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19 Nov 09 New Orleans Group Rocks It in North Texas

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Texas Music Journal is constantly striving to bring stories from all forms of music, from all parts of the state. We are excited to announce that we have begun partnering with various colleges and universities in Texas, to provide entertainment coverage. The following story is from Bianca Montes, a student at Richland Community College in Dallas. The story also appears in the Richland Chronicle.)

New Orleans-based rock band MuteMath took the stage Oct. 29 at The Dallas Palladium Ballroom.



Since the band was formed in 2003, MuteMath, whose cool, calm and flowing style ranges from alternative rock to experimental pop, has been toying with their brand of music. Many thoughts passed my mind as I watched the show such as; Oh my God and Wow: however it is hard to find words that describe the charisma of MuteMath.

As I sat behind my camera, it was hard for me to imagine the feelings the audience gets. There was so much going on during the performance, that by the time I left the photographer’s pit I was exhausted.

The Palladium was filled with blue, yellow and green lights that flashed across the stage. Everyone was lit up in psychedelic coloring and the vibe in the air was ripe. Watching MuteMath is almost like watching four live performances feeding off each other’s creativity. The energy of the band-mates blends perfectly into one amazing show.

While MuteMath has strong ties to New Orleans, bassist Roy Cardenas had his start in Houston, Texas and later moved to McAllen, Texas with his family. He is most known for his work in MuteMath, but he also has strong ties to working as a session bassist for the last ten years.

The highlight of the show for me was the percussionist, Darren King. I do not have a thing in the world that I can compare him to, but I want you to picture this guy. Every single beat of the songs MuteMath played were complimented by the true raw styling of King. With his headphones duct taped to his head, symbols flying and water splashing from his drum set, I almost forgot there was anyone else in the room.



Weeks ago when I sat down with Grammy-nominated King for a phone interview, I would never have imaged that this, well spoken drummer from Missouri, would be the wildebeast that I saw at The Palladium Ballroom. Sure, I had heard the rumors about his wild-child antics on stage, and even addressed them in our interview, but somehow I was flabbergasted once I saw him in person.

When asked about his roaring onstage persona, King quoted an old Elliot Smith interview in regard to why his music was so quiet. According to King, Smith responded that, “When you grow up with screaming in your house, the last thing you want is screaming in your work, in your music, in your art,” King explained his styling as, “I think that I have the exact opposite to blame. I have a very quiet, simple Marshfield, Missouri, safe, comfortable, cozy, imaginary friend’s childhood. I get a little carried away whenever it comes time to play a show. I get excited.”

Excited does not seem to entirely grasp what happens when he and the drums become one on stage. King is the sort of drummer that could make the deaf take notice of his startling performance. What more could one expect from a guy who coined “Monster from the Muppets, The King of Crazy Drummers.”

One of the band’s biggest successes is their song “Typical.” The music video for “Typical,” which made its way to the New York Post Hit list, after premiering on YouTube in March of 2007, features the band performing the song backwards. The song features an alternative-styled guitar part accompanied by a similar drum set. These features are mixed with an almost techno-sounding piano and bell section.

The vocals on the song fit perfectly with the very eclectic instrumentation and composition of the track. Lyrically, the song is wonderfully timed with the music flowing well from verse to chorus. The song begs to ask the question, how long does one have to wait, work and suffer before they can be someone and accomplish all they want? The verses allude to the speaker’s life and all he has been through while declaring that something of “another level” is out there. With the urgency of the lyrics blending into a perfect marriage with the music this song is anything but typical.

Another huge success for MuteMath is their song “Spotlight” which was featured in the box office smash, “Twilight.” The song is fast-paced and driving in comparison to “Typical.” The music is punctuated with an amazing cymbal beat that drives through the song while being accompanied by a steady, bass and drum part. These three instruments set the tone and pace for the entire piece. The song fit perfectly with the story of “Twilight,” which makes perfect sense. Stephenie Meyer, author, called MuteMath her muse while she wrote her three-book saga. When asked if MuteMath was interested in scoring more music for “Twilight,” King said, “I don’t think that would be smart on their part to work with the same bands each time. I don’t think it would be smart on our part, either, because we could become the Twilight band.”

Overall, the experience of watching MuteMath exceeded anything that I expected. This band is a must see and a truly unique experience.

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