Sold out shows are always a clear warning to show up early. With Baltimore’s Lower Dens and long time faves of ours Unknown Mortal Orchestra on the bill, a good spot was crucial. The fun didn’t start till around 9; so I watched as the venue filled up and the audience took form.
All photos by Ellie Alonzo.
Some assholes at the San Antonio tour stop stole Lower Den’s van Sunday, with only a few pieces of equipment being returned in time. Due to the circumstances they had a different set for Dallas. Jana Hunter took to the stage with only her drummer, pre recorded bass and some synthesizers. Hunter was able to bring in the front crowd with her haunting voice and shoegazing music, a perfect soundtrack for any melancholic British young adult movie set in the late 1980s. Noting she actually grew up in Arlington and bringing her cousin up on stage, who danced around with a face of glitter (I’m assuming she was celebrating Fat Tuesday), Hunter still strained to grasp the attention of the loud ass people who clearly had no idea how rude they were being.
The venue was toasty by the time UMO came onto the stage. I got butterflies in my stomach because I knew I would be in for a treat.
As a fan, I noticed Multi-Love took more of a musical focus on keyboards, beats and vocals than guitar. While at Trees you could hear lead singer and guitarist Ruban Neilson’s soul bleed out through the set, with enough funk and R&B to sound like a modern day Stevie Wonder. They played quite a grip from the recent release and the crowd was not complaining. We sang along to a few, “Like Acid Rain”, “The World is Crowded” and the title track “Multi-Love” had a beautiful fucking keyboard solo from Quincy Mcrary.
However when it came to the guitar breakdowns like at the end of “From the Sun”, his race-car-red Fender Jag Stang bled just as deep. Shrilling out through assortments of pedals, Neilson easily proves he’s a guitarist to reckon with. His talent and sound is like the love child of Hendrix, Zappa and Frisell!
Don’t worry, they played some oldies and we sang even louder. The four of them vibed out and delivered a new experience to a few: “Thought Ballune”, “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)”, “How Can You Luv Me” with a gnarly drum solo from Julien Enrlich, “So Good At Being In Trouble” with another exceptional solo from Mcracy, and yes they had the whole venue singing along to the epic live version of “FFunny FFriends”.
I’m surprised I didn’t cry y’all, seriously.
The best hour of my life finally came to a close, UMO thanked the audience and walked off stage. I was satisfied. I saw the show from five different angles, sang damn near every song and was ready to dream about the musical trip I took that night. Literally two minutes later, the band come back out, took a swig of water and strapped up for two more songs!
The chords for “Necessary Evil” fill the air and I was glued to a spot by the DJ booth. My heart melted, again. After playing one of my favorite tracks off Multi-Love, they spun right into the party jam of the night “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”. I swear I felt like I was in Beauty Bar on a Thursday night when DJ Sober would hit us with some infectious banger that had every soul groovin’. I’m still vibing off the good energy from this show.
Check their site to see if they’re coming to a city near you. It’s worth your time and money.