Words + Photos by Steve Melone
Moon Hooch played to a sold out crowd at Brooklyn Bowl Saturday night. After a beat-boxing extravaganza by Honeycomb, the crowd’s energy was in need of sustenance, and Moon Hooch was more than willing to provide it. Mike Wilbur and Wenzi McGowen took to the stage with saxophones strapped to their chests, ready to be played.
At times the two would come together and speak some type of saxophone language back and forth to each other as if to plan out the next musical move. It would typically act as a precursor to a foot-stomping, ass-shaking jazz solo that would be the cause for screams to emit from the crowd. Drummer James Muschler, had his work cut out for him the whole night by keeping time with the two speedy saxophonists, but he was game the whole show. The timing of the three musicians was nearly impeccable throughout the night. The few calm moments that occurred acted as time to take a breath and bring the energy to a higher level than before. With so much non-stop sax playing going on, you would think the two were able to breathe underwater, but they were only drenched in sweat, not drowning in it.
Though the trio is considered to be on the jazzier side, they mix in plenty of dance and funk vibes, especially when performing live. It was a non-stop jam, but they knew what they were playing, bringing their A-game. Of course, there were moments of improvisation, but the crowd didn’t care either way, they just wanted that energy to carry on song-to-song, and it always did.
At one-point, McGowen took a makeshift traffic cone more than a yard long from the stage, attaching it to the end of his baritone sax and extending the length. The crowd reacted yelling out “Fuck yea!” and “Woo!” more than occasionally to what was happening on stage. They played selections from their last two releases, Red Sky and Joshua Tree. Other songs included, “Number 9,” “St.Louis,” “Bari 3,” and “Tubes.”
The saxophones on stage all had a vintage look to them, as though they had been weathered over significant periods of time. They had lost their shine, almost seeming to be corroded over decades of use, but it added character, and no one could hear the difference anyway.
McGowen pulled out a contrabass clarinet, something I had never seen before, as well as an electronic Akai instrument that I can only describe as an electronic dub-step infused clarinet. The sounds it made kept the crowd enticed with open eyes and moving feet.
After playing more than an hour and a half, Moon Hooch graciously thanked the crowd and headed out. No encore needed. After non-stop dancing for over ninety minutes, the audience was worn out. I think they all walked away with something they won’t forget; the saxophone is one sexy instrument.
TheWaster.com | Brooklyn