Live Video: Unknown Mortal Orchestra at SXSW

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a bit of a conundrum, at least when it comes to classifying them. Not really a “band,” UMO is really the project of Ruban Nielson, who wrote and recorded songs in his bedroom and even posted the insanely catchy “Ffunny Ffrends” first online anonymously. Not really a local group, Nielson is based in Portland, OR, though he hails originally from New Zealand. And harder to pin down yet, UMO is loosely an “indie band” but Nielson, along with bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare, blend a variety of styles and genres, layering within their winding jams, R&B inspired vocals, psychedelic guitar riffs and driving rhythmic propulsion. What is easy to identify, though, is the irrefutable appeal of the songs’ melodies and and the downright catchiness of II, the band’s aptly named second album. While we were fortunate to feature the UMO a year and a half before, at our 2011 MFNW broadcast, we were eager to see and hear just how far along Nielson’s songwriting had come. Based on Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s performance on our stage at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop during SXSW, and we can say without a doubt the band is worth the hype!

Full Performance:

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