Death Jazz at the Hotel Utah saloon

Mute Socialite

Mute Socialite

Mute Socialite were the opening act for Death Jazz! night. They were loud and fast throughout their set. Their little kicker was the drummer laid out a guitar flat and he would utilize it as another percussion or bass line. It was a little off-putting at first because it could sound slightly screechy but when it clicked with the bass lines it added a nice effect to the song.

The lead drummer would bang everything in sight while the second drummer keyed in to his lead and reinforced the rhythm. The bass player and guitar merely wove benign soundscapes and I really wish they were a little more aggressive with their contributions. Additionally, Mute Socialite are still apparently searching for a vocalist/additional instrumentalist and I think that will have a very interesting impact on the band’s sound. If they add a trumpeter, as mentioned on their myspace page, I think their sound might get an interesting twist. I was not surprised the drummer put on a black, slightly puffy coat with an orange lining after the show. I associate those jackets with the ‘80s California punk scene and he is, in my unsubstantiated position, approaching the music from this direction. This is not to say that their sound is very punk-like, however, because they their sound is definitely fused with a lot of psychedelic ideas as well as some more angular sounds.

Overall, I liked the second half of their set better than the first. They played the first few songs without their 4th member, a second drummer (and pianist for one song), to the lineup and I thought it really settled them down. Their band leader is the primary drummer and it is definitely “his” sound. When he didn’t have to worry about setting the rhythm their sound was able to flow a little more freely. My single biggest critique has to be the difference between the sounds the drummer is putting out and the backing from the rest of the band. Some of it is appearance but I consistently felt like he was playing twice as hard as any other member.

Go-Go Fightmaster

Go-go fightmaster

I got excited when Go-Go Fightmaster brought their instruments onstage and the wind player unfurled his selections: soprano sax, tenor sax, baritone sax. They had a much more traditional jazz vision. They started out playing songs that sounded a lot more like a jazz standard and then the sax player would freak out and the rest of the bans would try to follow him into more avant-garde territory.

Go-Go Fightmaster’s technique was reasonably successful. The saxophonist was quite good and the bass player was generally there with him. The guitar player looked superfluous for several of the songs and the drummer was not terribly memorable which means he was, at the least, quite competent. From their banter and description, I don’t think they play together very often. The first few songs were slightly ragged and the musicians sometimes looked surprised. Once they got comfortable, those problems disappeared.

Overall, it was a decent middle act. I’m not convinced Go-Go Fightmaster is a full-time project and I don’t think the band is either. They have a good sound but their set is very self-similar to my untrained ear. I wouldn’t rush out to see them again but I think they are a serviceable opening set

miRthkon

miRthken

miRthkon were the headliners for the evening and the band that made the phrase “death jazz” mean something other than a New Orleans funeral procession. They are composed of: lead guitar, rhythm guitar/frontman, drummer, bass guitar, alto saxophone, and bass clarinet/alto saxophone. This band is a heavy metal bands that added some saxophone and bass clarinet backing members. I didn’t hear a lot of jazz; the guitar player was doing solos but they were metal solos. I can imagine them fitting in to the new “hipster metal” pantheon and perhaps it is only a matter of time until Pitchfork falls in love with them.

Allow me to paint a completely false explanation of miRthkon’s existence: In high school/college, a group of friends want to start a band. The problem is that one friend who wanted to be the band but all he knows how to play is the saxophone. They talk about all the options but as soon as they start playing, it becomes apparent that they really want to be a death metal band. They don’t want to kick him out because he has the best drug connections but what kind of metal band has a saxophone? One that capitalizes it’s third letter, obviously. So that’s what they do and that’s why they sound that way.

I didn’t dislike them. The wind instruments make miRthkon fuller and slightly less dark than a “true metal” band. I actually had some flashbacks to The Voodoo Glow Skulls and The Urge, darker and louder ska bands from the ‘90s. However, miRthkon kept its focus on the metal sound. I don’t know that I would rush out to buy their album but I would go see them again (max ticket price $8).

2 thoughts on “Death Jazz at the Hotel Utah saloon”

  1. This sounds a little too gimmicky for my taste. Not that I don’t like crazy bands like this but to put them all together screams high school ‘jazz fest’ or something.

    It’s also hilarious because the second act looks like your typical band geek but the opening act you’ve got the punk looking guy with no shirt.

  2. Well, the Hotel Utah does not do a lot of jazz. They do more indie and alt-country stuff. So I can see the appeal of this show. Besides, who exactly do you have open for a self-described metal/jazz group?

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