Sunday, May 1, 2016

Concert Review: Mutoid Man @ Underground Arts - Philadelphia, PA 04/27/16

I'm a pretty unhip guy. I make it a point not to look too deep into an artist I respect. I've done this in the past and I will do it again but only if there's something I can gain insight to or synthesize somehow. There has to be something undeniable.  Enter Mutoid Man.

Photo by Fran Chismar

Stephan Brodsky has an incredible catalog of work. The volume is impressive. 33 records since 1997 [Cave In, Kid Kilowatt, Converge, New Idea Society, Pet Genius, a solo catalog, Zozobra (though I'm not positive if he's on the recordings) and now Mutoid Man]. This is a guy who is in a constant flow of writing, recording, or performing live.  If you look at the time line of releases there's up to 3 releases or at least some kind of collaboration every year. The kick in the head is that it's all high quality material. That fire is stoked constantly!!! I wanted some insight into that. This seemed like powerful information that we should all take with us day to day.

When I heard Mutoid Man was coming to Philly I was hoping I'd have a chance to ask the man himself. Off stage, Brodsky is fairly unassuming.  He's happy to stand around the merch table joking with band members, concert goers, or even the bartenders. I noticed that no one was hanging around him for terribly long periods of time. They would talk and both parties would separate with a smile. Really easy interactions. I decided to hit up Brodsky myself. I asked him about his output and creative process. I'll do my best to paraphrase the short conversation. I can't quote him because I didn't take notes or record. As far as his writing process and creative energy goes he regards it as something to keep trained. You should never let it go slack.  It is all about work ethic and keeping in touch with the creative flow.  It was very simply put! I also wanted to know if he sometimes has to force some of the process.  "Of course!!!" he replied and went on a bit about how he's always happy to hammer on what's required. He seems like a genuinely happy guy with a good attitude. I have to be honest, I expected a pretty hyper active guy. My impression after our talk was just the opposite. He didn't seem overly chill nor was he Hamlet. He seemed mentally flexible and probably has a hell of a capacity for focus. All told, it was maybe a 7 minute long conversation. A simple interaction and a simple insight. Stephen joked, "make me sound smarter than I am" when we ended the conversation. Here's the thing to take away, Brodsky doesn't make a big deal of his creative process, massive library or compartmentalizing what's Cave In material or Mutoid Man material. His creativity is as natural as breathing or waking up in the morning. I don't need to make this guy seem intelligent, he is!

Bardus opened the show for the night. I've never heard them before. I really liked what I heard. Throbbing cerebral rhythm section and metallic textural guitar.

Photo by Fran Chismar

The vocals were mainly screaming.  To be fair the sound was not the high quality I've experienced previously at Underground Arts. I'll be looking into these guys.

Photo by Fran Chismar

Hound followed. They had their hair in their faces, big stoner biker rock riffs and a killer drummer. You'll dig it if your into the Monster Magnet, Clutch, and MC5 type guitar work.

Photo by Fran Chismar

I'm over simplifying here because again, the sound sucked. They're a solid 3 piece which in my book makes them very cool.

Photo by Fran Chismar

It was time for Brodsky and Mutoid Man to finally hit the stage. It was here I decided to move to the back hoping the sound would improve. Also prompting this decision was the Sound City bass rig and The Sun stack. I know these relics to be GOD DAMN LOUD!!!

Photo by Fran Chismar

They kicked off the set with a warped record sounding Purple Rain ride out. I wasn't expecting that. It was fucking awesome!  The combination of slackened, down tuned guitar strings and the volume made the whole room veer and swim. After that, the gloves where off and Mutoid Man BLAZED into their material.

Photo by Fran Chismar

If any of you are familiar with Converge (hey you! hip reader!!! There maybe some readers not aware of the power of KOLLER) Ben Koller is a rhythm animal. It has to be a hell of a conversation that goes down when Brodsky brings in a riff like Deadlock and has Koller breath into it. It takes a special mind to write songs like this.

Photo by Fran Chismar

Cave In was(?) complex and gave an expanse for their songs to grow upon. Sounds pretentious, I know, but if you're a Cave In fan you know what I mean. Its what I think U2 could've been if they hadn't cashed in. MM songs are usually in the 2-3 minute territory. The complexity is condensed and more progy. If Cave In is like It Bites then Mutoid Man is like Gong (check those guys out).

Photo by Fran Chismar

I'm happy to say all the kinetic power and precision in Mutiod Man's recordings are intact on stage . MM is definitely a vehicle were Brodsky can be funny. Faces and hand gestures that punctuate the musics' rhythm changes to the parody of arena rock front man. He's an entertaining guy.

Even the terrible sound couldn't put a damper on this set. The set was high energy, fun, and tight! It was a really great show from Brodsky and company. This is not a set that could be phoned in if the night isn't going as expected. This level of energy is genuine and can only be produced by people of the same quality. I salute you Mutoid Men! Next up they're off to Canada with the mighty Baroness.

Keep the windows down and your eyes on the horizon!


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