The Mantras Thrill the High Country with Another Sensational Night at Boone Saloon

Published Friday, April 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm

By Bailey Faulkner

Walking through the doors of Boone Saloon and seeing the band’s sound and light equipment, I knew that The Mantras were about to kick off an unforgettable night of music. Having never seen the band live, I couldn’t wait for Greensboro’s most exciting “jam machine” to take the stage.

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The Mantras/Photo by Kendall Bailey Photography

Shortly after I arrived, the members navigated their way through the equipment-filled stage and picked up their instruments. When the band laid down its first jam of the night, I instantly understood why The Mantras have such a loyal fan base.

After finishing up the first jam full of relentless keyboards and Jerry Garcia-inspired guitar soloing, the band welcomed the crowd and moved on with the set. One of the first things that really stood out to me, other than each member’s incredible musicianship, was the truly professional psychedelic light show. Check out this photo so you can see for yourself! The band is grateful for Dustin Klein and his top-notch light work.

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Keith Allen/Photo by Kendall Bailey Photography

 

Something else that caught my eye from the beginning of the show was keyboardist Julian Sizemore’s keyboard setup. Sizemore’s lightning-quick improvisations were made even more interesting by his three-station keyboard arrangement, allowing him to switch from organ to synthesizer to traditional keyboard seamlessly.

Once the third song — Kinetic Bump — started, the audience couldn’t stop dancing to the funky synthesizer-driven groove. The upbeat tune gave each of the members a chance to really show off their funk skills. Guitarist and lead singer Keith Allen broke out his Crybaby wah pedal, playing one of the grooviest guitar rhythms that I’ve heard in a while.

Watching the band signaling to each other during their jams, I could tell that the guys are truly professionals. Each key and dynamic change seemed effortless for the band, even while it ventured into some of the most entrancing psychedelic musical atmospheres that you could imagine at a live show.

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Allen and Sizemore/Photo by Kendall Bailey Atwater

During the first set, the band played a new song called Pain Drain. The upbeat tune went over exceptionally well, especially when Sizemore and Allen traded off lead playing. The mind-melting keyboard solo and aggressive blues lead guitar was certainly a highlight of the night.

While Sizemore’s soaring keyboards and Allen’s blistering guitar playing were obviously first-class, The Mantras wouldn’t be complete without one of the strongest rhythm sections imaginable. By the end of the night, Justin Loew’s drum kit and Brent Vaughn’s percussion setup must have been worn out. The two never missed a beat, giving Brian Tyndall all he needed to show off his authoritatively funky bass playing.

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Brian Tyndall/Photo by Kendall Bailey Atwater

In addition to Tyndall’s exceptional bass skills, I noticed that he kept stepping on a huge piece of equipment at his feet. Having never seen anything like it, I got the chance to ask Tyndall what the huge Moog device at his feet was all about during the band’s mid-set break. I never would have imagined the answer he gave me.

Giving me a closer look, Tyndall told me that the pedalboard was actually a Moog Taurus 3, a synthesizer with organ-style pedals that adds a lot of substance to the low end of a band’s sound. He also told me that only around 1500 Taurus 3s were ever made.

Having wrapped up the first set with their classic “Soft News” and a cover of the crowd favorite “Hits from the Bong,” the band kicked off their second set with the southern-flavored song “Further.” After entrancing the crowds with the first song of the set, the band moved on to “Strongbox,” another new tune. The funky jam had the audience dancing uncontrollably.

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Keith Allen/Photo by Kendall Bailey Atwater

As if Boone Saloon seemingly left the High Country and headed east, “Man You Rawk” had the audience dancing along with its heavily Middle Eastern-inspired rhythm. Klein’s lightshow took the already psychedelic song to a new level, completely mesmerizing the audience. During the extended jam, Allen showed off his chops, frantically soloing and proving that the Middle Eastern-inspired style is just another of his genres of expertise.

As the night moved into the early hours of the morning, Justin Loew and Brent Vaughn reenergized the audiences with a dual drum solo that moved tastefully into “Five Roads.” After “Five Roads” and the last song of the set, “Abacus,” the band thanked the crowd and began to exit the stage. In need of another tune, the crowd shouted until the members picked up their instruments and played “Metronome” for the encore.

Once the show wrapped up, I had the chance to talk to a few of the band’s members. I was really pleased to learn that the members are not only exceptional musicians, but also exceptional people in general. The band was excited to talk to me and was very grateful that I came out to the show.

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The Mantras/Photo by Kendall Bailey Photography

As if the music wasn’t enough to sell me on the band, the members’ kindness really convinced me that these guys truly embody their band’s mantra: to live a life of music and community.

If you didn’t have the chance to check out the show, you can listen to the live recording on the band’s website by clicking here. The recording will be posted soon.

While you’re on the site, make sure you don’t miss the band’s next show near you. You’ll regret missing out on this unstoppable jam machine!

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