Live Review: Mutemath in Indianapolis

Although only two bands took to the stage when Mutemath’s Vitals Tour recently stopped in Indianapolis, that didn’t mean fans were forced to turn in early- quite the opposite; and Mutemath put on a show that was well worth staying up for. Fans filed in to Old National Centre’s Deluxe early to secure a good spot for the sold out show. Nashville-based Paper Route stepped on stage at 8pm to greet an eager crowd ready to kick the night off. The band started with “Love Letters,” the opening track of 2012’s album The Peace of Wild Things, which balances the moody synths with the more up-beat elements of Paper Route’s unique sound, making for a great introduction for those not already familiar with the band. The small stage was packed to the brim with equipment, and lead singer JT Daly’s synth stand was actually placed on a road case that was wheeled into the narrow pit to extend the stage a bit. The barricade for this particular show was already pretty close to the stage, but Daly’s small addition allowed for him to get even closer to fans, and he spent nearly all of his time at the edge of the road case when he wasn’t actively playing keys. For their closing song Paper Route chose “Dance on our Graves,” a somber slow-building track off 2009’s Absence. In the second part of the song Daly hopped off stage, walked around the barricade, and made his way to the center of the crowd to dance with fans as the band finished out the set. After a brief intermission the lights went down, signaling the start of mutemath’s set. The band made their way to the stage and drummer Darren King keeping with tradition and securing his headphones by wrapping his head in duct tape. The stage was pitch black, save for the light poles that lined the back of the stage that sent light beams traveling upward, moving in time with the opening notes of “Stratosphere,” off the Vitals album. This effect was powerful, making you feel as though you were drifting up from the depths of the ocean, or making some type of cosmic voyage. Vocalist Paul Meany appeared at the top of a 4 ft riser on the stage with a bright light shining behind him, further enhancing that ethereal dream-like appearance. Three-quarters of the way through “Stratosphere,” Meany made his way down to the front of the stage and stepped out on to the now-empty road case that remained in the pit. Meany’s movement on stage is exactly how you’d imagine. He has that Chris Martin (Coldplay) element to his stage presence that allows him to glide across stage so effortlessly and with such grace that you almost feel as though his feet never actually touch the ground- that he’s somehow hovering slightly above the stage. The only negative aspect to the show was the stage size. Although mutemath was working with slightly more space than Paper Route the stage still felt far too crowded for the four-piece. Bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas was stuck between Meany’s piano and King’s drumkit, leaving him with maybe 2 ft to shuffle around and guitarist Todd Gummerman often seemed cut out of the action on the far end of the stage, with no room to work around Meany’s set up. That being said, for all of the downsides that came with the small stage in Deluxe it could be argued that it was countered and made up for by the gorgeous décor in the room, creating an ambiance that fit the band’s sound like a glove and enhanced the overall experience. Meany and crew powered through a harrowing 22-song set, which, in a rare move, featured every track off their latest album Vitals. The level of confidence behind that choice is commendable, and well warranted; the new material easily held its own alongside long-time fan favorites such as “Chaos,” “Control,” “Spotlight,” and the closing song, “Typical.” In the final chorus of “Typical” Meany disappeared from stage for a few seconds as Gummerman stood atop the riser at the center of the stage, finally getting a moment in the spotlight. Meany eventually returned and a decked out inflatable mattress was tossed into the crowd. The stage in Deluxe is pretty low and the mattress was relatively thick, so it took quite a leap for Meany to clear the barricade and land atop the mattress safely. Within seconds of his landing the mattress started its journey to the back of the crowd with Meany beaming like a child on a carousel as he alternated between ‘surfing,’ singing, leaning over the edge, and standing upright to walk the ceiling with his hands. Meany returned to the stage just in time to sing the closing line of the song, which brought the night to an abrupt end. The flashing lights that had been so blinding seconds before immediately went black and Meany bid the crowd goodnight as the band exited the stage, leaving fans in a stupor after experiencing such an intense finale. These days it seems like tours often try to pile on as many acts as possible in a desperate move to get every possible person out to the show, but the Mutemath crew headed in the opposite direction with the Vitals Tour when they opted to bring a single supporting band. In doing so they proved that the end result is a work of art when the focus is on quality, not quantity. The band will spend the majority of April and May off the road before joining Twenty One Pilots on what is sure to be one of the hottest tours of the summer. -Ashley Adcox For exclusive photos of the show, click here