Yesterday I capped off a great weekend by trekking out to Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro to see a band I’ve been obsessed with for a while – Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The opener, Jackson Scott, was a young, up-and-coming noisy rock act from Asheville. I had never heard of the band, and like many others at the Cradle I was in for a surprise. During their first song, I spied more than a few stunned faces in the audience – people weren’t sure what to make of the sudden assault on their ears by this trio of energetic, shaggy-haired kids. Faces obscured by their long bangs, they redefined LOUD and played the heck out of their respective instruments. Guitarist and lead singer, Jackson Scott himself, crooned indiscernibly over it all. Despite the somewhat jarring mid-song tempo changes and wealth of discordant sounds, I managed to get pretty into the music, although this is not a band I probably would have listened to otherwise.
After Jackson Scott’s angsty take on noise, we were in for a more danceable jam session in the form of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. While you may know them for their irresistibly catchy hooks and fuzzy low-fi funk beats, what you probably don’t know is that UMO are also pretty great at just jamming for the sake of jamming. I think it’s really cool when a live show delivers something distinctly different; something that you can’t get from just listening to a band’s albums (like Sam Herring’s legendary theatrics at Future Islands shows, for example), and these guys did just that. Between the crazy-intense drum solos and lead singer & guitarist Ruban Nielson experimenting with feedback on three different guitars (not even touching the strings? – mind blown), there were a lot of instrumental excursions that you won’t hear on their albums. Although the band seemed to enjoy immersing themselves and the audience in these more sprawling versions of their songs, they still supplied those unearthly, infectious tunes we were all expecting. Between discovering a new band, and hearing a familiar one play unfamiliar sounds, this was a great show – I hope to see y’all out there next time!