Houndmouth – Union Transfer – April 4, 2015
During the second chorus of “Sedona,” it struck me: I hadn’t listened too closely to Houndmouth’s lyrics prior to seeing them on Saturday at Union Transfer, but that night the words had direct meaning. As the band sang, “I remember, I remember when the neon used to burn so bright and pink/ A Saturday night kind of pink,” a neon pink sign reading HOUNDMOUTH glowed atop the stage—and it was a Saturday night. The only other time reference was when drummer-singer Shane Cody called out that Wisconsin had beaten Kentucky in the Final Four.
Otherwise, Houndmouth played in a time warp. The guys—guitarist-singer Matt Myers, bassist-singer Zak Appleby and Cody—wore eccentric vintage outfits with deep V-neck shirts while keyboardist-singer Katie Toupin donned a shimmering blue dress. At times,
it seemed like they were trying to approximate Fleetwood Mac’s aesthetic. Toupin looked and sounded the part of an ethereal songstress while Myers stood at the front of the stage, high-kicking during solos. It worked for them, though, and throughout a set list comprised of material from their first album and their newest, Little Neon Limelight, Houndmouth were unrelentingly energetic.
Most of the songs sounded like they should be played in front of an audience rather than in a studio, especially when they climaxed with instrumental swells and big harmonies. But there were quiet moments too, like when Toupin played guitar and sweetly sang, “Gasoline.” And even if they wear their influences on their sleeves, quite literally, as the classic-rock costumes indicated, Houndmouth don’t come across as overly sentimental, and it’s appreciated. The quartet gave shout-outs to some of the Philadelphia bands they admire, especially Dr. Dog. And despite not sounding alike, both groups approach a live show similarly: work hard, have fun and relax. —Jared Levy | @Playtonic