By Erin Coulehan, Contributor, DC Music Live
If one thing can be said about German electronic duo Mouse on Mars, it’s that the music – and by extension its members – are resilient, literally. After a potentially catastrophic collapse of a table housing laptops, synthesizers and myriad chords and wires on stage hours before Mouse on Mars’ show at U Street Music Hall on March 5, the situation was reduced from a debacle to a mere kerfuffle and the show went on.
Made up of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma, Mouse on Mars created a quirky and ambient electronic experience for an eager crowd with an equally impressive video show projected on a large screen. The crowd swarmed the dance floor while bouncing and bopping to the experimental sounds while others stood transfixed at the images on the screen; giddy children enthralled at a carnival.
The electronic veterans have been making music since 1993, and put out their first album, Parastrophics, in six years last February before making up for lost time and releasing WOW at the end of last year.
While on stage at U Street Music Hall, St. Werner and Toma experimented with their own sounds amidst the flurry of entangled wires and equipment like a couple of mad scientists, remixing their own tracks and manipulating their voices thanks to a vocal treatment device which twists basic utterances into futuristic-sounding cadences when spoken into.
Mouse on Mars seemed to genuinely enjoy being on stage, and properly engaged with the crowd which is often a difficult feat when one can be easily distracted by a computer screen. Many of the songs were playful with cartoony bleeps and silly toots; a sly wink at the listeners who understand the duo’s musical sense of humor.
“Chordblocker, Cinnamon Toasted,” set the tone for the evening with heavy hip hop beats, leading directly into “Baku Hipster.” It would have been easy for the set and its visually complex video display to be hyper-stimulating, or at times maniacal, but the duo celebrating their twentieth year as Mouse on Mars delivered each song with aplomb.
By the end of the hour-long set, St. Werner and Toma thanked the crowd warmly before leaving the stage. The crowd lingered for a moment while waiting out a potential encore, but eventually dispersed. Comments of “dude, that was AWESOME,” could be heard as show-goers made their ways back into the night.