Mini Mansions brings its dramatic pop to Moe's Original BBQ - Reverb

Live review: Mini Mansions, Action Friend, Wire Face @ Moe’s Original BBQ

Mini Mansions came to Moe’s on Saturday night for their fifth visit to Denver, having opened up for Autolux, Minus the Bear and Them Crooked Vultures on previous occasions.

As with most bands that push musical boundaries, the Mini Mansions sound is difficult to describe. I had a chance to ask Michael Shuman, the band’s front man and former Queens of the Stone Age bassist, how he would classify the band’s sound. “Dark and dramatic pop music,” Shuman replied. “Dramedy?”

Dramedy sums it up rather well. One has only to watch the dark yet playful video for their single “Kiddie Hypnogogia” to begin to get the picture of what kind of sonic and cognitive dissonance that the band is up to.

Mini Mansions has a light and airy pop sound punctuated by dramatic outbursts of high volume and high energy musical swells. Shuman spends most of his time singing and pounding out stylistic rhythms on a simple drum kit backed by Zach Dawes on bass and Tyler Parkford on a playful keyboard. It all comes together surprisingly well in a live setting.

The band’s ongoing evolution was on full display Saturday, with a tighter and more focused set than when they opened for Them Crooked Vultures in April. The band seemed to be playing with more raw energy than some of the sugary pop coating would suggest. The result was a crowd that bought into the sound whole-heartedly, often bobbing along to the beat, dancing, and shouting encouragement to the band to continue down the sonic rabbit hole on many of the extended breakdowns.

Opening band Action Friend started the evening offering a unique and unusual sound to the mix. Leaving the NCAA football game playing on stage during their entire set, the band was a sonic assault on the senses. Often switching styles from heavy and aggressive to catchy hooks, then dissolving into complete chaos and back again within seconds, it was difficult to keep your bearings as a listener.

Wire Face brought sharp guitars, staccato vocals and a bass groove that got the crowd moving again and again. Having only formed about a year ago, the Denver/Ft. Collins band put on a compelling and cohesive set that could be compared to a more subdued version of At the Drive-In.

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Allen Klosowski is the social media strategist for The Denver Post. Check out his photos online.

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