John Maus brought pure emotion to the Earl

The lo-fi synth pop innovator played songs from 'Screen Memories' and beyond

Photo credit: Bobby Power

On February 8, lo-fi synth pop savant John Maus performed for a sold-out crowd at the Earl in East Atlanta. Touring in support of 2017’s haunting Screen Memories LP, Maus, backed by a trio of musicians, brought his peculiarly manic energy to the stage. Maus, sans any instruments in hand, thrashed and head banged across the stage while belting out his deep baritone karaoke-style into the mic. Playing against his stone-faced bandmates and pre-recorded keyboard bombast, Maus ripped through tracks from his entire catalogue to the delight of fist pumping, dancing fans. The sense of detachment sometimes found in electronic music was completely absent as he paced the stage, whipping himself and the crowd into a sweat-soaked frenzy. Maus led fans in an eerie yet exuberant singalong to “Cop Killer,” a standout track from 2011’s We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves before launching into “Pets,” a bizarre, upbeat keyboard concoction from Screen Memories that repeatedly proclaims, “Your pets are gonna die.” After an hour or more of watching Maus scream, jump, and pound his skull with his fists, a wide-eyed woman was overheard remarking to her friend, “He is just pure emotion!”

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