“We have a lovely show planned for you tonight,” said MUTEMATH frontman Paul Meany awkwardly into the microphone at the House of Blues in Boston on March 7. Meany and the rest of the band appeared to be nervous early on, and their first few songs sounded stiff. However, the band started to communicate with the audience and each other, and the energy level escalated throughout until the raucous encore, “Typical.” By the end of the night, MUTEMATH had ignited an initially listless crowd and asserted its expertise in fusing blues into earth-tone alternative rock.
MUTEMATH arrived on stage impeccably polite and well dressed. Set up in a horizontal line, they mostly just stared ahead into the audience for the first few songs. The rendition of the band’s latest single, “Blood Pressure,” was a very tight if perfunctory version of the recording. The band rushed through several more songs from the album with little direction, and the crowd became a little restless, openingly having conversations with each other over the music.
Towards the end of the first hour, however, the band members made a more conscious effort to use the space and interact with each other. Bassist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas dropped his instrument to bang furiously on a bass drum. Later, all four members of the band clustered around the drum set, whacking away at its various pieces. Meany got up on his organ several times to do handstands and flips, and guitarist Todd Gummerman, not to be outdone, climbed up as well and leaped triumphantly on a drum break.
The musical fervor and chemistry of MUTEMATH guaranteed that the band’s theatrics weren’t empty showmanship. On “All Or Nothing,” Meany’s falsetto soared over a U2-esque groove with ringing guitar notes and a pounding bass. And at the end, “Typical” looked and sounded exactly how an encore is supposed to. The song began with a huge guitar riff and turned into a huge sing-along; at just the right places, confetti shot into the air. Afterwards, the band members came to the very front of the stage to shake the hands of clamoring audience members. The band’s stiffness had given way to a warm intimacy. MUTEMATH may have used many typical gimmicks to ignite the crowd, but the show ended up being undeniably energetic and refreshing.