By Lauren Rubin
A wave of sweaty bodies packed in tighter and tighter towards the front of the main room in Eclectic as soon as they spotted three nerds. No, this wasn’t Hipsters v. the Tech. The Mathematicians were about to headline for the annual Jamnesty charity event. Sporting horribly large-rimmed glasses and polyester plaid suits, knee-high socks and shorts just a tad too short for comfort, the three band mates are complete dorks… and damn sexy for it!
The energy was pulsating throughout the room. One (left to be anonymous) student and self-proclaimed “non-dancer” actually flung himself about and shouted, “the Mathematicians are playing… I just can’t believe it!” But it’s not just the wallflowers or boogie club that are drawn to this band that, according to their MySpace site, is influenced by “trinomials, fractions, etc.”
Like most three-person bands, you’ve got Pete Pythagoras on bass Albert Gorithim IV on drums, and Dewi Decimal on keyboard. But with Albert also taking charge of the sampler and Dewi on the vocoder, which – for your edification – is a brilliant instrument that filters voice and other noise frequencies to produce awesome sounds, the Mathematicians have an electronic vibe that adds merit to their off-beat image. Their concoction of unusual noises and rapidly pulsing tempos mark the high-energy style (think an all-male combination of Architecture in Helsinki plus Solvent, but better).
When the band finally went on, the crowd went crazy. Arms thrashed, legs kicked, and mouths shouted along with the lyrics. As if a classic punk concert, a mosh formed in the center, and one kid even grabbed the mike, propelling himself into a stage-dive on a sea of hands. On the sides you had the head bobbers, the boogie kids, body wigglers, and people just grabbing hands and dancing erratically. With most of the set performed in pure darkness, illuminated by the electronics of the instruments and a mini, yet admittedly respectable light show of greens, blues and reds, the whole set was one big “electrified” event. But the rush that surged through the crowd’s veins wasn’t because the Mathematicians were just some spectacle.
When Albert went wild on the synth in songs like “Binary Girl” – which sounds similar to Vapor’s “Turning Japanese”, no one could refrain from jumping along to the new wave quirkiness. Dewi, who is definitely the leader of this threesome of mad scientists, called out to the crowd throughout the show and we eagerly responded. In the lead up to “4 Eyes,” he even claimed that Pete kept screwing-up the song in recent performances, and how if it was an exam he’d fail: but rest assured, we’d all do great on our finals and we should just dance to the song. And boy, did we ever!
As the song started, Pete and Dewi busted out with insanely clever rhymes like “Who cares if your suit clashes/We’re no dance floor fascists/There’s floor for four on the X-Y axis/ Free your mind and wipe your eye glasses” and thus proving themselves to be rap stars and carefree geniuses. Their raps also had the bite of transgressive comedy, like in Weapons of Math Instruction, off of their yet-to-be released album “Level II”. If the crowd could speak as an entity it would have said “F**K YES”!
Sure alcohol and a cocktail of other “influences” added to the vibe. A drunk girl next to me actually told me that Dewi was “way too cute” and followed through with this thought by pinching his butt (at which point he turned around in a kind of shocked stupor… clearly he didn’t get the “sine”). But the true intoxication comes from the fast tempo, crazy electronic sounds, and pure dedication of the band (Dewi played the keyboards so fervently that towards the end his fingers were bleeding). And when the power board went out on the second to last song, “E=2MC’s” and the crowd started chanting, “fight the power,” the Mathematicians didn’t pull any Ashley Simpson ho-down crud… they just kept on going.
Combining electronics with new wave with rap, spitting out hilarious lyrics about Math while also hinting at supporting worthy causes, or –most of all- by satiating our needs to just let loose and dance crazily, the Mathematicians create a formula for success. In a time where indie-electronic is the new pop and it’s not enough to just have an image and crazy instruments, these three 20-somethings are refreshingly rare.
all pictures in this article were taken by the writer, Laura Rubin