The Friday after Valentine’s Day at Funk n Waffles Music Hall homemade hearts hung from the ceiling and decorated the stage. It was a night built for the love of the local music scene. The Moho Collective set the stage and Overhand Sam would close it down, but not before inviting a bunch of friends to help with the celebrating.
With a name like The Moho Collective, you might believe this band would bring a stageful of members. But as just a trio, the “collective” in their name might better describe their influence-rich sound. The trio, Kurt Johnson on guitar and pedal steel, Justin Rister on bass, and Ryan Barclay on drums and percussion, “collect” musical styles from across the globe, combining them in new and mystifying ways. Their hour-long set travelled to Australia, with Barclay laying down a low drone on the didgeridoo on “Bamal,” Mexico/Latin America with the fiery Satana-esque guitar shredder “Wenindee,” the Far East with the pedal steel plinking groove of “Chikyu Hakken,” before finishing up in Canada with their stirring instrumental rendition of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.”
Through it all they explored heavy rock, soulful funk, jazzy blues and tripped-out effects-laden spaciness. If you like music that shakes your hips, pumps your fist and makes your head spin, The Moho Collective is for you. They’re promising two new albums this year and probably already have more shows on the calendar than they played in all of 2017 so there should be ample opportunity to enjoy their worldly and otherworldly grooves this year.
Johnson’s guitar mate from Maybird, Sam Snyder, aka Overhand Sam, is even more enigmatic to first-time listeners. As is implied in the name, he plays guitar “overhand.” It looks odd at first and is met with many quizzical looks from first timers. Playing for friends, family and longtime fans, there weren’t any surprised faces Friday night. Snyder lends his hand to many bands in the Rochester area, gives lessons and records/produces local music. He used his set as a bit of a showcase for some of these projects.
Backed by bassist Benton Sillick and drummer Aaron Mika from Anamon, Snyder ran through tracks off his 2017 release Longer Legs. Songs ran the gamut from melodic punk to new wave to twang rock, with the trio format giving Snyder’s unique guitar stylings plenty of room to shine.
Midway through their set, Anamon front-woman Ana Emily Monaco was invited up to play a pair of new songs she’s been recording with Snyder’s help, who also plays in her band. Johnson joined on the pedal steel to lend a rich backwash of country twang to her lilting mid-tempo rock.
Next, Snyder invited his guitar student Matt Treadwell and drummer Joe Parker to premier a couple songs of their own, in a project tentatively named Penthorse. In a bit of a 180 from Anamon, these songs had a spastic herky-jerky energy, afro-beat inflected sound and near-spoken word vocals.
The set finished up back with the original trio playing more from Longer Legs, with a lively cover of the Kinks’ “Everbody’s Gonna Be Happy” thrown in for good measure. Yet more friends helped close out the night, with the McCarthy brothers from new-to-town August West joining on vocals, and Johnson back up to play some Omnichord. The band laid down yet another premier, ripping through the infectiously catchy “Lalalazy” to close out what was a lovely night showcasing the talent of Rochester.