Wild Moccasins, Young Mammals Fitzgerald's February 12, 2011
See pics from the Wild Moccs' tour kickoff in our slideshow.
Houston has seen Wild Moccasins plenty of times before, but that doesn't stop the throngs of fans from packing out show after show to see the band's catchy brand of indie pop-rock.
The story was no different at Fitzgerald's Saturday night, where the group kicked off a tour of three dozen European shows in 40 days. Legions of fans came out to see the group off as they churned through a fourteen-song set.
Much to our dismay, Rocks Off arrived to find that we'd just missed Wicked Poseur's set - a local show actually started on time... weird - which several people described with lavish praise. Fitzgerald's upstairs room was shoulder to shoulder with people jostling for prime spots, and the bar was six deep with folks waiting to grab a Lone Star.
Young Mammals (above) turned in a surprisingly brief seven-song set, sounding significantly beefed up thanks to the booming drums of ace Ryan Chavez. Cley Miller's guitar work drenched everything in a psychedelic coating, but underneath the tunes retained their poppy center.
Fitzgerald's sound guys have gotten really, really good at making drums sound epic inside the space, but unfortunately they yet to dial in vocals in the same manner. There's a much greater variance in vocal sounds and stylings than in drums, sure, but both bands we saw Saturday suffered a bit from vocals that could've used some adjustments. It's not that the performances were bad, but the mix would have improved.
Around 11:30 p.m., the Moccasins came on to the delight of the jam-packed crowd, with Zahira Gutierrez dashing out from the side of the stage just in time to start the opening words of "Zylophone." Over the course of an hour, they rolled and swayed through 14 songs, including everything from Skin Collision Past and most of debut EP Microscopic Metronomes.
After trotting out "Zylophone," "Skin Collision Past," and "My Favorites Die," the band settled into a new number that lay in a sexy '60s slink, with plenty of sparkle on top. It harkened back to some of the darker ye-ye music we've heard, which in turn made us speculate about French kids bopping around, coming up to the Houston quintet after the show and declaring them "super-cool, formidable, et magnifique."
The familiar psychedelic and garages tones were present in the Moccasins' songs, but steadily giving way to traces of '80s glam. Big echo choruses rang out over the drums, and as we stood near the stage, we heard a new song was referenced as "80s Song" by Gutierrez. The number borrowed heavily from When In Rome's "The Promise," screaming for use in a John Hughes montage, but laced with the playful yet serious lyrical tone the Moccasins have developed.
As expected, the band rolled out some stage-show theatrics, with confetti and balloons raining upon the masses thanks to some supporting crew. While they may not need cannons, gigantic balloons or a crowd-surfing bubble, it's nice to see some locals taking a page from the Flaming Lips and embracing the fact that concerts like this are meant to be fun.
The crowd was certainly in a spirit of revelry, as an ocean of young Houstonians flowed back and forth in front of the stage. A swarming mass bounced around on the floor, and those uninterested had little choice but to join due to the momentum of the sea of people.
Song after familiar song had many singing along, and when the quintet finally walked off stage at the end of the set, the mob demanded an encore. The group happily obliged, offering up "Mailman."
With everyone upstairs and down craning their necks to see the band, it sometimes seems that the Moccasins have little left to prove to Houston. But then Aftermath's mind starts to drift to all the things in store for the band, all the larger acclaim and accomplishments that are greater than successfully packing out show after show in our fair city.
The Moccasins' catchy debut caught the ear of New West Records, landing them a spot on the label. They've successfully toured both coasts. Now, it seems, the Moccasins are poised to conquer the Old World, showering it in their spangly indie-rock and almost certainly returning as beloved ambassadors of Houston.
Personal Bias: I get pretty excited by Houston bands doing bigger and better things - especially if that means being brave enough to play three-dozen shows in Europe.
The Crowd: Heaps of young hip Houstonians, including members of more than a few talented young bands in town and New West president George Fontaine.
Overheard In the Crowd: "It's like some hippie love explosion - fueled by hormones and birth control glasses."
Random Notebook Dump: The newly minted New West repressing of Skin Collision Past and the Microscopic Metronomes tracks will be awaiting the band when they arrive overseas.
Zylophone Skin Collision Past My Favorites Die [New Song] Born Blonde Cake "80s Song" Fruit Tea Psychic China Shiny Strings Calendar Its Health & My Own Late Night Television Spanish And Jazz
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