Houndmouth Just Might Be the Next Big Thing

November 18th, 2013

Houndmouth – Mercury Lounge – November 16, 2013

If late-night rowdy rock-outs aren’t your thing, I hope you steered away from Mercury Lounge Saturday night. If you’re not interested in being a part of jubilant, top-of-the-lungs sing-alongs, I hope you avoided Houston and Essex like the plague. If up-and-coming, in-your-face folk-county-rock bands just don’t do it for you, then you would’ve been wise to cross to the other side of the street as the midnight hour approached. Looking and sounding every bit like the next big thing, Houndmouth set the second sold-out crowd in as many nights ablaze with their high-energy show.

It’s a simple formula—good songs, played well. Houndmouth tore through most of their debut, From the Hills Below the City, mixing in sweet harmonies (loud and quiet) and guitar-solo jams, often within the same song. “Krampus” was an early set highlight and a model for the rest of the night: cathartic vocals, built to electric heights until the room was filled with people singing along and pumping their fists. “Hey Rose” mixed honky-tonk licks with evocative lyrics, like “wash your face and change your frame of mind,” and ended with one of those can’t-miss guitar solos from atop the drum riser.

The set list was filled with a mix of tour-sharpened album material, several new songs and a few covers. So their glorious “Halfway to Hardinsburg” came after a tasty Beatles couplet of “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight,” and a new one had them singing about “Mama’s in the kitchen.” The 70-minute set ended in big fashion with a build-’em-up rock-out of “Penitentiary” and a soul-lifting everyone-sings cover of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” with members of opener the Wheeler Brothers helping make big and loud bigger and louder. The band announced they’d return for multiple shows in bigger rooms, for sure, in the winter. So if you have no desire to see one of the best on-the-rise bands going right now, I strongly advise you to not grab tickets for those shows right away.
—A. Stein