Live Review: Mute Math

Mute Math keyboardist and lead vocalist Paul Meany relishes the live stage. The bright lights, the energy of the crowd, the goose bumps – they’re all an integral part of what Meany calls “getting into that zone.” That ineffable moment when everything makes sense and only the music matters.

At the very least, Mute Math’s show Friday night at Patriot Center (George Mason University) was a taste of what that zone feels like. Opening for Matchbox Twenty on their current winter tour, the band has been constrained to 30-minute, expedited sets. “The tour has been good exposure for us,” Meany said in an interview with The Hatchet. “You’re playing in front of a crowd that basically could care less that you’re there, so you really try to feed off each other. By the end of the show, hopefully you’ve made an impression on (the audience).”

For those unfamiliar with Mute Math’s sound, they are part of the recent upsurge of piano-driven post-rockers. One should hesitate to compare them to Coldplay, only because they’re slightly less poppy and more compelling. Meany’s vocals are undeniably Sting-esque, as can be heard on “Typical,” the first single off their 2006 self-titled debut LP.

The band thrives in their live performance, and Friday night was no exception. Playing only a four-song set in front of an audience craving a late-90s nostalgia trip (both Alanis Morissette and Matchbox Twenty would follow,) Mute Math provided a stark contrast that was both much-needed and well-received. “Each show varies from night to night,” Meany said. “Right now, ‘Break The Same’ is a song that we really enjoy playing. Lots of energy gets unleashed, and we just have a lot of fun with it.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mute Math’s show was the sheer amount of exuberance. Each song began forcefully and maintained that high level of energy all the way through to the end. There were no wasted moments, no self-promoting solos – just powerful music.

At the heart of the performance were Meany’s over-the-top stage antics, which revealed a complete lack of concern for the well being of his keyboard. At one point, Meany did a sort of handstand on top of his instrument, slamming his body into the keys on the way back down. Perhaps taking a liking for the sound these acrobatics produced, Meany proceeded to do it three more times.

Of course, it takes more than just antics and energy to put on a good live performance – it takes a certain level of talent, too. And while none of the band members are extraordinarily talented, all are very capable musicians. Drummer Darren King is particularly impressive, as many of the band’s songs rely on multi-layered rhythms and timely crescendos – both of which King handles skillfully. Meany’s voice sounds fantastic live and really matches the band’s arena rock approach.

As for the band’s future, Mute Math is currently writing their sophomore album under Warner Bros. Records. Now that the band has tasted success, their biggest adjustment has been dealing with the expectations and time constraints of record label executives.

“We’ve got to take our time. We’re a band that thrives on having time, and we’re not putting out a record if it’s not ready,” Meany said. “Right now we’re writing songs every chance we get, and we definitely hope to have a new record out this year.”

In the meantime, those interested in hearing Mute Math’s live show can download their live album, “Flesh and Bones Electric Fun” (Warner Bros.) which was released on iTunes on Jan. 28.

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