unknown Mortal Orchestra transitioned into their breakout hit “Ffunny Ffrends.” Frontman Ruban Nielson’s vocals were barely distinguishable over their swirling psychedelic guitars and an unbearable buzzing noise at the song’s end suggested a blown amplifier. ”Worst sound guy ever!” shouted someone in the crowd, causing a bitter murmuring from the crew in the back.
“It’s not like this didn’t happen three hours ago in sound check,” responded the visibly annoyed bassist Jake Portrait while adjusting his equipment.
A stagnant hush settled over the room as the sound engineer replied, “Can we just get on with the show?” Sensing the rising tension between the two camps, an audience member encouraged the band that the crowd was happy for them to be there and they soon blasted into their spunky album cut “Bicycle.”
Despite the altercation, the moving hips of the encouraging crowd caused a smiling Nielson to continue to cruise through fan favorites like “How Can You Luv Me” and even debut new material. A highlight of the evening was the slow jamming “Jello and Juggernauts” (see below), showcasing the impressive skill of UMO’s drummer.
In the end, the late night at T.T. the Bear’s was a success and the crowd walked away seemingly pleased with the indie performances. The incident caused Unknown Mortal Orchestra to respond with a series of tweets denouncing the venue but also encouraging fans of their inevitable return to Boston for more of the psychedelic rock and dream pop shoegaze that the night had to offer. We sure are excited.
Photo credit: Daniel Tassone