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Unknown Mortal Orchestra Brings New Zealand Psych Rock to MN

UMO
UMO

In support of their latest release, Sex & Food, Unknown Metal Orchestra (UMO) packed the main room at First Avenue on Friday night. (Insert awful Quarto de Mayo joke here). They started their set with the unmistakable drum beat that kicks off the opening track, “Ffunny Ffriends,” of their self-titled album. I was ready to see a band I have been following and wanting to see live for years.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

You know you’re in for a unique experience when the lights come up and you see a stage dressed with white shag rugs, fake succulents, and interesting furniture complete with a turntable and a hard copy of You’re Under Arrest by Miles Davis.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

The set wasn’t the only thing that was dressed to impress. Lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Ruban Nielson brought his best boxing shorts with a tiger on them. Yeah, it was that kind of a show. Because they are that kind of band.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

Looks aside, this was one of the most engaging shows I’ve seen in quite a long time. UMO kept my interest throughout the entire night and played everything I wanted to hear from across all four of their albums, including “Nerve Damage,” “Multi-Love,” “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark),” “So Good At Being in Trouble,” to name only a few.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

Although I assume no one celebrates Cinco De Mayo down under, that didn’t stop the band from indulging in a tray of mid-set shots. Although I noticed a significant amount of black X’s on hands in the crowd around me, I felt encouraged to join in with the fun. So I did just that.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

The amount of liquor that may or may not have been consumed by the band (and the crowd) certainly didn’t affect the performance. At one point,  after introducing their drummer and his brother for the 3rd or 4th time, Nielson did mention he was feeling a bit drunk before playing what he called a ‘Hawaiian’ sounding tune. What great siblings you are! Your parents should be proud.

Photo by Christian Spraungel

Early May is certainly a great time to be in the Twin Cities, and I’m happy I got to spend a night with a band as great as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and that they could be in our lovely city during such a beautiful weekend. Until next time guys!

Photo by Christian Spraungel
Photo by Christian Spraungel

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