[20 March 2014]
Melt Yourself Down‘s New York City debut took place at Piano’s and though one might think six musicians on a small stage would be cramped, the tiny space was well-suited for the band’s style. MYD are not hesitant to wade into the crowd. Founder and saxophonist Pete Wareham and the saxophonist on the other side of the stage, Shabaka Hutchings were both sweating within the audience at different points throughout the band’s set. Kushal Gaya, the band’s main vocalist is the most eager (and the most unencumbered) to be a part of the audience, releasing his pent up energy within the crowd mic in hand. Like Red Baraat, MYD are an instant party, attuned to the global sound.
The London-based band only made their US-debut this month, first with shows at SXSW and then with two in NYC. The SXSW shows earned some rave reviews, including the highest praise from NPR’s Bob Boilen who had a moment of revelation. Their debut self-titled album Melt Yourself Down has eight tracks of nearly relentless global ska / jazz / funk / afrobeat fusion, with only a couple of moments that allow the listener to simmer and breathe. But their live show doesn’t give any breaks, so the band and the audience were quickly dripping . I take aim at the band’s name given that the phrase “melt yourself down” implies a passive, individual action. The reality is the band’s aggressive, passionate energy creates a collective fire. From the first spark of the saxophones, MYD’s music quickly becomes an untameable conflagration that, try as it might, sweat can’t quelch.