Just before the New Year’s weekend began, Daryl’s House Club welcomed three local/regional acts on December 29 for a uniquely fun night of music to help get warmed up for the weekend. The night started with a set of homegrown Hudson Valley rock from just down the road in Brewster courtesy of Karma Darwin. After hearing their live set it was fairly obvious why they make frequent appearances at Daryl’s House. Their sound was solid, built off a nice blend of rock, jam, and rhythm.
Stepping over the Massachusetts border we arrived at a unique five-song set from freestyle beatboxer Honeycomb. His set was composed entirely from his beatboxing, each tune and freestyle consisting of percussion, melody and even some apparent harmony all at once. The beats were seamless and clean to the point where he would be a direct competitor side-by-side against any drum-and-bass DJ. As a common collaborator with the night’s headliner, Honeycomb was joined by members of Moon Hooch on his final song.
Hailing from Brooklyn with a NYC subway busking origin, Moon Hooch’s Wenzl McGowen (sax/contrabass clarinet/EWI) , Mike Wilbur (sax), and James Muschler (drums) quickly turned Daryl’s House into a Union Square station dance session with “Something Else” from their recent 2016 album Red Sky. Through the set they touched upon their other two albums as well, This Is Cave Music (2014) and Moon Hooch (2013) and brought Honeycomb back out for some help during their encore.
Using only tenor and bari saxes, a contrabass clarinet, drums and some electronic effects/processing, Moon Hooch approaches the conventional sounds somewhat unconventionally and turns them into rhythmic hooks and lures – the embodiment of exploring sound and its interaction with other sounds and the ears absorbing it. That was the driving force behind a sustained level of energy that gripped their set from start to finish, from the hyped-up “Number 8” through the entrancing arpeggios of “St. Louis” and extended sustained notes that require a level of mastery to achieve on the sax.
Moon Hooch’s sound on their four albums, including their latest free EP release Joshua Tree (check out NYS Music’s review of that album here) is incredibly fun to listen to, but remarkably infectious in their live performance. While most of their live show is composed, there is plenty of improv and room for surprises different from the CD version of their songs that make it a must-see performance for fans who have only heard their CDs, vinyl, or videos.
Aside from the arrangement and composition of the songs in the live setting, Moon Hooch has a tight-knit energy driven stage presence that the audience thrived from, and even vice-versa. The cozy setting of Daryl’s House lets the audience get right up close with the band, which got everyone in the room (Moon Hooch included) chewing into the experience of the show.
Moon Hooch is back in New York at Buffalo Iron Works on Feb. 8, Waterhole in Saranac Lake on Feb. 9, and Brooklyn Bowl on Feb. 18 as well as several other shows around the Northeast in the next month.