New band from Portland takes on headlining tour, including two stops in New York City.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra launched into their first song at Glasslands June 8 with an extended jam for the introduction of “Little Blu House”. It set the tone for the rest of the night as Ruban Nielson was often shaking his hand out between songs from all the exhausting work. Nielson’s vocals were thickly embedded among the other instruments, but it was his guitar that really sang. Clad in black with a gold medallion necklace, Neilson allowed embellishments to his indie music project now on the road. With Julien Erlich in charge of the beat on drums and Jake Portrait holding down the bottom on bass (both also contributed with background vocals), the trio traded smiles by the second song “Thought Ballune” when the venue became packed with fans. They had played Mercury Lounge in Manhattan the night before heading over to Brooklyn for a sold out show at Glasslands Gallery.
The group played most of the songs off their self-titled debut, released a year ago last June. Beyond a few thank yous, Neilson kept his band on a tight leash as one song dissolved into another. Highlights included psychedelic soul of “How Can You Luv Me”, the slow instrumental jam of “Cyrus' Theme” and the virtuosic guitar intro of the thrashing “Nerve Damage!”. They also threw in an upbeat new tune, "Swim and Sleep," with a strong percussive backbone and echoing vocals. The crowd seemed to know what would be saved for last: the quirky and catchy bandcamp hit, “Ffunny Ffriends”. As heads bobbed throughout the room, the band kicked things up a level to match the amped up energy of their audience.