Contest Winner’s Report-Back from Müm!

So, a week ago, we sent bLA contest winner Oren Hadar to see Müm at the Orpheum. I like to hear back from our winners, so here’s his take on what happens when a bunch of woozy, arty, precious-but-charming Icelandic musicians crash-land in the beaux-arts district of Downtown.

mumband.jpgGo, on, Oren:

Thanks again for the tickets to the Múm show. I missed the openers, but it was worth it just to see the main event. I was curious to see how Múm would fare in the Orpheum, a place whose opulence can easily upstage a contemplative band like them. But if anything it seemed to inspire them – they mentioned several times how happy they were to play in such a beautiful theater, and the music they played was gorgeous enough to fill the space
quite nicely.

So this is Múm – all the shy kids from the neighborhood kept their childhood toys, noisemakers and musical instruments, but they never really learned to play them – they just liked to make sounds with them…

So the bass player makes his groove by pulling the cable in and out of the jack in his guitar. The drummer bangs on what looks like a bunch of dog food dishes on a box, and when one of the dishes falls onto the floor, he shrugs and starts banging on the box itself. (This drummer also made good use of a grogger – Purim in Iceland?) They have a keyboard player, but he doesn’t play any of the complicated parts – those come from the laptop. He plays really simple melody lines, along with the melodica player, the tiny guitar player, the violin player, the other melodica player, and the singers – just like the Pogues, or a too-big bluegrass band, there are always lots of people playing the same melody line. It’s as if they started as a trio, and one by one they recruited their friends who were not very good on their instruments, so they said, “don’t worry, we like you, you’re nice, just play along with the melody”.

They also dance around like a bunch of introverted little Bjorks, which is cute.

There were times when the music threatened to develop into an actual, you know, song, with just one singer and some accompanying instruments, and maybe I’d actually start listening to what she was saying, but before long three or four other people started playing or singing the same melody, the notes got longer, and the lyric was consumed by the collective drone. As if the band was soothing the singer – you don’t have to stick out, it’s okay, we’re all dorks here. I personally was disappointed when the more spare, direct moments didn’t last, but I get why.

Best cultural moment of the show:

Audience member: “Iceland forever!!”
Bass player: “You nationalist!”

Can you imagine ANY American artist saying such a thing on stage?

Thanks again, and all the best,