Words by Sandy Castoro | Photo by Joe Papeo
Austin, TX — It is the Friday before Halloween and while the masses are carving pumpkins or gobbling up candy corn, I find myself at the Parish, sipping a Jameson on the rocks and awaiting Austin newcomers Black Taxi to take the stage before tried and true local headliners The Bright Light Social Hour.
The crowd is sauntering in slowly, most likely held up by last minute costume adjustments, when the music begins. After an increasingly rousing opening set by talented Big Head Todd-esque band the Mercers, the patrons surrounding me had clearly downed a few rounds of celebratory holiday libations and were sufficiently warmed up for the acts that would soon follow.
Dressed appropriately for the occasion, Black Taxi takes the stage with lead singer Ezra Huleatt doing his best Daniel Day Lewis from There Will Be Blood impression in stripes, suspenders, a top hat and a Snidely Whiplash mustache. To his left, Bill Mayo (guitars/ vocals/ triangle) invokes the wild alter ego of a Ken doll, wearing a hard plastic blonde wig and dark Ray Bans. With a last peek at the set list, a final fidget of the front row instrument rack, a nod of the head and a shimmy of the legs – Black Taxi is off and rocking.
It becomes exponentially obvious as these boys from Brooklyn get busy that they don’t care who is watching or what you think of them; they are simply predisposed to deliver dynamic musicality and captivating Vaudevillian stage antics without the desire, or ability, to exact any less. Even as wires catch up in rugs or an unbalanced microphone stand repeatedly falls into a crowd of dancing fans, nobody in the room seems to notice until after the last note was uttered.
The undeniable force behind this voraciousness is clearly the hunky front man who not only incorporates a barrage of instruments into his routine (xylophone, trumpet, tambourine, whistle, megaphone) but looks like a young, curly-haired Anthony Keidis and dances with the style and energy of Mick Jagger while doing so. As entertaining as it is to watch an uninhibited lead singer, the show wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the sinuous sounds of a seriously solid backing band (remember The Doors?). Bass player Krisana Soponpong made sure to enjoy himself, bounding across the stage while plucking hefty bass lines as Jason Holmes (drums, vocals) kept the animated crew in time with even-tempered drum beats.
Two highlights of this show were the funky, radio-ready tracks “Head on a Pike” and “Up Here for Thinking, Down There for Dancing”; these songs are hot singles and looking to mingle with the airwaves near you.
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