After the very successful release of 2015’s Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra has garnered quite a following. The subsequent Sex & Food was released this year to favorable reviews. Most tracks on a UMO album are the kind that can only exist as part of a studio production. Clever production tricks and electronics come together to create songs that seem impossible to recreate in a live setting. However, any doubts were quickly dispelled as the band took the stage at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, Texas on July 13 to a near-capacity crowd. Tight drumming, booming synth and bass, and funky jam guitar were combined to both recreate and reinvent seemingly impossible songs from the New Zealand/Portland-based rock band.
Though the majority of the set list featured material from their most recent, soul filled album, favorites from the previous three releases made appearances as well. In defiance of the expectation of opening with a new song, UMO instead opened with “From the Sun” before launching into “Ffunny Ffriends”, the first single from UMO’s debut self-titled album. Interestingly, the entire first half of the set only contained one song, “Ministry of Alienation”, from Sex & Love, while the latter half of the show was heavy on new material. New tracks like “American Guilt” and “Not in Love We’re Just High” found many fans singing along. One of the highlights of the night came when Ruban Nielson jammed out the punky “Nerve Damage!” from his self-titled debut. After a very short encore break, the band returned to the stage and played the soulful and funky “Honeybee” before closing the night with “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”.
The night saw Nielson playing in the crowd and the energy of the band kept the fans entertained the entire time. Having four albums under their belt now, UMO has a larger catalogue of solid songs to pick from. Though they did pick a mostly impressive set of songs for this tour, it was a bit disappointing that they didn’t choose to play a longer set. Though the set itself seemed a little short, at less than an hour and a half, the energy that radiated from the stage was contagious and the eclectic crowd of hippies, hipsters, college kids and metal heads danced along to unique sounds that Unknown Mortal Orchestra are so great at producing.