Saturday Night: Mission of Burma at the Independent

Categories: Last Night
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Mission of Burma, Erase Errata,
The Independent,
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

Better than: Watching your dad's high school garage band relive their glory days.

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It seems like all the original indie rock icons are on a reunion, revival, or new album tour this year: Sonic Youth, The Pixies, and Mission of Burma--the latter in support of the new release The Sound, The Speed, The Light. Known for being hit or miss live, Mission of Burma was on point Saturday night musically, playing a quick n' dirty set (one barely lasting an hour) to a half-filled Independent. If the band had shown more interest in playing live, though, the show would have been a lot more fun.

The concert was a hodgepodge of material from Mission of Burma's four albums, a performance seemingly designed more to please the fans than to show off the new record. The night started off on a high note: "Donna Sumeria" lead into "1,2,3 Partyy," but by the second song, there appeared to be sound issues. A roadie came on stage to fix the mics. Aside from the mechanical hiccup, though, the band executed its 14-song set list with speedy, surgical precision.


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But while the trio displayed the energy of musicians half their age, bassist Clint Conley and Guitarist Roger Miller looked as if they would have preferred to have been anywhere else at the moment. Meanwhile Peter Prescott appeared as if he was going to have a heart attack while drumming behind his trademark giant sneeze guard er, drum shield. It wasn't until "2wice" that anyone from Mission of Burma even addressed the crowd. (Conley noted when the song was done that it was the first time all tour they'd actually landed the ending perfectly.)

The band's bored expressions matched those of the audience, though, as many in the crowd only half clapped after songs. Fans finally began to show some interest by the time favorite "This Is Not a Photograph" was performed for the encore--but then the band promptly peaced out after it was done, leaving a few people confused about why the show wasn't longer.

Show openers Erase Errata were also on the Mission of Burma speed train. The fact that the former played a brief, 30-minute set that started precisely at 9 p.m. meant their performance went largely overlooked by many.

Overall, the evening was far too short, and ended too early, almost as if the boys from Burma had to be up early for their office jobs in the morning. The show was slightly reminiscent of The Sound, The Speed, The Light in that way, where just when you're getting into the songs, the album's over.

Editor's notebook:

Personal Bias: I was a bit bummed that Mission of Burma didn't play more songs from The Sound Speed, and Light. The songs played from that album have greater depth onstage than on the recording.

Random Detail:
The Independent crowd was an interesting mix of the usual hipsters plus older pot smokers getting down like it was 1979; specifically the older lady rocking out adjacent to me who strangely resembles my Comparative Politics professor from college. Prof. Freeman, is that you? Headbanging to Mission of Burma, really?

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