By Jenny Peters and Andy J. Gordon
Moon Taxi is a five-piece indie-alternative jam rock back from Nashville, Tennessee. They have been on the verge of a breakthrough for the past few years with buzzed about performances at festivals and as late-night talk show musical guests. Their show at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on September 29, 2017 proved the hype.
An oddball trio from New York City opened the show. Too Many Zooz play what they self-describe as brass house music. Leo Pellegrino plays baritone saxophone and Matt Doe is on trumpet while David “King of Sludge” Parks plays a drum along with various percussion instruments. They drew attention by busking in subway stations before moving on to real club gigs. Their mostly instrumental songs and frenetic energy inspired dancing and hollering from the Los Angeles crowd. Pellegrino generated unfamiliar horn sounds using electronic effects pedals and also showed off his dance moves while playing.
After a short break, Moon Taxi came onstage to thunderous applause. Although the spotlight was mostly on lead singer and guitarist Trevor Terndrup, the rest of the band delivered fine performances. Terndrup has a distinctive, appealing voice and serious guitar chops. Bass player Tommy Putnam kept the house thumping and added electronic keys. Guitarist Spencer Thomas contributed well placed and trippy solos. Keyboardist Wes Bailey laid down some choice riffs. Tyler Ritter pounded the drums and did a wild solo late in the set during “Moving To The City” while a recorded track of voices and instruments played over him.
The excellent set was loaded with songs from their studio albums including the show opening “Mercury,” “It’s Not Too Late” and “Run Right Back.” During “Morocco,” a stage hand came out with a wheeled hoverboard and Terndrup jumped on. He spun around the stage while playing a guitar solo to the delight of the audience.
Later in the set, the band broke out a couple of fascinating covers. First, Terndrup sang a passionate version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that segued into the band’s “River Water.” They followed that with a spirited cover of The Eagle’s “Hotel California” that included impressive synchronized guitar licks from Terndrup and Thomas. They closed the set with their infectious new single, a song about hope called “Two High.” The horn duo from Too Many Zooz joined Moon Taxi for the show finale.
The crowd begged for more when the band left the stage. The applause grew and after a few minutes, they came back out and teased the audience with the opening sounds of Cream’s “White Room” before launching into 2015s “All Day All Night,” a tune so catchy that McDonald’s used it in a commercial in 2016. Moon Taxi delivered a stellar show at the intimate El Rey Theater. Fans in attendance were lucky to see them there since they will likely be headed to much bigger venues in the future as their popularity soars.