There’s not many bands that I can say I’d travel miles and miles for, camp out hours for, spend unspeakable amounts of money for, except for MUTEMATH. I analyze the years in my life as BM and AF; before MUTEMATH and after MUTEMATH. That’s how vital to my existence this band has been. Oddly enough, I found out about MUTEMATH from my love of John Mayer and my mild obsession with quite possibly his best album, Continuum. At that time, I was dead set on Googling any and everything about John Mayer in hopes of finding some rare b-side or something obscure that would make me love him even more. One morning, John took to his blog as he usually did back in those days and posted about this band called MUTEMATH. “Melody champs” is how he referred to them and their self-titled debut album. On the cover of that album, 4 figures dressed in suits with orbs of light where their heads should have been. I looked at the cover and thought “this would be one of those albums that vinyl diggers would definitely buy based on the artwork alone.” I trusted John Mayer, and I trusted the vinyl diggers enough to give it a go.
Their sound hit me like 1000 bricks. Sure, Continuum was great, but this was something that woke me up. I told everyone I knew about the record. My boyfriend at the time laughed at me because I had never shown an interest in a rock record like I did this one. Fast-forward a few months later, it happened. I saw MUTEMATH play a show at Irving Plaza and I remember feeling like THIS WAS IT. You know that feeling where you thought you knew everything there is to know about something, and then you have an epiphany and everything changes. THIS WAS IT. I called my boyfriend after the show and stumbled over my words about how great their performance was. He laughed over the phone. I laughed too because I had never been so enthusiastic about anything in my life before.
And that’s how it began. As simply as that, I was a MUTEMATH fan for life and they would be my favorite band, ever. From city to city I went to any MUTEMATH show I could logically, and often times illogically afford. Each time I saw them they gave their all, every last drop of blood, sweat and tears was poured into their performance and it was supremely inspiring for me. Even when they took years to work on their album, I still remained their faithful fan and I was reminded exactly why at their show Thursday night at Baby’s All Right that was presented by Communion Music.
Warming up the crowd beforehand was a DJ by the name of Quiet Entertainer. I saw him open for MUTEMATH in Pittsburgh before. He never utters a word and uses a computerized voice, and hand gestures to get the crowd engaged. He had a ton of energy and was a pure delight to see and hear. He had a lot of interesting mixes that I would have never thought about putting together, and he made the most of his 30 minutes onstage.
Now, for those of you who have never been lucky enough to see MUTEMATH perform, I will attempt to put into words what it’s like. I don’t know what happens in that room when they play, but time seems to stop and speed up at the same time. I’ve never once left a MUTEMATH show without feeling like I want to cry out of release and jubilation, without sweating out half my body weight, and without losing my voice. Paul Meany is a brilliant songwriter, and he writes songs that you have to sing at the top of your lungs when you see him. I don’t know many singers that can nail vocals while crowdsurfing or does handstands on their Rhodes, but Paul is THAT DUDE. Plus, when’s the last time you saw someone make a keytar look absolutely badass? It’s amazing to see someone who is such a ball of energy on stage, but when I’ve spoken to him offstage, he is the most chill, humble, laid back, welcoming person you’d ever be lucky enough to meet. Darren King is the animal on the drums.
When anyone asks who my favorite drummer is, my answer is always Darren. Its like he goes to another place, somewhere other worldly when he plays and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. That is, until he plucks his kit apart and throws the drums into the crowd and proceeds to wail on a blistering solo. He plays so intensely he has to gaff tape his headphones to his head, and it’s something he’s become well known for. Roy Mitchell-Cardenas is an absolute wizard on bass. He also plays other instruments in the band, but this man is one of the secret weapons in the band. Finally, Todd Gummerman. Todd joined the group during the last tour and has more than earned his place in the band. He can crank out some interesting guitar parts and kill it on synths. The 4 of them are just outright great, genuine people. Every time I’ve had the pleasure of talking to them they greeted me with a hug.
They played so many crowd favorites – “Typical,” “Spotlight,” “Blood Pressure,” “Noticed,” “Picture.” Then the B-sides – “Clockwork,” and “Progress.” The new songs “Joy Rides,” “Monument,” “Used To,” “Light Up.” Even a cover of The Police’s “Voices Inside My Head.” The new songs sounded lush and beautiful and reminded me of why I love MUTEMATH so much. The songs just kept coming and coming, each one adding pressure until what I refer to as the holy trifecta happened. “Reset” directly into “Break The Same” and then directly into “Quarantine.” These 3 songs in this order tore the roof off the place. Paul walked out into the crowd; Darren played his drums in the crowd. I’m sure if there were enough room inside the building they would have brought out the LED mattress that Paul loves to crowd surf on.
I looked at the guy next to me when “Break The Same” came on and his expression mirrored mine. Our eyes said “HOLY SHIT.” This moment is why they have such loyal fans. All hell broke loose and people still stayed relatively respectful. Paul emerged from the crowd sweaty, but unscathed. People mostly wanted to hug him or pat him on the back. Everyone’s sentiment was the same – love. We all love this band, and we are so proud of all of their successes. Not love in the “oh, he’s so dreamy” kind of love. The “I got your back” love. The kind of love where you want nothing but the best for them. The kind of love that your life has been exponentially better because of them. That’s what I feel for this band, and every time I leave their shows with a sore throat and full of pride, I hope that I am giving back to them what they give to us all. I remember when I was younger, watching footage of Michael Jackson fans crying and fainting when they finally saw him take the stage. I didn’t understand why or how they could feel so intensely for a band until I became a MUTEMATH fan. Now I get it.
With their forthcoming album, Vitals, set to be released in a month’s time, this show, as great as it was, will be nothing compared to the full-scale tour they will embark on in support of the album. They are notorious for coming up with inventive and immersive stage sets, graphics and lighting, plus with bigger stages come bigger antics. Swinging from rafters and diving from balconies has been done before. What new heights will they take us to next? I’m excited to see it all unfold.
Article: Lesley Keller