By Andrew Bansal
(photos by Matt Nielson)
July 10th 2017, The Resident, Los Angeles CA: In 2017, planet earth is deeply fond of nostalgia, specially in the realm of music. More and more music lovers are not only seeking out age-old albums but listening to them on vinyl and cassettes. Very seldom does new music get listeners universally and unanimously excited. Enter Brooklyn, New York rock/metal/mathcore power trio Mutoid Man, with their second full-length ‘War Moans’, which does just that. The band, featuring Steve Brodsky (Cave In), Ben Koller (Converge) and Nick Cageao, released the album in June 2017 and embarked on a North American tour with Sargent House label mates Helms Alee. ‘War Moans’ has blown away anyone and everyone who has taken the time to listen to it, and this Mutoid Man tour has been an eagerly anticipated one everywhere across North America. On the second leg of the tour, the band arrived in Los Angeles for a gig at the Resident last Monday, and took no prisoners in putting on one of the most insanely entertaining live shows one would ever get to witness.
Located in the Arts District of downtown LA (just a fancy name for Skid Row), The Resident was a venue and setting completely new to most attendees last night, the bands included. The 200-capacity room seemed apt for a show of this magnitude, even though tickets were sold out well in advance and many Mutoid Man fans were left high and dry as they perhaps did not anticipate this predicament. The indoor concert area has a bar, but is also attached to an outdoor space with a separate bar and a food truck. Even though the house music between sets wasmore than a little odd and out of place, The Resident came across as a cozy hangout spot and a refreshing new venue to attend a concert in.
Doors opened at 8 PM, and at 8:30, Mustard Gas and Roses took the stage as the only opening act of the show. Led by ex-Isis guitarist Michael Gallagher and also featuring J Bennett (Ides Of Gemini, Black Mare), the quartet played a 30-minute set with all six songs coming from their latest release, the 2016 full-length ‘Becoming’. This post-metal/ambient rock group certainly excels at painting sonic landscapes and creating a vibe that befits every show they partake in. They’ve opened for national touring acts at venues like El Rey and Complex in the recent past and have been gigging quite actively (with a West Coast tour supporting Junius to come in September). Here at the Resident, they sounded as powerful as ever and held this crowd’s undivided attention with a captivating set. It is not difficult to get in the headspace MGR intends to take its audience to, and for that reason they’ll continue to be a band worth experiencing live.
Mustard Gas and Roses photos:
Shortly after, Helms Alee hit the stage, and brought forth a multi-faceted set that went through several variations over the course of its 45-minute duration, transitioning from mellow to violent and melodic to crushing and everything in between, the vocal harmonies being the standout feature of the band’s musicianship. This trio from the Pacific North West has earned themselves quite the fan base in the LA area owing to fine performances on past tours, and their fans were here in good numbers at this show. Choosing to play in minimal stage lighting, Helms Lee allowed their sound to be the primary focus for the audience, and delivered a set that was just the perfect companion and complement to what Mutoid Man followed with. Anyone attending these shows is getting treated to long sets by two very disparate bands, and the impact Mutoid Man makes can be attributed in part to the tone set by Helms Alee.
Helms Alee photos:
Promptly at 10:30, Mutoid Man appeared on stage and tore it to shreds with a next-level, otherworldly performance that exceeded expectations that were already sky-high. They played as many as 6 songs off of ‘War Moans’, as they should have, and no one would have really complained had they chosen to play the entire album, such is the extent to which it has captured the imagination of one and all. But of course, they threw in some of the older material, and they chose well because these tunes blended perfectly with the new songs. But that wasn’t all, and the set also presented a highly enjoyable rendition of an Animals song, and snippets of Motörhead, Led Zeppelin and Pantera songs. The trio’s unmatchable musical talent was exhibited in full, and besides proving himself to be a fantastic musician, vocalist/guitarist Steve Brodsky undoubtedly stamped his authority as one of the most entertaining frontmen in the business. His band mates also joined in the fun and banter at opportune moments, keeping the vibe light-hearted and the crowd smiling. This has to be one of the funniest, happiest shows you’d get to experience, even though there is really no shortage of heaviness, intensity and serious musical ability.
With the stage barely 6 inches off the ground, a majority of the crowd packed in closer to be able to see the band. This setting was not ideal for a mosh pit, but with the kind of fast, scorching musical passages emanating from the stage, there was bound to be at least one guy who wanted to start a pit, and there sure was. It was near impossible to stand still for this band, and soon enough, many others partook in the moshing. The band fed off of this energy to raise their level even further. The songs off of ‘War Moans’ made for some standout moments, and it was heartening to note that Mutoid Man included the ballad-like closing track on the album, ‘Bandages’, in the set list, as it presented a variation in pace and flavor, and coming in at an ideal time, gave the crowd a much-needed second wind for the remainder of the show.
There are still some great songs on ‘War Moans’ that the band couldn’t fit in the set, but the show is already insane as it is. Mutoid Man played for less than an hour, but the length of their set seemed apt for its unbridled speed and intensity, and the crowd was already exhausted by the time the band eventually walked off stage. By packing in so much power in such a short time, Mutoid Man re-established the notion that quality always supersedes quantity.
This review must end now because despite the best efforts of this writer, no amount of words can sufficiently describe or do justice to the magnitude of awesomeness Mutoid Man brings to the stage, and it simply needs to be experienced firsthand. On this Mutoid Monday, Los Angeles had its mind melted.
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Mutoid Man photos:
Mutoid Man + Helms Alee remaining tour dates:
07/11/2017 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Constellation Room
07/12/2017 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
07/13/2017 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
07/14/2017 – Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
07/15/2017 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
07/16/2017 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Loun