Mutemath, Big Scary

Mutemath, Big Scary
Billboard | 22 March 2013

Indie band Big Scary are the perfect warm up for Mutemath, as guitarist/vocalist Tom Iansek and drummer Jo Syme give a great performance, sounding like ten people on stage instead of just two. Their songs sound more rock than indie tonight, which suits the sizeable crowd who listen appreciatively.

Mutemath emerge from the back of the room, making their way through the audience to the stage, where they proceed to blast everyone away with the rock assault of the first three tracks – Odd Soul, Pyrtania, and Blood Pressure – from their latest album Odd Soul. Spotlight sees lead singer Paul Meany channel a combination of the flamboyance and stagecraft of Freddie Mercury and the suaveness of Mike Patton. Several energised fans scream every word back up at him, their eyes crazy-wide.

Tell Your Heart Heads Up gives Meany a chance to show his musical chops with a jazzy Roland keyboard solo, and Sun Ray gets a rock makeover, which suits the live setting well. Bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas shines as he takes centre stage for a while, his fingers flying across the strings, and Todd Gummerman provides a framework with his impressive ethereal guitar. The bass-driven instrumental Obsolete is superb, and towards the end Meany, Mitchell-Cardenas and drummer Darren King set a frenetic pace as they all smash various drum bits and pieces, producing a gleeful wild racket. Their versatility as a group cannot be denied, as they change pace entirely with You Are Mine – pure downbeat dreamy loveliness.

Not content to simply play their latest, they head back to the beginning with Control from their 2004 EP Reset, and then to some new material. This is possibly the most interesting part of the show, as Meany introduces a new song that had its beginning during a rough jam in Perth, adding with some hope that it will be done by the time they reach Sydney – their attempt at writing a new song while they’re here in Australia. It does lack the punch and tautness of their current songs, which is perhaps an unfair comparison for a work in progress, but it is followed by the tight rock brilliance of Chaos from their self-titled first full-length album in 2006. By contrast, another new song, Where We Once Were, features the same driving rhythm and trademark soaring vocals as their previous works, with more electronica undertones, and this song resonates better with the crowd.

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