Friday night at Irving Plaza felt like nothing short of a victory lap. Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been on a marathon of sorts in support of their latest album Multi-Love. You may remember me lauding their success last summer in a long and detailed account of a night out with the band. Coincidentally, the band had just played their last show and we stared into our tea leaves (read: whiskey gingers) thinking about what the future held.
I can’t recall what we postulated, but ending their tour in New York with two sold out nights at Irving Plaza seemed like a fitting result. After a powerful opening set from Lower Dens, the stage lights lowered to a familiar purple hue as the eager crowd squealed. Before the familiar shadow on stage could grab his guitar, the crowd welcomed our favorite Kiwi with a raucous “Happy Birthday” song.
With pleasantries out of the way, UMO began what would become an electrifyingly familiar set. Familiar in the sense that I believe they played the same set last time I saw them. Electrifying in the sense that it seemed like a completely different band. To borrow from a b-side song of theirs, the entire band — especially Ruban — exuded “Waves of Confidence.” The transitions between floating verses and ripping solos were seamless and powerful. Every member had their moment — Riley during “How Can U Luv Me,” Quincy during “Ffunny Ffriends,” and Jake basically ripping it all the time. One of my favorite things the band does is ensure that a soloing member gets undivided attention by all taking a knee — much like sports teams to to pay respect to their coach.
This go ’round Coach Ruban has orchestrated (pun intended) a freakin’ solid band that continues to amaze its fans both new and old. They changed things up during their encore by having two special guests on the trumpet & sax for “Necessary Evil” and “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.” Almost everyone I spoke to came with friends that had been recently initiated — and everyone left still bobbing their heads with a little pep in their step.
So once again UMO, a job well done, a tour well played, and a rest well-deserved. Missed these guys somehow? No worries, they’ll be back on the road again later this year. Until then boys…
Night 1 Setlist
From the Sun
How Can You Luv Me
Ur Life One Night
The World is Crowded
So Good At Being In Trouble
Sime and Sleep (Like A Shark)
Stage or Screen
Can’t Keep Checking My Phone