Live Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver 08/05/2018
New Zealand shoe-gaze rockers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra made a stop in Vancouver for a sold-out show at the Commodore Ballroom. The spring tour is in support of their recently released album Sex & Food, released April 6th, 2018 on Jagjaguwar.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra have a very chill sound, hence why they’re often put into the shoe-gaze or lo-fi genres, and upon seeing the stage through the crowd I knew that their show would embody that perfectly. With faux fur rugs covering the drum and keys risers, a wall of (I would hope) fake plants along the back of the stage, and a record player complete with Miles Davis records UMO had fulfilled my dream of being on tour with all the comforts of my living room. The record player was left playing until their set started.
Taking the needle off of the record, they started out the set with their 2010 debut single Ffunny Ffriends, and one of the groups more upbeat tracks. Vocalist and guitarist Ruban Nielson was dressed in what I can only think of as Fancy-New-Zealand-Chic, wearing silk short shorts over compression leggings. Clearly comfortable, he was in his element grooving around the stage and taking moments to chill out in the living room set up.
About six or seven songs into the set after checking for any fellow Kiwis (hi yes me) in the crowd, and having a pleasantly surprising amount of confirming ‘whoop’s, Nielson got down into the packed crowd with his guitar and proceeded to have the most epic guitar solo around the entire venue. Stopping on a couple of the venue's bars to sit down, much to the delight of the fans and staff, he made his way back to stage after a solid 5 minutes to continue with the rest of the show.
The eighteen song long set, including five song encore, was put together almost perfectly to showcase Sex & Food in almost it’s entirety, with the entire venue seeming to already have the lyrics memorised. However, me being a constantly homesick and way too nostalgic New Zealander would have loved to have seen a couple more songs from their self-titled first album in 2011. Besides that one little gripe, it was an incredible, sweaty night of amazing music and Kiwi pride for me, and I’m sure a lot of people in the crowd.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra will be heading over to Europe mid-may for a month-long tour, and then back to the USA to hit the rest of the cities they’ve missed on this tour.
Photography and Words by Kelli Anne Lane