Early starts can be difficult for bands and fans alike. It is usually the norm that gigs start much later than announced in Vienna. This was not the case in B72 on Saturday night though as Mozes and the Firstborn started more than punctually without even a hello to the rather sparse “early birds” in their support slot on Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s European tour.
It didn’t take long until the crowd began to fill up however as they heard the mating call of the Mozes cry out for all to come and wonder at their grunge garage rock brilliance. Their natural energy and aggression on stage was on show as they powered through the tracks off their debut album, only taking a pause to exchange words with the crowd after they had a good few songs under their belts. Mozes and the Firstborn make songs to restore your faith in guitar music, and long may it continue.
With the crowd now well and truly warmed up it was time for the guys from New Zealand to take to the stage. Donned all in black, Ruban Nielson, lead singer and mastermind behind Unknown Mortal Orchestra took up his position on stage behind a sea of pedals and effect units, which would all be made use of over the course of the vocally distorted and guitar fuzzed gig.
There were no introductions as Nielson balanced his guitar on this right shoulder in a fashion which looked extremely uncomfortable and awkward. Unorthodox is a word which first comes to mind watching this band on stage. Everything about them seems to go against the norm as Nielson shreds his way through epic guitar solos without the use of a plectrum and his black painted finger nails produce a wall of sound from that lonely guitar.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s development over the last few years has been a rather quick one. It all started off as a bedroom project and a bandcamp track without any background details in 2010 and the band has since developed a world wide following thanks to positive reviews across the Internet. Their was still a major DIY element to their live show however. It was rough around the edges and at times seemed a little ad libbed and spontaneous as they swayed in and out of epic sequences and arrangements which didn’t seem to have much pattern.
It was only until after around 20 minutes of playing that Nielson decided to address the crowd through his vocally distorted mic. A wry smile finally came to the lips of the singer as he announced his joy at being on tour in Europe and treated fans to an acoustic version of “Swim and Sleep (like a shark).
It was a performance of great highs like the fantastic “so good at being in trouble” and disappointing lows like the rather lethargically sloppy “How can u luv me”. Despite having so many good tracks at their disposal a lot of the quality was lost under too many effects, fuzz and at times unnecessarily long solo sequences which grew a little tiring after a while.