Nashville-based indie/jam rockers Moon Taxi took the TLA crowd for a ride on Friday night in Philly. After a great opening set by Temple University’s Mo Lowda & the Humble, Moon Taxi showed why they are one of the best up and coming live acts around.
Moon Taxi lives on the fringe of multiple musical genres. They are indie prog-rockers with an obvious pop influence with extended jams that rock out when they want. They highlighted each of these persuasions at different points during their show Friday night.
Interesting set list curation led to a bit of a slow start as three of their first five songs were brand new and due to be included on their upcoming album, Daybreaker, to be released October 2. The new songs sounded great, but it was clear the band isn’t totally comfortable with them just yet. The band (and the crowd) picked up momentum as the set moved on.
Moon Taxi has become known for great covers that show off different chops than you’d be used to just listening to them on record. However, their choice of performing “Hero” by Family of the Year was a strange one – a choice I didn’t quite get. Fan-favorite Whiskey Sunsets followed, and that’s when the set clearly took a turn for the better. Lead singer Trevor Terndrup’s performance brought the crowd’s energy to a fever pitch and it remained there for the rest of the evening.
It’s incredibly difficult to not have fun while watching him perform. The title track off Moon Taxi’s sophomore release Cabaret was taken from a 3:42 minute recorded track to a 15-minute jam session highlighted by extended solos from guitarist Spencer Thompson and followed up by Wes Bailey on keys. This polished, extended version of “Cabaret” was the highlight of the set and showed where Moon Taxi’s magic lies.
Following “Suspicious,” Moon Taxi played their second cover of the night. As the first few famous notes of “Fame” were played, Terndrup nailed his Boxie, equipped with the guitar and vocal effects that made the song famous. Next came what at glance could have been a pioneering move, in my opinion. Every member of the band left the stage for the drummer who did an extended solo keeping the crowd dancing. At the time, I thought that this would be the perfect way to depart from the fake-encore-era of concerts. The band walks off, the drummer gets his rare chance to shine, and the crowd can cheer for the rest of the band when they come back on stage.
It would remove the ridiculousness of the forced encore and you can leave it up to the crowd whether or not a true encore is required. It turned out that wasn’t the encore break as they had another one later – but it’s a good idea for someone else to employ.
After the drum solo, the band returned to play fan-favorite “Morocco,” which led to the best sing-a-long of the night. “The New Black,” Moon Taxi’s dark, psychadelic number followed to close out the set before the actual encore break.
The band followed up with “Beaches” which was also extended with slowed down valleys and amped up peaks led by Terndrup’s guitar prowess. The band closed out with the hit single “Running Wild” off Mountains Beaches Cities from 2013.
After a slow start, Moon Taxi really kicked into gear highlighting their multidimensional style and their promise. This is a band that belongs in an arena and hopefully the new album will bring them that success.
Moon Taxi’s new album, Daybreaker, is due out October 2.
Year Zero (New Song)
All Day All Night (New Song)
Run Right Back
Make Your Mind Up (New Song)
Hero (Family of the Year cover)
Red Hot Lights (New Song)
Fame (David Bowie cover)
The New Black
Words by Adam Furtado
Photos by Mike Mauger