When I got word that Darren King, the drummer for MUTEMATH, would be sitting in the entire week in the band on Late Night with Seth Myers, my first reaction was one of sheer happiness. My second reaction quickly shifted to one of hopefulness. Hopeful for a side show of some sort to materialize while he spent some time in my fair city. Would his schedule allow it? What would a solo Darren show be like? Well those questions were answered loudly when Darren, dubbed DK the Drummer, booked his first solo show at none other than Mercury Lounge. I couldn’t grab tickets fast enough.
Watching Darren throughout the years, it’s glaringly obvious the huge role he plays in MUTEMATH’s sound that often goes beyond strictly drums. Having joined the fan ranks back when he still did trust falls off his drum into the crowd, swung from rafters, doused his kit in water, and made leaps from crowd to stage that earned him bloody limbs on more than one occasion, I was eager to see what he’d come up with to fill a late, late night set in the Lower East Side on a Wednesday evening. Reaching into his arsenal, he constructed a set of mashups with his live drums on top, which we’ve gotten glimpses into on his YouTube and Instagram in the past.
Sporting a full beard and a warm smile, he meticulously set up his gear, tweaking and fiddling until everything came together just right. A roll of tape that MUTEMATH fans are definitely familiar with lay at his feet. But not the humane, mildly sticky gaff tape we are so used to seeing. No, it was REAL duct tape… on a fully bearded man. OUCH. Having watched him play the previous 2 nights on Seth Myers without tape securing headphones to his head, looking like a caged animal aching to be unleashed, tonight would definitely be different.
The set ranged from The Beatles, to Beyonce, to Kraftwerk, to Jay-Z, to Snoop Dogg and Beastie Boys, all seamlessly blended; ebbing and flowing around his live drumming like the most intricate of tapestries. Who knew this show, this experiment in musicianship, would be the best show I’ve seen all week? The sold-out crowd hooted and hollered during every stretch of drumming from King. Various images were projected behind King during the night to add another sensory layer to the performance, and just when you thought the night couldn’t get any more surreal – a break in the entertainment. He pauses for a moment, explains what is about to happen, and then simply plays one of his remixes over the loud speaker, and projects one of the most iconic dance scenes from the Peanuts cartoon behind him, and asks us to help him fulfill a lifelong dream of his.
Heading straight into the crowd, we all danced with him without hesitation. It was the most pure, most free, and one of the most touching moments of the night and one I’m sure he’ll never forget.
With the performance ending well after midnight, I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who felt like we could continue well into the wee hours of the morning. The last song (that I wish upon all things I recorded) left me entranced, it was that godly. I hope someone reading this can tell me what that mashup was because I cannot stop thinking about it. Luckily, the outlook is quite high to get a chance to hear it again live in the future. DK the Drummer has already said he’s interested in doing more of these kinds of solo shows. I’m confident it will be another sell-out performance and more than worth the 1.5 hours sleep I got that night.
Article: Lesley Keller