It has been 5 long years since I had last seen New Zealand psychedelic rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra perform live. They were a new-to-me band and they performed at the now defunct Media Club in Vancouver – some photos.
Since then, the band has grown into a psychedelic mainstay, known for their intense live shows and mind melting music.
On Tuesday, they took over the famous Commodore Ballroom, performing before a sold-out house.
I was in awe of their musicianship. They worked cohesively to build these walls of soul-piercing tones, topped with droaning-type vocals that carried powerful lyrics to ears of the true believers.
Band lead, Ruban Nielson, is a powerhouse of a performer. He strives to make their shows interactive, venturing out into the crowd to break down the usual crowd-space-stage barrier. He brings the music to the people and it makes everything thing feel more personal and intimate.
At one point, he had worked his way up to the top balcony at the venue, working through a near ten-minute guitar solo while the audience congregated around him and stood in awe.
UMO has come a long way since I first saw them back in 2013. They have matured into their skin. They looked comfortable and polished and confident.
For most of the show on Tuesday night, I stood there and watched them deliver goosebump-inducing harmonies, spine-tingling tones, and understated yet bombastic beats. It was more than psych, it was a therapeutic exploration of what can be created without the confines of a box, and it was beautiful.
I left the venue satiated from the event.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is on a whole other level, I can’t wait to see what they do next.