Unknown Mortal Orchestra Théâtre Fairmount, Montreal QC, June 3

Unknown Mortal Orchestra Théâtre Fairmount, Montreal QC, June 3
Photo: Pierre Bourgault
Multi-Love being one of my early favourite albums of 2015, my anticipation leading up to their performance at the Théâtre Fairmount in Montreal was high. However, as soon as Ruban Nielson and company kicked off their set with "Like Acid Rain," it became apparent there would be one major issue plaguing the show: some of the worst sound I've ever encountered at a concert venue. I've previously aired my grievances regarding the sound system following the Fairmount's recent renovations, but it's still astounding how bad it was, rendering some of the songs unrecognizable.
Sound aside, the four-piece performed more than admirably, hamming it up and putting on a necessary spectacle. They clearly care about their performance, and dove headfirst into their psych-rock interludes, with Nielson casually taking the pulse of the crowd with a quick "You guys okay?" before introducing the band. During "How Can U Luv Me," off their self-titled debut, Nielson and bassist Jake Portrait threw themselves to the ground while drummer Riley Geare went ballistic on the extensive drum setup. Then, they segued seamlessly into "Ur Life One Night," off their most recent offering.
While UMO's sound has always been characterized by a lo-fi timbre, the subpar system pushed things a tad over the edge, blurring out some of the more interesting elements of many of their songs. There were a few moments where it somewhat enhanced the songs, especially with their earlier material, such as on "Thought Ballune."
They ended the set with Multi-Love's title track, but it took a bit of time to decipher. And just as quickly as they came on stage, they were suddenly finished. They left the stage, but came immediately back for a two-song encore of highlights "Necessary Evil" and "Can't Keep Checking My Phone." It could have been an astounding performance had they been supported with a better system, and the crowd would have probably been more involved.
Instead, they stayed largely stationary, with only a few attendees swaying along with the music. Still, these issues didn't seem to register as much with casual fans as with diehards, as a few of them were moved to purchase a vinyl copy of Multi-Love. Mission accomplished, then.