Unknown Mortal Orchestra brings the psychedelia

Unknown Mortal Orchestra's quirky and intriguing sound makes for an amazing live show.

Last Saturday, I attended a sold out show at the Rickshaw Theatre headlined by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO). The group is a rock band from Portland, Oregon composed of Ruban Nielson, Jake Portrait, and Riley Geare. 

The show began with Lower Dens — an American indie pop band. Lead singer Jana Hunter’s voice was an incredible stand out. She showed off her unique tone, versatility, and power. During an acoustic solo, her vocals were flawless. Lower Dens delivered an easygoing performance that opened up the show on a fun note. 

The waiting period between Lower Dens and UMO was a little longer than I would have preferred, but the energy of the room did not diminish. An interesting thing about the atmosphere was its intimacy despite the spaciousness of the Rickshaw.

Much like their name suggests, UMO’s music heavily features instruments. The group balances instruments and technology to produce a quirky and intriguing sound. Their live performance was no different. From the first song, the instrumentals gave a surge of energy to the room. The guitar and piano solos were very lovely moments.

Unlike Lower Dens’ performance — where Jana’s voice played a starring role — Ruban Nielson’s voice served as a part of the instruments being used. Despite there being moments when Ruban’s voice could not be heard clearly, his performance reflected the spirit of rock music — at one point, he climbed atop a speaker.

As I danced along with the crowd on the sticky floors of the theatre, I realized the show referred to the psychedelic experience visually. The lights and LED speakers moved along to the beat of the music, changing colours frequently.

UMO’s performance was consistently entertaining. It was no surprise that the audience called for an encore.

The group needed no extra stage production or choreography. Their music was more than enough to keep an audience engaged.