By Caleb Fox, Heather Gunn, and Michelle Guthrie
Edmonton favourites Mother Mother returned to the Shaw Conference Centre on Thursday, Mar. 16 in support of their new album No Culture. Electronic duo Beach Season and alternative hip hop artist K. Flay tagged along for the ride, creating a show that, while energetic, felt lacking in a few places.
The concert opened with electronic duo Beach Season, who barely registered a pulse. The duo’s entire 17-minute set sounded like music you’d hear playing in a small club basement on a weeknight, consisting of bland songs that were so indistinguishable, they may as well have been one song played over and over again.
Photo By: Michelle Guthrie
The band also suffered from a horrible technical set-up which rendered lead singer Sam Avant’s vocals mostly inaudible. The crowd couldn’t hear the lyrics, much less what he said between songs, making the already boring set even less lively.
Avant rocked the Dan Smith-like hairstyle, but not the vocals to match. During their second last song, some audience members murmured, “they should be playing an EDM show, not Mother Mother,” and “I can’t even understand the notes the guy is playing on guitar.” It was a boring start to what was expected to be a lively show.
The second opener K. Flay, who you probably know from that one overplayed song on the radio, “Blood in the Cut,” seemed to suffer from some form of memory loss. She told the crowd how excited she was to be in Edmonton for the first time, somehow unaware that she was here only two years ago opening for AWOLNATION at Union Hall. Enthuse music editor Michelle Guthrie was not only there, but has the setlist to prove it. It made for a very unflattering contrast with the headliner’s expression of love towards the reception Edmontonians show them every time they roll into town.
Embarrassing gaffs aside, K. Flay did manage to put on a much better set than the first act. Her unique and raspy voice (which the audience could actually hear this time around) made for a memorable and entertaining listen. The highlight of her performance came near the end of her time onstage, when she displayed some excellent rapping on the powerful song “Another Round.”
A recurring note throughout the performance was a strange guitar riff that sounded like an annoying dolphin. The first time it was played it was just weird, but as it continued to be used repeatedly, it became gratingly unlistenable. It may be the worst guitar riff heard in recent music, and ever playing it again should be made illegal. Fortunately, it stopped near the end of the set, and audiences were left with a solid performance from K. Flay.
Photo by: Caleb Fox
This past February, Vancouver indie rockers Mother Mother released No Culture, which very well may be their best album to date. It’s one of those rare projects that provides an excellent listen from front to back, and doesn’t contain any songs that need skipping. However, the band themselves seem much less interested in it; their 16-song set featured only a measly five tracks off the new record. With less than a third of the show devoted to new material, the performance leaned far too heavily on old hits, and seemed to demonstrate a lack of confidence in the fantastic new album. Songs that seem destined for an arena, such as “Back in School,” were skipped over, and slower tracks showcasing fantastic songwriting like “Everything is Happening” and “Mouth of the Devil” were similarly ignored. Even the titular (and excellent) “No Culture” went unplayed—a bizarre exclusion since the band is literally on The No Culture Tour.
It’s not that the old songs in Mother Mother’s catalogue are bad; fans were delighted to hear classics such as “Monkey Tree,” and “The Stand.” And the band played through the night with all of the energy and liveliness for which their concerts are known, remaining gracious and thankful for the love Edmonton has shown the group over the course of their career. However, coming off the heels of such a strong release, the lack of new music was an unexpected disappointment.
Though Mother Mother undoubtedly knows how to entertain a crowd and put on a great show, lacklustre openers and a poorly conceived setlist prevented the Edmonton stop of The No Culture Tour from being a memorable experience. Had the band cut the forgettable first opening act and devoted more time to the incredible album they’re actually supporting on tour, they could have really made a night to remember.
(Feature Photo by: Heather Gunn)