Houndmouth Concert Review
Houndmouth and Banta
The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
and The Troubadour, Los Angeles
June 23 and 25, 2015
Houndmouth Concert Review
Little Neon Limelight Tour
This past week I was able to kick off the official start of summer by seeing Houndmouth perform two concerts — and what a way to celebrate some summer fun. The first show was at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and two days later I saw them at The Troubador in Los Angeles. Both sold out shows were great and featured the same setlist but their performance in SF was definitely my favorite.
San Francisco June 23
I was absolutely blown away with this show from start to finish. From the venue, to the opening act and of course the main attraction, I was in for a great night. My boyfriend and I ventured upstairs and found seats right above the stage on the right side, which gave us a perfect view of the band’s eccentric stage presence and especially of drummer Shane Cody who proved to be one of the most entertaining parts of the night!
As we waited for the opening act to take the stage, I could hear My Morning Jacket playing in the background as we sipped on some drinks. Soon enough, the Los Angeles based band Banta emerged and started off with some energetic instrumentals, including a keyboard and tambourines, accompanied by some pretty strong female vocals. While I wouldn’t necessarily be able to pull this band’s sound out of a lineup, they sounded good and did a really rad cover of The Velvet Underground song “Pale Blue Eyes”, which was one of two covers we got to hear that night.
The crowd was warmed up and ready for Houndmouth to come on out and no one was disappointed when they emerged. The three guys donned some awesome flared pants that were most likely Katie’s, and had everyone laughing as they strutted on, ready to play. Before the show started, my boyfriend and I guessed what they would open with and thought maybe “Black Gold” since that’s the song we usually open with when we show people their music. Sure enough, the opening chords started to play and they went into “Black Gold”. They moved through their album, Little Neon Limelight, and let out a ton of energy with “15 Years” sung by bassist Zak Appleby.
The band joked around and changed the lyrics in “Comin’ Round Again” from their first album to suit the San Francisco area by singing “Had a couple of drinks in the Tenderloin” instead of in Memphis, and went into an incredibly beautiful version of “Palmyra” off that same album and “Casino (Bad Things)”. Katie drummed along with Shane at the beginning of the song before taking the mic to sing cheeky and rhythmic lyrics.
They went back to Little Neon Limelight playing “Honey Slider” (one of my favorite tracks), and their hit “Sedona” that had the entire crowd singing along before skipping back to some of their older songs. They went into “Hey Rose” that showcased more of their raw, country-blues sound and did a cool slowed down version of the chorus cutting the music and focussing on the vocals before bursting back into the rest of the sound.
They slowed things down with “Darlin” that Shane takes lead vocals on. Katie explained that he writes all the romantic songs when they did this song in Los Angeles two days later, which explains why he sounds so good singing it. The band didn’t keep mellow for long as they went into “Say It” which was such a fun song to sing and dance along to. “Penitentiary” was another treat and Mat Myers explained how it was the first song that the band wrote and recorded.
Everyone quieted when they saw Katie take center stage for “Gasoline”. Her voice was just as haunting and beautiful in this performance as it is on the album. They closed their set with “My Cousin Greg” which we found out in LA is actually written about Matt’s cousin Greg (a rather original title, they jokingly admit). They left us with the reminder that “if you wanna live the good life, you better stay away from the limelight” but I think that might be hard for these four to do as they headed down for their second appearance on the Conan show the next night.
The clapping and cheering didn’t stop from the time they left the stage till the time they came back for their encore. Matt Myers showed off his vocal talent with “For No One” which I had been waiting to hear for most of the night and he changed the lyrics on this one too, from the original “black dawn off in the midnight skies” to “black birds in the pale moon light” which he changed back for the show in LA. They went into “Houston Train” and finished with a cover of the 1961 Dion song “Runaround Sue.” Ordinarily I’m not a big fan of band’s ending on a cover but they totally killed it with this one and still delivered it their signature sound. Overall it was an incredible show and I was excited to see them again in LA two nights later.
Los Angeles June 25
Houndmouth did the same setlist at The Troubadour as they did in San Francisco and though it was still a really good show, I think their performance in SF was the winner. Granted, it was their third night in a row performing and as they mentioned in SF, they had the day off before to drink and play and rest up for the show.
All the spontaneous looking mannerisms they had with jumping onto the drums, shaking into each other, and slowed down improvised singing wasn’t as exciting the second time around because I could tell they had it all pretty rehearsed. But I guess there’s nothing wrong with getting a great show figured out and doing it time after time. And, if I hadn’t seen them earlier in the week I wouldn’t have the comparison to know. They had solid audience engagement both nights but joked around a bit more in LA and were even celebrating Katie’s birthday.
The band has another show in Orange County this weekend at the Observatory in Santa Ana before they get headed back to the Mid West and East Coast for their fall tour. I am looking forward to seeing where these guys go and wouldn’t be surprised to see them at Coachella next year. Keep it up, Houndmouth!