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Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ The First Unitarian Church.

March 5, 2013

UMO01Text and images by Dana Ricci.

Back in the Spring of 2010 music bloggers heard an anoymous track called “Ffunny Ffriends” released on a bandcamp profile and they were determined to find out who was behind this song.

The band turned out to be Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and the indie-rock, psychedelic trio made a stop at the First Unitarian Church on Friday as part of their biggest U.S. headline tour yet. The tour promotes their sophomore album, II, released February 5. Classic rock and experimental pop group Foxygen has joined them on the tour, and the two together makes for quite the night of music.

After Foxygen closed with “San Francisco,” UMO took the stage and got right down to business opening with “No Need for a Leader,” a lively track off their self-titled debut album. Almost immediately, a palpable wave went through the crowd in the basement of the church. Lines of fans in the front began head-banging as circles of dancing erupted throughout the room.

UMO02The trio launched into “From the Sun,” off the new album, next, which was received by the crowd just as well as any old favorite was. Unknown Mortal Orchestra consists of frontman Ruban Neilson, Jake Portrait on bass, and Riley Geare, who is relatively new to the band, on the drums. Neilson, a Portland native, was in the New Zealand band the Mint Chicks which he disbanded with plans to quit music and start a day job. That was until he started making psychedelic demos in his basement and let music become his career again—phew!

The thing about Neilson is that he’s not only the great mind behind the band, he is a genuinely badass guitarist. Throughout the set he’d go into incredible solos. He’d get down on the ground and let the guitar riffs wail.

Once UMO played “Bicycle,” off their debut album, the crowd really got down to business. Even though this isn’t always the norm at lo-fi, psychedelic shows, a few mosh pits broke out and hardly anyone could contain their excitement. The folks at the show were rowdy—many yelled to the stage song requests and professions of their love for Neilson—yet kind. One of the more verbal audience members accidentally dumped his beer on me, and decided to take a break from his entrancement with UMO’s performance to apologize profusely to me for being “such an asshole.”

Once “Bicycle” ended, UMO threw themselves into “How Can You Luv Me,” another favorite from their old album. The crowd would constantly yell song requests between songs, to which Neilson replied, “You guys requested every deep cut there is!” before going into “Ffunny Friends,” the song they first anonymously released back in 2010.

Afterward, the trio went into “So Good at Being in Trouble,” off their new album as the closer. They came back for an intense, solo-heavy encore of “Boy Witch” which left the crowd energized before UMO exited the stage. With great music echoing in everyone’s head, a good time was had by all—covered in beer or not.

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