Photographer: Tim Ferguson

Fanzine primed the crowd with a pleasantly mid-90s throwback, with a set that instantly recalled the joys of college radio in a time when people made and bought actual fanzines. Most of the songs were cut from the same cloth as REM or Jimmy Eat World, but the band is young, and all the ingredients are there to create something exciting in the future.

When Unknown Mortal Orchestra took the stage, the crowd was ready for them. The band proceeded to rock through songs from their recent eponymous release. The band never missed an opportunity for heroic guitar solos, made all the more impressive by the fact that the band has only three performers.


When the band played 'Ffunny Ffriends', the closest they have yet to a hit, the crowd went wild, fueled by lead singer Ruben Nielson’s impressive guitar abilities. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this is not a band that’s suited for intimate basement settings, such as the Lexington. Unknown Mortal Orchestra needs to be experienced in an arena, letting their psychedelic twists wash over an enormous crowd and transporting them in a way the Grateful Dead once transported their own followers, but now with killer beats. Which is not to say that their talent was wasted at the Lexington, but that their sound is bigger than the sum of the parts, with one exception.


There’s one problem that seems to consistently haunt their live shows: just as in the record, the vocal mix was far too low. The special microphone used by Nielson made the vocals muddy at best, and incomprehensible at worst, which is a real shame given the strength of the melodies and the songwriting. Near the stage, the vocals were completely drowned out by the guitars. In the back of the room, the volume was right, but it sounded like Nielson was singing underwater.


But all things considered, that’s a minor problem for a band that oozes talent and professionalism. With a healthy amount of buzz on both sides of the Atlantic, the band will start playing bigger and bigger shows, and as that happens, they’ll iron out the kinks.