Friday, May 21, 2010

Mum is the Word

Just a few words about Saturday’s Múm concert at the Black Cat.

The band was in top form, enveloping the Black Cat’s main room in a sonic atmosphere inhabited by sweeping hums and subtle noises that combined to make some of the most beautiful music in the world. The six band members buzzed around the stage, each taking turns at the myriad of instruments ranging from violins and keyboards to more unconventional ones such as a saw blade and tiny porcelain bells like Aunt Hilda used to collect. They played most of the new album, two of their “big” songs and blew us away with some new jams. Watching Múm was less like watching a band than it was like watching a six-armed, Victorian age, steam-powered robot; each arm powered by gears and archaic pulleys that work with uncanny precision at pulling off impossible feats of intricate music. It’s mind-blowing to think that these six humans can recreate what they did on Saturday night every night of a tour. The Múm experience makes you feel like you are seeing something truly unique, a special one-of a kind performance that’s just for you.

For the most part that’s how the show went. But there was also the extremely annoying quality that is especially particular to Black Cat crowds; rude, inane chatter of drunk hipsters. Every show is going to have its “loud drunk guy”, who usually ruins the first few songs and then gets his ass-kicked into silence. That’s to be expected. But at the Múm show, there were a hundred of them. AND THEY WOULD NOT SHUT UP!

The main room was nearly full at the start of Múm’s set and there were literally more people talking than listening during the first half of the set. Múm are a band who use silence and tiny sounds as an integral part of their music and most of it was lost, buried under the chit-chat and laughing of all these jerks. It was particularly embarrassing when one thinks of the thousands of miles this band came to perform here, and people couldn’t even respect them enough to shut up and listen. It was like the hipsters were all there to show how cool they were for liking Múm, when really they could care less who the band was. Mercifully the posers began to filter out and the chatter died down by the middle of the set. I guess the hipsters got their cool points so it was safe for them to leave. By the end of the show, which soared into epic proportions after the jerks left, there were about 60 people remaining out of the original 150-200. I left the main room thinking that it would have been a better show had it only been the 60 true fans in there to begin with.

Originally published on July 26, 2004.

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