Mute Math | 10.23.09

live_mutemath_sm.gifLots of toys, lots of sounds, lots of looping and lots of feedback. 

The Pageant, St. Louis

Oh, these boys came out smoking. Frontman Paul Meany, clad in a militaristic jacket, brought the tambourine with him to the mic as the band launched straight into the intense "The Nerve" from brilliant new album Armistice. Next up, the uber-catchy "Backfire"—such a distinctive guitar line—found Meany adjusting his vocal effects before strapping on the keytar for the first of many times. "Chaos" found the vocalist seated at the piano, thanking people who drove from "miles and miles around."

The stage had an arch at the back, beneath which lights were criss-crossing, arcing behind and around the structure. For a chilled-out version of "Clipping," the arch served as a screen for video projection. After the introduction of additional instruments, including xylophone and upright bass, the song finally swelled and rocked out at the end.

One of the oddest—and underused—stunts of the night kicked off "No Response": a man stood before the screen, "playing" drums and cymbals by tapping circles of light. Neat effect, but it was over all too soon, never to return. Toward the end of "Control," the music slowed but the drums doubled. That was how the night would go: building walls of sound just to knock them down, stripping the song bare before piling sound upon sound again.

Lots of toys, lots of sounds, lots of looping and lots of feedback fed into the extended version of "Stare at the Sun," which culminated in a no-holds-barred percussion freakout. White lights, smoke and strobes aptly illuminated "Electrify"; lots of songs from Armistice meant Laura was a happy girl. Next up, the title track saw the return of the keytar to underscore Meany’s white-boy-soul voice.

Mute Math kicked things down a notch with a couple of slower songs—"You Are Mine" and "Odd"—before kicking it out with "Noticed." By the time "Not So Typical" hit, Meany was in full stride, climbing atop his piano to really stroke that ax…er, keytar. A full rockstar jump off the instrument was a given. Another killer guitar line lifted "Burden," which exploded in a buildup of sound and feel, effects and noise, voice and music, looping and creating.

Returning for their encore, Mute Math first delivered "Pins and Needles": the stage bathed in golden light, drums hit by brushes only, arrangement kept sparse and simple. Next up, my must-hear song, "Spotlight," peppered with an excellent wall of reverb, brilliant lights and static displayed onscreen. Perfect!

Last up, "Break the Same" began with a long instrumental introduction. As the song filled out, it became very textured, Mute Math experimenting with sounds, layering, looping, distorting. We got handstands, jumps, distortion, dancing, a random banging of keys. After all that, they brought it down again—way down: a gentle piano melody, the stage bathed in blue light. Did I say "gentle"? Once again, we were treated to absolute anarchy onstage before the noise fell away. Show over, stage lights up, the band jumps into the adoring crowd. | Laura Hamlett

Set list

The Nerve
No Response
Stare at the Sun
You Are Mine
Not So Typical

Pins and Needles
Break the Same



About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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