Last Friday night saw a few of your trusty Music Ninjas catch up with two of our favorite So-Cal groups; Carousel (whom we had the pleasure of interviewing a few months ago; read it here) opening for Mansions on the Moon. Our evening with the laid-back dance-pop gurus was booked at perhaps the most intimate and acoustically appealing live venue in Denver, the Larimer Lounge, and marked the last date as opening tour support for MotM. This was most likely the last time to catch the boys live before they once again lock themselves inside their gorgeous studio for the next few months to record material for another upcoming EP; and let’s just say we were absolutely ecstatic to be a part of such a wonderfully paired show.

Armed with an army of trusty synthesizers, MIDI controllers, Kevin Friedman’s incendiary electric guitar and Jackson Phillips’ angelic but masculine vocals, Carousel took to the stage opening with one of their many viral hits “Know It’s Right”, and a collective crowd feeling began to set in, telling us that we were auspicious witnesses to two extraordinary musicians doing what they love and do best. It was actually a little difficult not to be consumed with a perma-smile from their happy dance sounds as they flitted between their slew of Hype Machine dominating singles including “Let’s Go Home”, “Where Have You Gone”, “Stay Awake” and a few gems from one of 2011’s most noteworthy debuts, the 26 Allston EP, aptly named for their address while attending the coveted Berklee School of Music. While this was our second time catching them live in Denver, we would like to think of this last gig as their real introduction to our music scene as there were almost triple the amount of listeners in attendance this time around, and most of them weren’t  as shy to twerk their proverbial stuff a little more freely either. Throughout such an entrancing, emotionally charged set, it also became easy to forget, when my eyes would drift away from the stage, that only two people were creating these sounds, rather than an entire backing band. But that endowment is part of the reason they remain one of our favorite bands here at TMN. Closing out the set was a toast to the crowd as the boys, who at this point were drenched in performance perspiration, downed a few shots of tequila and then perfectly crafted a brooding cover of Robyn’s anthem “Dancing On My Own” which featured full audience participation in belting out the chorus. There is just something strangely satisfying about seeing a good-looking male pair croon the lyric “I’m not the girl you’re taking home” and we’re pretty sure they have figured that out at this point as well. Carousel once again captured our hearts and imaginations in just over an hour, whilst setting the stage for the down-tempo, ambient pop-rock of fellow Californians Mansions on the Moon.

There is a reason why Mansions on the Moon’s melodic, but experimental sound has been championed by the likes of the world’s biggest taste-makers including Diplo, Benzi, Wiz Khalifa, and Mac Miller. They even had their last EP Lightyears guest-produced by none other than recent Daft Punk collaborator, and the enigmatic sex-symbol to many a hipster girl (or boy), Pharrell Williams. Well, we were privy to that reason as MotM played out to a captivated and packed out room Friday night. Sporting a complete band, including their now patented tambourine wielded by front-man Ted Wendler, Mansions dove right into their set from what seemed like the house’s background music, playing a contagious version of their stab at a  pop-song “Radio”.  Lightyears’ material seemed to be the focal point of their concert, but we were also blessed with some unreleased tracks sprinkled into the mix. I think it was safe to say that most in attendance were there for Mansions, and they proved why there is so much clout behind them with a radiant two hours of live music. The four-piece may have only been together for two years now, but their on stage synergy is undeniable. Displaying clever arrangements and a wide range of music knowledge may be the biggest factor at play in forging their widespread acceptance from so many walks of the music industry, which has captured for them a solid and diverse fan base from the most critical of listeners to the most casual of Hype Machine users.

Much of our staff encounters at least two shows per week, and hardly any of them merit enough to deserve a full-fledged event review, but that is what Mansions on the Moon and Carousel did to our collective psyche on Friday night. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out both bands using the links below and stream a few of our favorite tracks, “Radio” by Mansions on the Moon and “Another Day”  from Carousel while you’re at it. Keep it Ninja.

’Another Day’
’Mansions on the Moon “Radio”‘
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Mansions on the Moon