A little over a year and a half ago, I was living in Bristol, England and I saw Tiny Moving Parts play a mid-week gig for a couple hundred people in a venue that was only about two-thirds full, but they played with an intensity that would have made you think it was the most important gig of their careers.
Flash forward to their set in Williamsburg, less than a month after the release of Swell, their 6th studio album, and I discovered that the performance I saw across the pond was the band performing with about half the intensity they were capable of.
Complete with stage dives, costumes changes, caution tape and a joint performance with the light hearted, punk stoner group Mom Jean, the emo, math rockers from Minnesota have an exhaustingly frenetic pace that left them dowsed in sweat after the first five minutes of their set.
Tracks from their earlier albums, like Celebrate and This Couch is Long & Full of Friendship, squeal and crunch with finger tapping guitar and a youthful angst that’s accentuated by the soft-loud talk singing of lead guitarist and vocalist, Dylan Mattheisen. Although, there came a point where the intensity of the performance made the vocals more shouts than anything else.
On Swell, Tiny Moving Parts ease off of the fidgety rifts and sound more like an introspective, late era Blink 182, but without losing complexity by regressing to four chords and a chorus.
Above the stage hung a banner with the image from the album’s cover, a severed and torn up hand holding a half smoked cigarette. As a visual representation of the band’s new album and as symbol of where they are musically, it feels all to appropriate.
With half a dozen LPs and countless tours, Tiny Moving Parts sound more mature and have a new gravity and weight. On early records they sang about how ‘I think I think too much’, and now exclamations of missing old versions of themselves and the proverbial ‘you’, long for when the severed symbol on their backdrop was whole and less road weathered.
Without internal insecurity and screaming for understanding, Tiny Moving Parts would still be great live musicians, but for now, they might be one of the only bands that can portray and earnest seriousness while having fun with their emo roots.