The inspiration for Roger Miller's uncharacteristically wild outfit, dark pants with lazery stripes angling up and down the leg and a shirt with fiery comets illogically raining upwards from shirttail to yoke, became apparent late in Mission of Burma's second set Thursday night when the guitarist revealed to everyone, including his bandmates, that the song "Fame And Fortune" had been written two decades prior about Pink Floyd founding member Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett. Barrett's death was announced the Monday before the show, and Burma took a few opportunities to pay tribute to him, the most electrifying of which was the encore of "Astronomy Domine," from Floyd's heady 1967 psych-pop debut The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. That Floyd's music influenced Mission Of Burma would seem a laughable proposition, until one considers the prog band's early days as a unit that readily injected improvisation and sections of noise into its music. While the slick productions of '70s Floyd were the type of music punk and post-punk endeavored to tear down and rebuild, a sort of the sonic freedom of Barrett-era Floyd also permeates Burma's music.
Thursday's Burma set, which followed a riveting performance by Boston's Neptune (whose drummer played with a fractured wrist because he didn't want to miss the show, whose drummer screamed in pain inbetween some songs while desperately trying to squeeze the agony out of his broken wrist with his opposite hand), spanned the quartet's career and featured stirring version of hits old ("Peking Spring," "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate," "That's When I Reach For My Revolver") and new ("2wice," "Nancy Reagan's Head," "1,001 Pleasant Dreams," "Let Yourself Go," and a searing "Spider's Web). The band appeared to be having a good time on stage, although bassist Clint Conley seemed a bit tuckered out. Miller kept the energy high alternating Pete Townshend-esque hops with angular posturing. Drummer Peter Prescott wise-cracked about the current state of the music biz, asking if the audience had heard Burma on the teen-soap disaster "The O.C." and claiming that Burma's name was actually The Arctic Fire Clap Your Hands Arcade Monkeys" from his drum riser between tunes. If Burma is coming to your town, you need to see their show.
Buy Mission of Burma's triumphant 2006 long-player The Obliterati from Insound here.
Stream Mission of Burma songs at MySpace here.
Stream Mission of Burma songs at Obliterati.net here.
Steal Mission of Burma's music via The Hype Machine here.
(Photo a detail of a shot used courtesy of Ben Sisto, full Flickr set here, more awesome pics of the band and Miller's outfit from Flickr user Anaphora here)