Review: Math the Band, Lima Research Society

Middle East Upstairs, January 5, 2009
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  January 12, 2009

MATH THE BAND: What if Rainbow Brite and her friends had a meth habit and started a band?

Math the Band suck greasy elephant balls, I was told by a source. Turns out this source is stupid, or maybe he saw MTB on an off night. Those of the whimsically modernistic, could-be-from-Baltimore-but-aren't denomination to which MTB and Lima Research Society belong occasionally let their eccentricity get the better of them. On a good night, like this one, it gets the better of everyone else.

I was also led to believe that Math the Band, Boston's self-proclaimed premier Andrew W.K. cover outfit, is Kevin Steinhauser with a laptop. This has been true, but a week ago Monday we got a duo: Steinhauser on guitar and shouting and Justine Mainville on synthesizer, vocoder vox, and a floor tom. If they continue to emit this abundance of noise and raw energy, they'll doom themselves to a career plagued with reviews describing them as "hyper-kinetic," "frenetic," "manic," and other words that end with the letter "c." Unless they undergo an ill-advised radical change in direction, their velocious electroklash will keep getting likened to "what Rainbow Brite and her friends would sound like if they developed a meth habit and started a band." Mainville announced she was getting dizzy toward the set's end, which was graciously well before the Red Line shut down for the evening.

Earlier, New Jersey's Lima Research Society glowed with purple ambiance. I had never before seen anyone glow on a Monday. This spectacle required 15 black lights suspended behind the trio like giant ominous eyeballs, and all-white stage attire that included a lion's mane donned by the guitarist. Their tastefully screwball, endearingly optimistic Flaming Lips–ish routine wasn't as blatantly electronic as Math the Band's, since their drum tracks sounded quite like a regular drum kit. Juice boxes were distributed during a song that recounted the tale of a suicide attempt prevented via juice box. For a finale, the ectomorphic, trebly frontman (conveniently named Lima) waved a flag that read, "DON'T GIVE UP, DON'T GET DOWN," promulgating the chant-along chorus that urged us to "March Against the Mutants."

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