Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Learning Team-June 14th at the Wild Buffalo

The opening act for Unknown Mortal Orchestra was originally supposed to be Bass Drum of Death – I thought their music would have been a perfect fit and I was excited to see them open, but they unfortunately cancelled last minute. Luckily Learning Team was able to hop on the bill with short notice. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how their music would fit in with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s experimental, quasi-psychedelic style but I was nevertheless looking forward to it since I actually haven’t caught an entire set of Learning Team’s since last year. After the mini hiatus they took from live performances this winter to work on writing and recording I was pleasantly surprised to see how they had changed. Their set began kind of ambient sounding—not what I was expecting— and their new songs have a lot of rich depth do them. A couple older songs that they played had a new twist on them.

Although Learning Team’s performance itself was fantastic, the crowd, unfortunately, was severely lacking. The few people who were there were all sitting along the perimeter of the venue and it wasn’t until the end of their set that a small cluster of people gathered around the stage.

The most likely explanation for the low attendance that I can come up with is the fact that June 14th was the day right after finals week at Western and the night before commencement, so a good chunk of Bellingham’s population was probably out of town or recovering from a week of all-nighters.

Considering Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s growing popularity, history of selling out shows, and frequent airplay on KUGS, this low turnout was quite bewildering. I had actually bought my ticket several weeks ahead of time, anticipating that it would sell out like they did when they played in Seattle a couple months prior.

But, whatever lame excuse you had for not going, just know that you were missing out. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is one of those bands who sounds fantastic on recordings, but put on an even more intriguing performance. Compared to their live performance, the songs on their records sound like shortened, simple pop songs. They had the freedom to expand on each song, drawing out certain parts and adding solos. It was cool to have the chance to see the more experimental side of their pop songs.

My only complaint is that they didn’t play “Faded in the Morning,” but I really shouldn’t be complaining since I got to hear every other song of theirs I wanted to—something that very rarely happens. I appreciate the balance of the number of songs they played from each album.

All in all, it was a flawless performance from one of my favorite up-and-coming artists that probably won’t be playing a show this small any time soon.