LIVE REVIEW: Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ The Central, LA 2/26/12
You’d think a Sunday show on Oscar night in Los Angeles would draw a dead or non-existent crowd, right? Surprisingly, The Central was completely packed with an enthusiastic crowd. In fact, several celebrities were in attendance rubbing elbows with us common folk. Opener White Arrows warmed up the crowd with their electronic tinged psychedelic rock. They had a really interesting sound that got the crowd moving. Unfortunately the band ended their set unseen, completely engulfed in fog. Word to the wise, next time don’t bring an industrial strength fog machine to a tiny venue.
With their quirky videos and their multicultural origins (made up of New Zealanders and Americans and formed in Portland), it would be easy to joke about Unknown Mortal Orchestra as a Flight of the Concords/Portlandia mash-up. However, after watching their performance at The Central in Santa Monica, it was pretty clear that UMO was a band to be taken seriously. Before they went on I overheard a couple of people talking about seeing UMO the night before at the Echoplex clear across town. Yes, they were that good.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s upbeat, psychedelic yet unequivocally rock ‘n roll sound translates perfectly to a live setting. Major props have to be given to the band for their musicianship. The three-piece band is tight and sounds fantastic. Unknown Mortal Orchestra performed songs from their recently released self-titled album to a loving and completely engaged crowd. On their record, UMO can sometimes sound playful. The playfulness did not transfer to the live performance but the music had a certain underlying funk to it. In fact, at several points in the set there was a dance pit in front of the stage. Highlights included “Thought Ballune,” “Ffunny Ffrends,” and “Strangers are Strange.” They also performed a surprising cover of Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam” which, upon reflection, is a perfect fit with UMO’s sonic aesthetic.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the rare buzz band deserving of internet hype. Keep your eyes (and ears) open for them. UMO is currently finishing up headlining gigs on the West Coast and will be supporting critically acclaimed band Girls in March.