Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Los Angeles May 11th show was more than just music, it was an experience to behold. With the use of mostly their own unique lighting rig hooked up to beautiful setpieces, the entirety of the show was anything but ordinary.
The stage began pink, with thin light flowing upwards as if beneath a water surface. The band files out with a slight pause and Ruban Nielson walks onstage and quietly grabs his workshopped Fender Jagstang (fiesta red of course). His hands move and the playful “Ffunny Ffriends” riff begins. The band is off and it feels like hearing them for the first time, the sonic crunches from Nielson’s guitar accompanied by his idiosyncratic vocals and the remaining members of the band (in which his brother played drums and provided from harmony). Their set continued with “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” and “Necessary Evil.” Both songs were filled with the pink nostalgia of Ruban’s past works as the audience sang along to the choruses. Then “From the Sun” came on and the energy of the band went through the roof. As they finished the song, Nielson went into a guitar solo frenzy, letting his fingers leave an incendiary path along the wood of the fretboard.
The show continued and began to feature more tracks from their newer record Sex & Food. One beautiful performance came from the intimate yet groovy soft purple lights and music of “The Internet of Love (That Way).” The lights created a calming violet silhouette of the band, which only added emotion to the already romantic rendition of the song. As they all played in a perfect messy sync, it almost felt as if they were playing for the legendary Prince’s memory (though I know it has been a while, so I doubt that’s the case). The show flew by as the band and the audience buzzed with energy, singing and dancing along. So much so that we were at the last song of the setlist. The instantly recognizable electric piano riff plays and everyone joins in as Nielson sings away to one of the singles off his last album of the same name “Multi-Love.”
As soon as the party starts it ends and the band walks off stage. All instruments were left on stage and Nielson’s guitar was left to buzz and the lights remained a bright pink. Around ten minutes go by and, as is the standard now, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, little by little, come back on for their encore. At first Just Ruban and his brother join the stage and sing “Chronos Feasts On His Children” together. The rest of the band comes on and they begin again. In total the encore was a whopping five songs and each was just as amazing as the last and the next. They ended with their funkier “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” as rainbow lights blazed across the stage and crowd, briefly showing moments of playing of the band and dancing of the audience. The song briefly ended, but it seemed Ruban was keen on playing and, so, he continued on the riff of the above-mentioned song. Soon the band joined in again and the audience went wild as they played through the chorus once more.
- Ffunny Ffriends
- Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)
- Necessary Evil
- From the Sun
- Ministry of Alienation
- The Internet of Love (That Way)
- So Good At Being in Trouble
- Nerve Damage!
- A God Called Hubris
- Major League Chemicals
- American Guilt
- Not in Love We’re Just High
- Chronos Feasts on His Children
- If You’re Going to Break Yourself
- Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays
- Can’t Keep Checking My Phone