“Unique” is an absolute adjective that requires no modifier. It’s like pregnant and dead. You cannot be “sort of pregnant.” You either are, or you aren’t. You cannot be “kind of dead.” (Although I’d never argue about being “really, most sincerely dead.”) You cannot be rather unique, quite unique, or somewhat unique. Either you ARE unlike anyone or anything else, or you’re not. Now that we have THAT cleared up:
Moon Hooch is unique. Really, most sincerely unique. Not to mention mind-blowing and face-melting.
Linda (before the show): “That’s it? A drummer and two saxophones?”
The Moon Hooch juggernaut blew through Tampa Wednesday night with hurricane force. Having pointed out their uniqueness, I would offer this point of reference: they remind me of the power of the Dead Kenny Gs and any other project that involves Skerik, Mike Dillon or both. This is punk metal jazz so spell-binding that the packed Crowbar denizens were jammed up against the stage, pulled in by invisible tractor beams.
I’d had the same react the first time I saw MH open for Lotus (02.20.13). I simply could not believe what I was hearing. Where was the bass player? Hiding? Nope. Either Wenzl McGowen or Mike Wilbur was providing the bottom end. Wilbur did so on tenor and, a couple of times, on a bass synth. McGowen blew his figurative brains out on baritone saxophone, on baritone with a modified cardboard bell (no tube this time), and most impressively on the stunning-looking contrabass clarinet. Sadly, I had missed them at this year’s Tropical Heatwave courtesy of WMNF, so nothing was going to keep me from getting to the Crowbar.
The trio came out at about 100 miles per hour, roaring with that double-tenor attack (think “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” on PCP cut with Heisenberg’s meth) and never, never let up. Linda pointed out that power drummer James Muschler reminded her of Ginger Baker, a very apt comparison indeed. His drumming meshed with the two saxes to take everyone on a massive roller coaster ride to nirvana. How they had the energy to even attempt an encore after 90 minutes of full-frontal aural assault is beyond me. Mind. Blown. Face. Melted.
Linda (after the show): “I don’t ever want to miss them when they are here!”
We missed opening band the Wholetones, although everybody let me know we had in fact “missed it.” DJ K Slat did sets between the bands. I really enjoyed his particular mix, what I would refer to (and I am distinctly NOT an expert on these labels) as deep house. My only complaint was that he was too loud, louder even than the bands. That might be out of his control. I am looking forward to hearing him again at the Great Outdoors Pre-party June 28th at New World Brewery with Displace and S.P.O.R.E.
Infinite Groove Orchestra played an adventurous set, working out a bunch of new tunes for a CD to be released in the fall (Moon Hooch is also preparing a September release). I am focused on rhythm sections and how they drive band performances (even when the bass is a reed instrument!), and Jon Shea on bass and drummer Adam Volpe again powered the quartet through this new music. They assured me the tunes were works in progress, but they sounded pretty darn good to me.
John Richardson was having way too much fun with his phalanx of keyboards, so high he had to stand to see his band mates. And, once again, for me this was another monster night for Josh Formanek on guitar. He stood front and center and just ripped off great solo after great solo with excellent work in between. IGO is one of a half-dozen Tampa-area bands truly Deserving of Wider Recognition (some magazine used to have that designation).
As always, it was great to see so many friends, including show promoter Phil Benito with Brokenmold Entertainment, Linda’s friend Joe, Jeremiah, Bret Peretz, and the one and only Purple Bear! And thanks to Purple Bear for the photos!