By Matt Wickstrom
This Thursday night, a euphoric blend of jam and funk will collide at Cosmic Charlie’s as Greensboro, N.C.-based band The Mantras make their way to Lexington for a stop amid their busy fall tour.
The trip to Lexington marks the sextet’s first trip back to the bluegrass since July, when they played at the Paradise Music and Arts Festival in Hustonville.
The Mantras formed 12 years ago, when guitarist Keith Allen and bassist Brian Tyndall met at jam parties while attending school at UNC-Greensboro.
Since the inception of The Mantras, new elements of sound have been brought into the band’s repertoire, including keyboards and an array of found objects, or unusual objects that project a unique, one-of-a-kind sound.
Known for their incredible live performances that include full projection light shows, intense dueling guitars and psychedelic synthesizers, The Mantras on-stage energy radiates to the crowd, who reciprocate their appreciation and love of the music back to the band through dance and wide-eyed grins.
According to drummer Justin Loew, the band enjoys mixing up their sets, leaving fans unsuspecting of what the band has in store for each show. The Mantras currently have more than 50 original songs and have a plethora of cover tunes to mix into their shows.
A driving force behind The Mantras is their loyal fan base, who just last year helped the band secure $10,000 through crowd sourcing to fund the production of a new album, which is due to release in early 2016.
“We were trying to build our own studio, but lacked the funds”, Loew said. “We knew we have a very supportive fan base that wanted another album from us.”
After having a rotating cast of musicians coming through the band in its earlier years, the lineup has since stabilized with guitarists Keith Allen and Kenn Mogel; Tyndall on bass, percussionist Brent Vaughn, keyboardist Julian Sizemore, and Loew on drums. The upcoming studio release will be the first with the band’s solidified lineup, and the first since 2013’s “Jambands Ruined My Life.”
In addition to recording and playing nearly 180 shows a year, The Mantras also host their own festival, called Mantrabash. The festival celebrated its six-year anniversary in September in Ferguson, N.C. Droves of fans showed up at this year’s festival, which included two nights of The Mantras, and appearances from Tauk, BIG Something, EOTO, and other heavyweights in the jam and electronic dance music scene.
According to Loew, the inaugural Mantrabash saw roughly 7,500 in attendance, with numbers continuing to grow every year.
“We weren’t able to play a lot of festivals when we first started off, so we decided to throw our own party instead,” Loew said.
For their show this Thursday in Lexington, The Mantras will be supported by Mister F, a four-piece band from Albany, N.Y., that brings with them a refreshing mixture of fusion and funk. The show is for ages 21 and over, with Mister F kicking off the night at 10 p.m.
Tickets are $10, and can either be purchased at the door or on Ticketfly.