Ever since I read about – and got hooked on – electropop-IDM sensation MNDR (Amanda Warner) on Sheena Beaston’s blog, it seemed that well-earned hype has grown exponentially. MNDR is everywhere: magazines, radio, blogs, Facebook advertisements, Mark Ronson’s infectious “Bang Bang Bang,” and now on tour with Chromeo. Maybe it was all the hype or maybe it was my love for everything she’s written with behind the scenes bandmate Peter Wade, but I had high expectations for MNDR’s sold out 9:30 Club debut on Saturday night.
Perhaps the expectations were unreasonable. Mic malfunctions and a lukewarm crowd reaction put a damper on what I anticipated would be my favorite live performance of 2011. It was still an impressive one-woman seven-song set, but MNDR’s finest D.C. performance is still to come. Tokyo’s The Suzan got just as many, if not more, bodies moving to open the night and received a warm reception from the earlybirds. But by the time Warner took the stage in front of her mesmerizing black-and-white light projections of moving rectangles, the 1,500 person capacity venue had filled with Chromeo fans who seemed less than enthused. A few belligerent drunks up front spoiled the set for many by nearly starting a few fights and cussing out MNDR, who in reply asked, “Why are you so sad?” The microphone cut out frequently in the second half of the brief set. Very few were dancing; I felt like an awkward teenager at a school dance. By the time the crowd showed signs of life and clapped along to new single “Cut Me Out,” (mp3 available for free download through Green Label Sound) the set was almost over.
Despite having the odds against her, mega-bespectacled MNDR showed flashes of her brilliance. The quirky and fashionable Warner commanded the audience’s attention and rarely took a break from dancing and smiling to her synths, though she sat to perform the slow tempo hit from 2010’s E.P.E. “I Go Away.” The bouncy and pulsating Patty Hearst tribute song “Send My Greetings” was a highlight and a glimpse into Warner’s bright future, and closer “Sparrow” was as vibrant and beautifully shrieky as ever. “Jump In” and “Fade to Black” didn’t quite capture the magic of the studio versions for me (Damn you, high expectations!), but “Cut Me Out” translated well as a dance-inducing juggernaut. Early tracks (her spelling bee theme songs) “Caligula” and “C.L.U.B.” were sorely missed, and I had hoped to hear either “Diamonds” or “Casual Attraction.”
Regardless, MNDR’s set left me wanting more. Whether it’s a smaller venue, a longer set, or a less lame crowd, MNDR’s next D.C. performance will be the mindblowing dancefest I’m expecting.
Sooner or Later
Send My Greetings
Fade to Black
I Go Away
Cut Me Out