Guy Walks Into a Basement: Mini Mansions Slay Philly’s The Black Box at Underground Arts


Alt rock supergroup, Mini Mansions hit The Black Box at Underground Arts the other week for an evening of mesmerizing music with James Supercave opening things up. After wrapping a successful UK tour spanning the month of May, Mini Mansions kicked off their current tour of US and Canadian dates. Perhaps even more impressive; they’re flying back to Europe just days after finishing this tour for a mix of festivals dates, headliners and even a few support gigs with the mighty Muse!!  Of course, with their fourth full-length record, Guy Walks Into a Bar… coming out in a next month (which, you can pre-order here), the rigorous touring schedule makes sense to test out some new material alongside live staples and favorites.


Having only been to the larger venue—Underground Arts, itself—I was pleasantly surprised that The Black Box venue packed a decent capacity shortly before Mini Mansions took the stage! Almost packed front-to-back for the group. Initially I wondered—hanging toward the back—if I would be able to see in the intimate, dimly lit space. Well, no worries!! The Mini Mansions stage show was more than lit up enough to see with their logo signs, flashing multiple colors throughout the night as well as the quite brilliant stage lighting in place. 


Running a bit late due to presumed technical difficulties, the band made up for it, starting things off with three cuts off of their biggest record-to-date, The Great Pretenders. “Freakout!” got the crowd pumped with it’s smooth synths and Zach Dawes vocals switching from croon-worthy to falsetto in the “I been down,” choruses. The crowd erupted in applause as the band shifted into the more dancey beats of “Death is a Girl,” while Dawes whipped his hair around like a helicopter, before slinking instrumentation of “Creeps.”


While maintaining the crowd with their familiar opening numbers, Mini Mansions threw some new synth beats and falsettos at the crowd with two more recent singles, “Midnight in Tokyo,” which features a killer fuzzy guitar riff about mid-way through. Dawes vocal range set to impress  yet again, sounding like early 80’s Bowie or contemporary artist, Josh Homme on the verses. “GummyBear” featured more slick guitar work and organ-synth, resembling something Scissor Sisters would have included on their first two records. I found myself waving my arms back-n-forth with the sexy choruses and really feeling the groove these guys can lay down!



After slowing things down with some other fan favorites, one of the standout moments of the set was the electric “I’m in Love,” a single that was not-yet released at the time of the show (thankfully it’s available for purchase and streaming, now—LUCKY YOU!!). It’s quite an upbeat banger and very danceable, as evidenced by the entire of The Black Box movin’ and a-groovin’ to it. Make sure to do yourself a favor and enjoy the quirky vid for this latest release here: 


HOWEVER. BE WARNED. It IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK. You’ll need plenty of room to jump around and dance to it, so it’s best you rock out in the comfort of your own home. 


Dawes and keyboardist, Tyler Parkford, graced the Philly crowd with some amazing harmonies on “Monk,” before heading into more new territory and another standout moment with “Hey Lover.” The studio version features guest vocals from indie rock queen, Alison Mosshart. Parkford steps in on Mosshart’s parts and honestly sounds just as good! A sort of sick love song about dependency…but with a pop rock appeal. The “cryyyyyy, cryyyyyyyy” chorus harmonies were what made the song so raw and powerful. “Hey Lover” finished off with a bit of a band jam and crazy drum solo.


Afterward, the fuzzy guitar tones came back, for the Freudian slip—I mean hit, Freudian hit—“Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good).” A frantic, punchy number exploring as the title suggests, all the things in life that make you feel good, even if they’re commonly thought of of as stereotypically bad things. Seeing the crowd pogo up and down to this in unison was a great way to close the evening before some more fan favorites, culminating in one last falsetto-laden band jam on the stomper, “Mirror Mountain.”

Be sure to follow Mini Mansions on their social media to keep up on tour dates in your area, amazing videos, and more. And be sure to pick up the new record, Guy Walks Into a Bar… everywhere on July 26th!


All photography by our photo goddess Shannon, check out her portfolio and Instagram for more images of your favorite bands!



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