Houndmouth Continue to ClimbMarch 17th, 2014
Houndmouth – The Bowery Ballroom – March 14, 2014
The four-piece Houndmouth, out of New Albany, Ind.—just across the river from Louisville—are a terrific sum of their parts. Bassist Zak Appleby, drummer Shane Cody, guitarist Matt Myers and keyboardist Katie Toupin all share vocal duties and they each wrote songs on their much heralded debut full-length, From the Hills Below the City. The quartet has been through these parts before: appearing on the bill in September and October of 2012 at The Bowery Ballroom and playing Mercury Lounge last April before selling it out twice in November. After those fall shows, The House List said, “Houndmouth just might be the next big thing.”
Since then, it sounds like all they’ve done is spend time on the road and onstage, working on their live show, because the band’s gotten tighter and the music’s gotten looser. And on Friday night, their ragged energy and palpable exuberance were infectious, spreading smiles across a sold-out Bowery Ballroom. There were new tunes, like “By God,” sung by the perpetually grinning Appleby, and smooth segues—seamless transitions from “Krampus” to “Long as You’re at Home” and from the Beatles’ “Carry That Weight” into “Halfway to Hardinsburg”—and enthusiastic crowd sing-alongs to “Hey Rose,” “Casino (Bad Things)” and “Penitentiary.” Plus there was even a volleyball-style instrument rotation, with everyone sliding over one spot.
The night was also a celebration of Toupin’s birthday, with her mom in the balcony singing along to every tune: “Last year I spent my birthday on Willie Nelson’s farm, but this is way better.” The music, of course, was a major reason for the festive mood. “On the Road” sounded more playful than the recorded version, and the bass-driven “Ludlow” became funkier live. On multiple occasions, Myers coaxed loud applause from the audience as he plucked solos from his guitar bent over at the waist and even from his knees. In short, it was the perfect kind of music for a Friday night. And while the show would’ve been a success even without an encore, Houndmouth returned for a slow-building “The Big Oil Spill” before all four members climbed down into the crowd to finish the night with an unamplified take on “Long Black Veil,” the crowd heartily stomping along. —R. Zizmor