Math The Band, The Trunk Space, 12/03/12

Math the Band @ Trunk Space|11/3/12
Imagine if that goofy indie rock cred of The Shins and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, the "Napoleon Dynamites" of music, hadn't lost so much popularity and had instead evolved, embracing the EDM subculture with sentimental Millenial generation video game samples and more energy than twelve Redbull vodkas. That's Math The Band for you, the realization of a nerdy, indie dream and one helluva live act.

See also: How Many Times Has Math the Band's Kevin Steinhauser Puked Onstage? More Than You'd Think.

They came close to leveling The Trunk Space last night with their free and easy lyrics and spastic energy, perfect for a generation hooked on Adderall and nostalgic for Super Nintendo, an audience like me. But before I tell you that story, let me tell you this story:

Summer 2010 was pretty weird for me. I was unemployed and between college semesters, so I could hardly afford Taco Bell, let alone immersing myself in the local music scene. But I got lucky and the one show I saw all summer was one of the best in my young life. My friends were going to MC Chris at the now-defunct Clubhouse and I could afford to join them because I spontaneously painted someone's ceiling for $10 bucks. Yay!

I went with two friends and Math The Band opened (Aha! The point of this story!) and we were the only three dancing because I dunno, other people are lame. They preferred to cross their arms while listening to a guy rap about Star Wars instead of nearly cause themselves an aneurysm spasming in place. Because that's what Math The Band made me do that night (nearly break my collarbone headbanging) and that show has had a profound effect on me ever since.

So it goes without saying, I was really looking forward to this show. I wanted to relive that moment two and a half years ago and see what had changed and what hadn't.

Treasure Mammal opened, doing so many elaborate, semi-erotic interpretations and dance moves that I can't cover all of it. Let's leave some of it to legend then, but here were a few highlights: they brought their trademark dancing Santa Claus mannequin and made it sing for a number of songs, they did hilarious covers of Celine Dion and dedicated Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back" to Twinkies, they have a song about Shake Weights and passed them out to the crowd and Claire Slattery learned the ASL version of this song and performed it in a purple morph suit and all of this pretty much blew my mind.

Then, Math The Band ripped open their set with "Hang Out / Hang Ten" and the audience, already invigorated by Treasure Mammal and Rough Tough Dynamite, instantly went into this frenzy, screaming along with the catchy chorus: "Everyone have fun tonight!" A perfect intro, 'cuz I'm pretty sure that everyone did just that.

The energy in the room expanded more and more with each song. As the band executed a track featured in their newest music video, "Brand New Physics," it drove the crowd off the edge. I've never seen such an energetic audience in Phoenix, minus something like a hardcore punk show, with everyone dancing in place or holding onto one another or stinking like glorious sweat. It was loony bin fun. For "I Hope You Die," Justine bounced around, head bobbing shoulder to shoulder with a manic grin on her face, screaming the chorus: "I hope you die!" Over and over and over. It would have been incredibly disturbing if the entire crowd, including myself, wasn't doing the exact thing back.

The duo joked that they could play "Hey Alright," but not well, and later, took a few requests, including a hyperactive rendition of "Haircut." The band had the same energy, if not more, from 2010. Guitarist Kevin Steinhauser still does that thing with his guitar, where he steps in and out of the strap like a jump rope and then blasts into ear-splitting riffs with so much distortion that it's impossible to hear melody or rhythm, let alone lyrics. But when this happens, it feels fucking awesome.

It's nice to know that some bands never stop being true to themselves. Not sure how else to say that without sounding mushy, but it's true for Math The Band, and as far as I know, the other acts that were there that night. Most of all, I'm glad there are audiences in Phoenix that really appreciate this stuff.

Thanks for keeping it real, guys.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Math The Band, Treasure Mammal, Dogbreth and Rough Tough Dynamite at The Trunk Space.

The Crowd: Geeks, nerds, losers, you know. People cool enough to not worry about looking cool.

Overheard: "You'll all hook up tonight and tomorrow, you'll all get abortions together," and "You're all about to get butt-raped, but it's OK -- We brought lube!" I'll just let you guess which band said this.

Personal Bias: Isn't it obvious?

Best Dressed: Well, Treasure Mammal, obviously, but one of the dudes was not wearing underwear in his morph suit and a certain male organ was very prominent and this made me sad because I could not not notice, you know? :( Extra credit: Here's a photo of the band in 2010, because I don't know what else to do with this photo and also, you can measure beard growth and stuff and clearly see how dead the audience was.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah