Tài hǎo le! [太好了! Awesome!] Split Works are bringing Unknown Mortal Orchestra to China next month as they kick off the Asian leg of their colossal ‘II’ tour.
Seems like just yesterday they were playing at good ol’ Bodega, but January has long since past for this hardworking, hard touring three-piece psychedelic-pop powerhouse, who have played packed out shows back in NZ and Australia, as well as in the UK, Europe and the US this year. Feeling lazy yet?
New Zealand frontman Ruban Nielson, who now calls Portland home, started the band in 2010 by anonymously uploading a track on Bandcamp, later claiming responsibility and promptly touring the shit out of it, a story which has been told and retold around the digital campfire ever since, destined to be part of DIY rock folklore for generations of bloggers, bands and music fans to come. Three years on, UMO have released a self-titled EP (2010) and album (2011), the crunchy psychedelic pop record ‘II‘ (2013), the nifty little acoustic EP ‘Blue Record’ (2013), cranked out a bunch of bootlegs and ceaselessly toured around the globe, forging an adoring fan base from Lisbon to LA; and of course, back in Aotearoa.
The first time I saw Ruban play was with his former band the Mint Chicks back in 2006, using my sister’s +18 card to sneak into San Fran and mosh with the big kids. It was an absolutely unforgettable gig, a violent assault on the senses; a spastic, demonic, schizophrenic display of chaos. The band opened by tear gassing the audience, lead singer Kody Nielson kicked a dude in the teeth and hung upside-down screaming with the microphone shoved in his mouth. It was like they smacked us in the face, put us in a jar which they’d shat in and shook it till our brains had turned to porridge. It was amazing.
However in 2013, it is safe to say Ruban has established a new identity, breaking away from being ‘that dude from the Mint Chicks,’ honing his songwriting and vocal talent alongside bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare. UMO have made waves with critics and fans throughout their short existence, with the band winning Independent Music New Zealand’s Taite Music Prize last year and ‘II‘ taking home the Best Alternative Album award at the New Zealand Music Awards in November.
The boys played alongside Portland-natives the Dandy Warhols for their final show of the year last week and will recharge the batteries and tinker with the pedalboards before jetting over to play Yuyintang in Shanghai on Wednesday 15th January and MAO Livehouse in Beijing on Thursday 16th January. UMO will then grace the stage at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Auckland on Monday 27th January, before heading across the ditch and back to the US.
“Isolation can put a gun your hand,” sings Nielson on the track ‘From the Sun,’ and when some of our favourite international acts don’t quite make it the extra few hours down to NZ on their world tours, this is when our geographical isolation down in the Pacific truly sucks. Next month, it seems touring China’s east coast cities before flying down to NZ is a neat circuit for others too, with British electronic headliner James Blake also set to play in Shanghai before heading to Auckland for Laneway. We like it!
So get your Ffunny Ffriends together and feel the warm fuzzy Fender vibes, spidery guitar riffs and lonely vocal filters in Shanghai, Beijing and/or Auckland.
Wednesday 15th January @ Yuyintang | Shanghai 851 Kaixuan Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu, Chang Ning District, Shanghai Starts at 9pm Tickets: 100RMB / 60RMB (students)
Thursday 16th January @ MAO Livehouse | Beijing 111 Gulou Dong Dajie, Gulou, Dongcheng District, Beijing 东城区鼓楼东大街111号 Doors: 20:30 The Big Wave: 20:40-21:05 UMO: 21:35 Tickets: 100RMB / 60RMB (students)
Both China shows are tagged with #UMOCN.
Monday 27th January @ Laneway Festival | Auckland Silo Park, Auckland Tickets: NZ$139.50 including booking fee
Follow Ruban’s Instagram here @unknownmortalorchestra
Turn your brain inside-out with this spacey Arabian sound cluster like an alien slowly marching away into a cosmic abyss; UMO’s Christmas Bandcamp release titled ‘SB-01.’
Nice to see they have sussed a Douban.