Live: MTNS @ The Workers Club – 20/2/14

Having only been together for less than a year, MTNS have certainly accomplished a lot in their short lifetime. Pronounced “Mountains”, this three-piece band from Brisbane is composed of Tom Eggert supplying vocals and guitar, Joseph Thiang on drums and samples, and Robbie Hellberg on synth and bass. They have been regulars in the live scene recently, playing plenty of support slots for acts such as Andy Bull, Tigertown, and Wolf and Cub. However, the band recently wrapped up their first national headline tour Salvage, which included a stopover at The Workers Club in Melbourne on their second last date.  Though the crowd began as sparse, it slowly built to quite an impressive, albeit quiet turnout for such a young band. The assortment of instruments seemed unusual at first, but as I later learnt from synth player Hellberg, this was because MTNS are not naturally an electronic outfit; Hellberg is a classically trained pianist, whereas Thiang and Eggert have more of a rock background. When the trio were thrown together as a band, they decided to give dreamy, indie electronic music a shot, and it’s definitely worked in their favour so far. The separate instruments really work in harmony with each other, and produce a beautiful layering of sound unique to their specific brand of music.  On the night, MTNS had a fairly basic set up, and interestingly the synth and the drum kit stood on opposite sides of the stage facing each other, rather than the audience. Because of the chilled out way the band mates interacted and laughed with each other, it felt almost as though the audience had happened to walk in on one of their practices.  The set opened with an unreleased new song, which began slow and ambient, but built up into an explosion of sound and emotion that filled the tiny Workers Club band room. This really set the scene for the rest of the act. As Eggert commented, it was “really nice to have people just listening, quietest city ever!” The music had quite a different vibe live when compared to listening to it at home. Most of MTNS’s recorded songs have an airy and ambient quality. However, when hearing the tracks live, it was very clear that they have their roots in rock.  When playing ‘Fears’, another song off the Salvage EP, Eggert really threw himself into his guitar solo, putting on a show that you’d normally see at a rock concert. This union of electronic and rock really sets MTNS apart from other live acts that are around at the moment.  Another really unique characteristic of MTNS is Eggert’s almost gender neutral vocals plus his distinctive Aussie twang. He’s quite an entertaining front man to watch – he really wears his emotions on his face and envelops himself in the music. With such emotionally driven tunes, it must be hard not to.  For their second last song, MTNS somewhat hastily introduced their debut single ‘Lost Track of Time‘. This song garnered plenty of blog love in 2013, and the crowd loved it. It can be pretty difficult to dance to this kind of music, but the audience certainly tried to anyway.   MTNS’ was a fairly short set due to their small collection of original music, and at times, the songs did tend to blend into each other. However, it was satisfying to see the band actually enjoying themselves. As intensive and melancholic as their music is, there was certainly a friendly vibe amongst the band mates. At the end of the show, they even asked the crowd to stick around and have a chat, as they wanted to get recommendations for good lunch places in Melbourne. MTNS certainly has an exciting 2014 ahead of them.   3.5 out of 5 stars Review by Jane Liang 

March 4th 2014
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