Forget what you know about the saxophone, because Moon Hooch breaks all expectations of what it can do. From their subway busking days in New York City to their breakout Tiny Desk Concert performance in 2014 to now, Moon Hooch has continued to wow larger and larger crowds with their mix of rock, jazz, and EDM - ‘cave music’, in their words. In support of their third album Red Sky and the surprise free EP release Joshua Tree, the trio of Mike Wilbur, Wenzl McGowen, and James Muschler brought their intense saxophone sounds to a sold-out U Street Music Hall. (And yes, they brought the giant traffic cone.)
The sheer energy of Moon Hooch’s performance is unmatched by their musical peers. But honestly, the performance felt less like a concert and more like a rave. Wilbur and McGowen paced back and forth as intense red light lit their faces, bringing a sense of urgency to the their performance. And urgent it was - they performed a virtually break-less set that showcased how they manipulate their saxophones to make strange, otherworldly dance music. The show consisted mostly of instrumental tracks, but they threw in a few vocal performances like Red Sky cut “St. Louis”. The fan favorite was clearly “Number 9”, which featured not only some Wilbur-McGowen dueling saxophone action, but also some exhilarating drum solos from the shirtless Muschler. “Tubes” brought more of the same, but with a very dubstep-inflected distorted saxophone that wailed throughout the room. And as much as it has run its course, hearing dubstep in 2017 doesn’t feel as torturous if it’s being played on a saxophone.
After seeing them perform, it’s obvious that Moon Hooch have some of the strongest cheek muscles in the game. The amount of energy it takes to manipulate the saxophone to make the distorted and warbling noises that they play night in and night out is astounding. And Muscler’s nuanced drumming is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Combined, the three showed their impeccable skills in both faithfully recreating their tracks and creating some unique improvisations in their music. Moon Hooch continues to lead the pack in breaking new musical ground and in giving fans a performance that they won’t soon forget.
Opening for Moon Hooch was the equally-impressive beatboxer and producer known as Honeycomb. As he sauntered around the stage, he displayed his seemingly effortless skills at beatboxing - every single noise came from his mouth and not from a laptop or keyboard. For the final portion of his set, he invited his cousin to rap on the mic while Moon Hooch drummer James Muschler played the drums for a three-man jam session. Honeycomb’s latest releases and remixes can be found on his Soundcloud page here.