"They self-describe their music as 'Cave Music.' A term that tries to describe something no one has heard before. Imagine 'Elephant Walk', 'Flight of the Bumblebee' and a college marching band battling it out until all three are exhausted and the only sound is a quiet jazz jam that leads into a resurrection of cymbals and horn blares. Now, imagine that over and over while you're pseudo-sex grinding with the closest person to you and you're all inside that huge, cave-dance scene in 'The Matrix Reloaded.' Yes, it's that intense."
The Bootleg HiFi is tucked away is a nondescript strip of Beverly, just a few minutes away from the menagerie of music venues on and off Sunset in Silver Lake and Echo Park. It's usually operated as a theater (y'know.. actors and stage crew and such), but on the off nights and when it gets too late for the latest independent playwright's experimental presentation, The Fold in HiFi/Fold Silver Lake/Bootleg HiFi takes over (ask three people what this venue is called, you'll get three answers; "The Bootleg" will suffice for most). They've had the pleasure of introducing acts like The Kills, Rufus Wainwright and My Morning Jacket to Los Angeles. Headlining on Thursday night was the incomparable Moon Hooch, with openers Mount Saint and Sweet Child.
Sweet Child is a female-only band with a modern synth-pop sound. Their songs are a little more in-your-face than the sugar-synth to which some resort. Their fashion seems bent in that direction, too. The three members of the band at the front of the stage were all clad in matching leather jackets with chrome shoulder spikes: in red, lead guitarist Nova (they all have one word names); in black, lead vocalist/keyboardist Lux and in white, bassist Aqua. Drummer Ember owns one of these signature pieces, in brown (per their website); but, she was rocking a sleeveless top for most of their set (all the better to see her drum muscles). They almost come across as a musically-inclined girl gang from the 80's; like they could take on The Warriors in an alley and hold their own. Their sound isn't wholly original, but it's well put-together and they all seem like professionally trained musicians. Don't let their hard facade fool you, their sound is pretty-girl, synth-pop of the highest order and bound to get you bouncing. Their facebook page and lack of google results indicate that this was their first live gig together, but they already have almost 41,000 facebook likes; check them out at their next live show in The House of Blues' Voodoo Lounge and make 40,000 people jealous.
Mount Saint, is a fairly new band with a pretty impressive pedigree. Brittany Tolman, vocals/keyboard, was the original keyboardist for Imagine Dragons. Her husband, Andrew, was the original drummer for ID and is now in The Moth and The Flame and, per the internet, he plays drums for Mount Saint in the studio and live when he has time. Tolman brought back some help from Utah with brothers, and longtime musical collaborators, Clint and Calvin Holgate. Calvin plays lead guitar, his long locks and low slung axe swing with the swaying crowd. Clint also plays guitar and shares vocals with Brittany. Watching them felt like watching William H. Macy and Sarah Wayne Callies, but Frank from "Shameless" and Lori from "The Walking Dead" were probably too busy on a zombie killing bender to find their way into The Bootleg on Thursday night (welcome news, that meant more PBR for the rest of the crowd).
Drew Beck plays bass and offers up backing vocals on many of their tracks. Andrew Tolman wasn't drumming and the drummer's name wasn't available at time of publication; but, he did a wonderful job of supporting Tolman's diamond sharp vocals. His performance and look were reminiscent of Animal from "The Muppets" (i.e. fantastic). The song "Criminal", featuring Tolman's voice and Beck's bass at peak level, sounds like the best of Swedish Dance Synth with a hint of rock found in Calvin Holgate's guitar solo. "Excuses" has Clint Holgate and Holman harmonizing for the whole song and has a completely different, but not disconnected, sound; "No, I shouldn't make excuses... Sometimes, I feel like I'm dying..", the lyrics go. This is the kind of band your girlfriend drags you to; but, you won't have to make excuses to stick around. They have a big venue sound and won't be hanging in the small club scene for long. Check them out live, they play a lot around L.A., like at WitZend in Venice on February 12th.
Headlining the night was the big get, instrumentalist trio Moon Hooch, out of Brooklyn. If you know anything about this band you know they got their start by playing for change around NYC, in subways and in front of museums. Their fanbase grew quickly after Bob Boilen had them on NPR's "Tiny Desk Concerts" series where they started their set with Wenzl McGowen's tenor sax stuffed with a four foot long traffic cone (and attached with "caution" tape). Boilen has said, "People ask me all the time to name my favorite Tiny Desk Concert. It's my desk and I've seen almost all of the nearly 400 concerts up close. So you'd think this would be easy. Moon Hooch have made it a lot easier." In short, they're one-of-a-kind and incredible. Seriously, watch the video.
They self-describe their music as "Cave Music". A term that tries to describe something no one has heard before. Imagine "Elephant Walk", "Flight of the Bumblebee" and a college marching band battling it out until all three are exhausted and the only sound is a quiet jazz jam that leads into a resurrection of cymbals and horn blares. Now, imagine that over and over while you're having pseudo-sex grind with the closest person to you and you're all inside that huge, cave-dance scene in "The Matrix Reloaded." Yes, it's that intense. They wasted no time dialing it up early with "Number 8" starting out their set. A fast paced, swirl of saxophone and lightning quick drumming (from James Muschler), by the middle of the song McGowen (on baritone sax) and Mike Wilbur (on tenor sax) are facing off like two part-human, part-robot velociraptors fighting over a mate. Over the course of the night, the band and audience got no breaks as they seamlessly went from one song to another; sweating, dancing, smiling. This crew pushed every one of their instruments past their design-capacity for awesome. McGowen introduced most of the crowd to the Contrabass Clarinet, a "Metropolis"-like futuristic contraption with an effects pedal hooked up that gave it a heavy Dubstep sound worthy of any nightclub song du jour.
The crowd was varied, due much to the fact that, in addition to the normal Silver Lake crowd, it seemed like a lot of high school woodwind players had brought their parents to the show. From 15 to 50, there isn't a wrong age to love Moon Hooch. They are at once specific and universal. They are rage and anger and love and magic. They are, hopefully, coming back as soon as possible. Go see them everywhere feasible; which, for us Angelenos, is probably a FREE show at the Crystal Bay Casino in NV in March. Yes, they're that good. It's road trip time.