6/1/16 – Middle East Upstairs

The ceiling fans were spinning on high but it didn’t make any difference. It felt like 100 degrees with the humidity of a South American rainforest as a result of the sold out crowd in the Middle East’s upstairs room. The venue was packed tight this past week for Minnesotan emo/math rock trio Tiny Moving Parts, touring fresh off the release of their new LP Celebrate.

The group is composed of brothers Billy and Matthew Chevalier on the drums and bass respectively, with their cousin Dylan Mattheisen taking the role of lead vocals and guitar. Following sets from openers Free Throw and Prawn, the self-described “family band” took the stage to set up some extra accessories. Bright white floodlights faced the crowd on top of amplifiers emblazoned with hundreds of adorable dog faces. Their band’s name was lit up on a custom neon sign behind them and also scrawled across the bass drum in black sharpie.

The energy in the room was high before the set even began – the crowd loudly sang along to Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So” as it blared over the PA to fill the space between bands. Mattheisen even took a break from tuning his instrument to dramatically fake playing along to the guitar solo, eliciting cheers from the audience.

The house lights went down and the band ripped into a new track from Celebrate, “Happy Birthday.” The fans eagerly sang back every single line, piling up at the front of the stage and jumping on each other’s shoulders for the opportunity to crowd surf. Sometimes when a band tours off a new album, the fresher songs are not as well received compared to the oldies that have been out in the world for longer. That was absolutely not the case here: the crowd lost their collective minds to every new cut from album that was released just 12 days prior.  

Older tunes were also sprinkled throughout the setlist such as “Clouds Above My Head” from 2013’s This Couch Is Long & Full of Friendship. The song showcased the band’s technical prowess and math rock influences combining tempo changes, odd time signatures, and frenetic instrumentals into a wall of convoluted yet organized sound. Mattheisen and Chevalier split vocal duties, alternating lines with each other – their harsh screams and yells providing contrast to the clean and twinkly guitar tones.

Mattheisen was unable to hold back a smile as he bounced around the stage. The tone selectors on his guitars were all duct taped down, likely to prevent them from slipping as he whipped his instrument through the air. All night long he was the focal point of the performance while the Chevalier brothers showed a more reserved presence, keeping the rhythm section of the trio tight and focused. Mattheisen’s frantic stage antics came at no expense to the music, as he was still able sing and to tap out complex riffs with ease and complete accuracy.

Tiny Moving Parts wrapped up their unfortunately short set with Pleasant Living’sSundress.” While the song was certainly able to hype up the crowd, it was disappointing to see fans clamoring for an encore less than an hour after the band began playing. Billy stood up from behind his drum kit to chug a beer as his bandmates returned to their instruments for their closing track “Dakota.” A wave of stage divers (including Mattheisen and his guitar) took flight during the final minutes, hoping to get one more chance to surf the sea of bodies before the end of the show. The band thanked the crowd for the last time, walking off stage as feedback rang from the speakers and sweat dripped from the microphones.

The Happiest Emo Band: Tiny Moving Parts
  • Impressive musicianship
  • High energy and audience participation
  • Short set - would have liked to hear more songs
8.5Overall Score

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