Unknown Mortal Orchestra bridges the gap between stage and crowd at Union Transfer

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

Unknown Mortal Orchestra brought an energetic and intimate performance to a packed house at Union Transfer this past Saturday night. Their set included an eclectic mix of their discography with throwbacks like “FFunny FFriends”, “So Good At Being In Trouble”, favorites off of their 2015 album Multi-Love, and new tracks off their most recent album Sex & Food such as “American Guilt,” “Hunnybee”, and “Not In Love We’re Just High”.

The New Zealand four piece is touring with members including frontman Ruban Neilson, Ruban’s brother Kody Nielson (who played his sixth show to date in Philadelphia), and long-time bassist Jake Portrait. UMO is in the midst of a North American tour in support of Sex & Food; since its release in April of 2018, it was questioned how the band would work a crowd, given their new, more mellow and reflective songs, which shifts lanes from the pysch-pop, dance-y, disco-influenced tracks on previous album, Multi-Love, that won listeners hearts. Opener Makeness, a London-based electronic outfit, was fitting for UMO given it’s heavy-bass beats and entrancing, heady qualities, which compliments their new material on Sex & Food.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

UMO kicked off their set with their most notable track, “FFunny FFriends,” which won the audience over instantly. It was apparent from the start that their set wouldn’t simply be a run through of new material. The band took a more honest approach to their vocals, without using much effects, which contrasted their distinct filtered vocals typically heard on previous recordings and during performances.

During “From The Sun,” lead Nielson stepped into the crowd and played a long venue walk-through guitar solo. Nielson played to individual members of the audience, as if he was serenading them with his heavenly psych sounds. He appeared on the main floor with his guitar, and minutes later reappeared on the second floor mezzanine, until he made his way back to the stage. Ruban surprised the crowd for a second visit during “Major League Chemicals,” this time without his guitar, and mic-in-hand, and sung together with fans for the entirety of the song.

The band continued switching off between old and new songs, like “Necessary Evil” and “Internet of Love.” Interestingly, the band played a rendition of their well known song, “So Good At Being In Trouble” in an unfamiliar key. The encore brought the most energized side of the night out, which ended with “Everyone Acts Crazy Sometimes,” and led into “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” one of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s most pop charged tracks, resulting in one big dance party that ended the night ceremoniously.

Setlist
Ffunny Ffriends
Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)
Necessary Evil
From The Sun
Ministry of Alienation
The Internet of Love (That Way)
So Good at Being in Trouble
Nerve Damage
Major League Chemicals
American Guilt
Not in Love We’re Just High
Multi-Love

Chronos Feasts on His Children
If You’re Going to Break Yourself
Hunnybee
Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays
Can’t Keep Checking My Phone

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