Typhoon – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 27, 2018
“My friends, how are you?” inquired frontman Kyle Morton of the Music Hall of Williamsburg audience as Typhoon took the stage. The outsize band with an outsize sound before a sold-out room on a Saturday night somehow immediately turned the show small and intimate. That was the mood of the evening, big swells of sound coupled with moments of quiet introspection. To pull it off, the sound needed to be just right—each lyric as important to hear as the swaths of violin and guitars winding their way through an ecstatic two-drummer rhythm section. With their dedicated sound system taking up valuable real estate in the middle of the packed room, this was not a problem. So when they opened with “Common Sentiments,” off the 2013 release White Lighter, lines like “I began hearing these voices in the dial tone” were as clear as Shannon Steele’s emotive violin playing, with the crowd already singing along to make the band feel even bigger.
At times Typhoon felt like a big folk band that had fallen, comic book–style, into a vat of acid, taking on superhuman strength in the process. “Hunger and Thirst” was explosive in its two-guitar-two-drummer chug. Other times, they were more like a prog-rock band with plainspoken, poetic lyrics, complex orchestral dynamics paired with a heavy dose of humanity. Despite a brand new album, Offerings, just a few weeks out of the bag, the set list was democratic in its selections from the band’s history. Regardless of new or old, the audience was eager to participate, dancing, singing and clapping along at the right moment, calling out requests in anticipation of the next song.
The band goofed on starting “Possible Deaths” over and over again throughout the set, half tease and half prank as a nice change of pace for a group whose music feels quite serious all of the time. The set found its powerful climax with “Empircist,” off the new record, everything about the preceding set, rolled into one piece. Morton and Co. paired quiet and loud, big and small, heavy rock with beautiful violin melodies and moved through multiple sections, each their own composition, the crowd singing along at times, at others taking in lyrics like “So blow out your past lives like they’re candles on the cake” clear and as intimate as a “How are you?” from a friend. —A. Stein | @Neddyo