Alternative song structure is virtually undefinable by nature. The title “alternative” itself suggests that there isn’t a definitive naming convention to explain the individualistic anatomy of each song/band. Bob Moses and Mansionair are the epitome of this descriptive peculiarity – their recent set at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club showed that their familiar work may hint electronic roots, but that their constantly changing live approach puts them in a category all their own.
The night at the Paradise began with Mansionair, an electronic band who made the trek to Boston all the way from Sydney, Australia. My familiarity with Mansionair’s 2017 hit studio songs “Easier” and “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” left me feeling ignorantly surprised that the Aussie group was, well, just that – a group. Their deep electronic integration and frequent involvement in remix-heavy studio content suggested a singular DJ was at the helm of the project. When they walked out with one member on drums, one on keys/sound, and one on guitar/vocals, I was stunned. “How could this be a three piece band…?” I thought. The answer was a simple: with a stoic, detail-oriented drummer, a falsetto-loving, poppy vocalist, and a producer filling all the expected electronic drops that online streamers have come to know and love. Their only minor flaw was their stage presence, as you could tell they were a bit uncomfortable conversationally. Every few songs their unexciting talking points would fail to rouse the unreceptive crowd, showing Mansionair were either socially out of place half way across the world or tired with half of their tour behind them.
Like Mansionair, Bob Moses’ set challenged my preconceived notions about the band’s discerned brand. My prior experience discovering Bob Moses for the first time at Alternative Buffalo’s Kerfuffle music festival left me virtually speechless as I watched a living example of the closest collision that alternative music could make with deep house music. I expected and locally promoted the same fascinating structure in Boston this time around – Bob Moses was sure to adapt their new album to the same 8-10 minute-per-song arrangement that featured long, rapt drum intros and heavy production builds. Time would prove me very wrong, as the now four-piece band had evolved into a much more traditionally methodical group. The lack of long drum intros were apparent, but their new bass player was just as apparent in adding an element that had been missing from previous shows. Instead of playing 8-10 minute songs focusing on build-ups, these 4-6 minute songs adhered to a much more rigid song structure that highlighted the band as a whole rather than individual members concurrently singling themselves out within the larger group. I wouldn’t call the set “better” than the last time I saw Bob Moses almost two years ago. I would call it “different” however, which is one of the most important descriptors a progressively changing act like Bob Moses could get.
Due to the lack of a publicized setlist, below is a playlist of my favorite songs between Mansionair and Bob Moses.
Favorite Live Tracks: Easier, Tearing Me Up, Like It Or Not, Astronaut – Something About Your Love, Heaven Only Knows.