Distortion, St. John's NL, April 23

Photo: Noah Bender

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Apr 24, 2015

Count the number of things going on at any point in Mauno's set and you might be surprised to hear there are only three members.

The Halifax trio established a groove right away at Distortion, with an interlocking set of drums, bass and guitar that sounded like so much more. Each of the instrumentalists are crucial: Nick Everett's songs are winding and lovely, punctuated by the erratic pulse of Eliza Niemi's creative, dynamic bass lines and, especially, the innovative drum work of Evan Matthews. These aren't easy songs to drum to — driving at times, wonky at others — but Matthews anticipates and defines the moments that make Mauno's songs special. And there are a lot of them.

Everett is clearly a Dirty Projectors fan — he covered them at his earlier set — and his songwriting reflects that band's love of quiet-LOUD dynamics and interesting chord progressions. Vocally, too, there's a similarity: both Niemi and Matthews are excellent singers, adding harmony to flesh out the songs.

Near the end, Niemi and Everett swapped instruments for a particularly moody track, then introduced a sparse new song that began unassumingly and ended abruptly at the height of its noisiness.

The frequency of their breakdowns and musical digressions was high, but it only reinforced the fact: these are creative musicians with so many ideas that they barely fit into songs. Maybe it's time for an album.


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