John Maus and Mist Fail to Deliver at ’Sco

Gabriel Kanengiser, Staff Writer

Music that isn’t aurally pleasing or conceptually innovative can nevertheless be of value when derived from inspiration. Inspired music is responsive and has depth, and inspiring music makes the audience share its feelings — or at the very least recognize them. Mist was unsuccessful on both counts.

Professor, composer, and philosopher John Maus took the stage after Mist and promptly demonstrated the unique aspects of theatrics and music that have made him a mini-sensation; he has collaborated with Ariel Pink and Panda Bear in the past, which explains the synth-pop feel to his beats. After playing several tracks off his new album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, it became clear that Maus’s set was not completely successful either. There were moments of stunning musical phrases that displayed his compositional skills and illustrious song writing. Sadly, these were few and far between. What is more, many of his most skillful moments were drowned out because the audio mix was so poorly balanced.

His music seemed fairly “karaoke-style,” which brings up the real issue with Maus’s music. In recordings, the man does things that are remarkable — haunting and pleasing, experimental and mainstream — but in concert, those aspects can be lost, and they certainly were last Thursday evening.

But the performance did not falter. By the end of the show, there were 15 or 20 jubilant students dancing onstage with Maus. Visibly buzzing with the excitement of the music, Maus was clearly successful in creating and performing inspiring music for its audience.

It is the conceptually intriguing aspects of Maus’ compositions — the electrifying interludes, intense vocal passion, and experimental pop sound — that can summon up a crowd so easily. But it’s hard to forget the jarring karaoke aspect of the music and look past comparisons to his recorded works, which, needless to say, are of much higher quality than his performance at Oberlin.