From Iceland — Known Unknowns: Mortal Orchestra Part I

Known Unknowns: Mortal Orchestra Part I

Published November 12, 2014

Chris D'Alessandro
Photo by
Matthew Eisman

Unknown Mortal Orchestra can go ahead and change their name to Known Mortal Orchestra now, because their off-venue gig at the Straumur showcase in Bíó Paradís was filled to the tits of mightily receptive listeners. I’m sure you all made your way over to the queue at Harpa Norðurljós to catch them.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra are one of those brazen bands that are at times so minimalistic the live show can show some of the blemishes of a missing note, stuttering on a fill, or lapsing on the vocals, but it’s this organic quality to the sound that adds to the set in an endearing way, rather than serve as a negative component. After all, they are just a mortal orchestra, not a robot orchestra, so slight little hiccups in a chord aren’t anything to scoff and scowl at. There was some seriously creamy complexity abound in the air, and it was all pleasure centres.

I hope I’m not stepping on any toes by saying the bread and butter of that set was the drumming and how potent the banging of those skins was, the dude was like Ginger Baker out there, doing some jazz drum duel type shit with those wooden beaters. That drum solo he had was definitely the highlight of the show and I’m surprised girls weren’t writing their numbers on paper airplanes and throwing it at him after that… I gave him my number, it’s 666.

Their set was given a wide berth man, playing for over an hour, which I think could have been trimmed down a song or two, leave us wanting more, give us blue balls not concert back and taco neck – which are all common side-effects from standing in place for too long while some dude with hot-dog breath is looming over you trying to make you hungry… Fuck man, stop breathing on me, your breath vapor is disgustingly delicious, and I’ve already eaten six hotdogs today.

I spoke with the drummer, Riley Geare, at the Flaming Lips show and the short exchange went like this:

Chris: Duuuude, you killed it this year (side hug), you’re like Ginger Baker out there!

Riley: Ahh thanks man, I hope I’m not as much of an asshole as Ginger Baker though, have you seen that documentary with him?

Chris: “Beware of Ginger Baker”? Yeah, dudes nuttier than squirrel shit.

* We ranted over the influence Ginger Baker has had on rock music *

Chris: That drum solo you had at the off-venue had people creaming. Seriously girls were looking at you starry eyed… How many numbers did you get?

Riley: *chuckle* Shit man, none. I don’t get any numbers.

Chris: Well fuck, you could feel the admiration in the air, it was sweet.

Riley: Yeah, it was cool, I felt like I was playing for the people right beside me!

Chris: Fuckin’ right man, enjoy the Flaming Lips show!

Riley: Yeah man, you too!

That’s pretty much as verbatim as one can get during a drunken Airwaves conversation.

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