Friday, November 13, 2015

Moon Taxi at The Chapel – A Concert Review

     Moon Taxi visited The Chapel in San Francisco on November 12. As the name of the venue clearly suggests, it was originally a chapel (built in 1914); and the 40-foot arched ceiling has been preserved. Seeing Moon Taxi at the venue wasn’t a religious experience, but if someone in the audience wasn’t already a fan of Moon Taxi, there was a conversion.
          It was an evening during which all the elements came together. Even before Moon Taxi walked onto the stage, the crowd was festive. When the band did hit the stage, they only added to the atmosphere. It was interesting that a band that talked only sparingly could create such a strong chemistry with the audience. If you look at the picture of the setlist (below), you’ll see the band’s many uses of the mathematical symbol ">" to designate uninterrupted flows between many of the songs. Yet, the evening had the feel of a strong camaraderie between the people on and the people off the stage.

      Many of the songs of Moon Taxi have an alignment with Southern Rock during its peak in the mid-1970s. As examples, there are parallels with the Allman Brothers’ album “Brothers and Sisters” and the Outlaws’ self-titled album. It was fitting that the performance of Moon Taxi featured instrument solos by a number of its members, since solos were far more common “back in da day.” The drum solo of Tyler Ritter was most apparent, because the other four band members temporarily exited. The keyboard solo by Wes Bailey was most interesting, because the sound had a melodic flow even though Bailey was often hitting the keys as if he were playing the drums. But it was the guitar solo of Spencer Thomson during the song “Cabaret” that particularly stood out, because it began with a Blues flavor and finished pure Rock. Someone commented, “This is why we go to live performances.” 

     During at least one song, Tommy Putnam had the reverse of a solo, as he simultaneously played bass and keyboard. It’s common for a band member to switch his focus between two instruments, even within the same song. But Putnam was actually playing both instruments. The greater focus was on the bass, but he periodically moved his right hand to play a note on the keyboard.
     The Austin City Limits Festival (one of our favorite festivals) was well represented at The Chapel. Spencer Thomson was wearing a T-shirt from the festival, while lead vocalist/guitarist Trevor Terndrup wore the same shirt as he did during the band’s appearance this year. 
The Setlist
The “decoded” setlist:
1.  “All Day All Night”
2.  “Who's to Say?”
3.  “River Water”
4.  “Year Zero”
5.  “Change”
6.  “Rooftops”
7.  “Red Hot Lights”
8.  “Run Right Back”
9.  “Make Your Mind Up”
10. “Mercury”
11. “Cabaret”
12. “Suspicious”
13. “Fame” (David Bowie cover)
14. Drum Solo
15. “Morocco”
16. “The New Black”
17. “Beaches”
18. “Running”

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