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The Scarlet & Black

UMO rocks a weekday

This Wednesday, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and opener Night Moves brought a wall of sound to Gardner Lounge.

Some might remember Night Moves from last year when they opened for Oberhofer in January. They are based out of Minneapolis, MN and will be making a tour to the east coast in October.

Night Moves blends a driving dancing beat with melodic folky guitar and delightful vocals. They have an eclectic group of influences ranging from The Beach Boys to the Flaming Lips to Prince and Fleetwood Mac. They opened the night with a swooning ballad called “County Lady,” and the crowd swayed and bobbed their heads as they got into the band’s down to earth groove.

John Pelant, Mark Ritsema, Micky Alfano and Josh Evert comprise Night Moves. Unfortunately, they were unable to travel with their drummer and used a drum machine instead. The three present members graced the stage with disheveled curly hair and button-up jean shirts, playing Gibson guitars, a Fender bass and a bright red keyboard. By the end of their set the crowd was dancing and shouting their appreciation.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra has rapidly gained notoriety since they formed in 2010. They broke into the scene with their first single “Ffunny Ffriends,” a blaring ode about loving friends despite their faults. They’re signed on the up-and-coming Fat Possum label.

UMO describes their music as “alien beatnik pop music that echoed 60s psychedelia and krautrock minimalism with just a hint of gentle weirdness.” They have a lo-fi sound which rides on their strong rhythm section. The lyrics add a reverb-y frosting to their gritty guitar-ridden cake.

Indeed it is hard to pin down the influences of UMO. Pitchfork lauds their first album stating, “There’s still something eerily extraterrestrial about their debut LP, as if it were something that fell from the sky completely intact.”

The band is spearheaded by Ruban Nielson, a New Zealand native who recently moved to Portland, Oregon. Nielson’s guitar riffs are joined by Julien Ehrich on drums and Jake Portrait who produces and plays bass.

Neilson ripped through guitar solos and harmonized verses as the crowd danced with hair and arms flying everywhere. Both his vocals and guitar were squeezed through numerous effects giving the show a grungy vibe with some jarring notes of feedback.

The crowd screamed in favor of “Jello and Juggernauts,” which had a swinging classic guitar melody and a call and response format between the guitars and the lyrics. They continued the set with a 60s inspired “Boy Witch” which reminisced Dick Dale surfer rock.

After the band played their last song the crowd wasn’t done with them and yelled for more. UMO played a moody encore with a plodding bass line and high-pitched wails from Neilson’s guitar as he chanted “Hey You! You’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing.” The crowd responded with an impromptu mosh pit, officially making this Wednesday night concert just as wild and crazy as any weekend show.

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