Let me be the first to say, I am by no means a jam band connoisseur or even a casual fan at best. Bands like Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic, Phish, or even the Grateful Dead aren’t remotely part of my personal musical lexicon. To give you the extent – the closest thing I’d consider to my foremost ‘jam band experience’ up to this point would have been seeing Pearl Jam doing a raucous fifteen minute cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Going into the Moon Taxi show, I’d be remiss to not mention that I was a bit hesitant. I had checked out their music online and was already familiar with the style and talents going in, so at the very least there wasn’t going to be any outright disappointment. Instead, on the flip-side, the show was an overall pleasant surprise. Thursday night’s show at Tipitina’s marked the first time Moon Taxi had ever played the legendary music venue as well as both opening bands, Coyotes and Frontier Ruckus.
New Orleans’ own Coyotes had the honor and daunting task of opening up the evening’s show. The trio, although only formed in 2010, commanded the stage and looked like seasoned veterans while doing so. The small crowd was appreciative of their efforts and enthusiastically cheered the band as they wrapped up their set, which was a combination of material from the current EP, Good Times Old, as well as new material yet-to-be-recorded.
After a quick turnaround, Frontier Ruckus took the stage and tuned up, to which lead singer Matthew Milia joked about being embarrassed that we had to see that. The Americana-Folk band sprawled across Tip’s entire stage and made great use of the space. The set was mainly composed of material from their double LP Eternity of Dimming which came out this year. The highlight of the set was a unique banjo and saw cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The band was also thrilled to be playing Tipitina’s and the audience was grateful and attentive during the amazing and enjoyable set.
Next up was the evening’s main event Moon Taxi who, much like their openers, were extremely happy and excited to be playing Tipitina’s after nearly a decade of touring. The band had previously appeared in NOLA during last year’s Final Four for a late night show at The Maison.
To say the band was energetic would be a massive understatement. Initial impressions of the live set were to me, “What if Jamiroquai and Joe Satriani had a love child?” The space/jungle jam and vocally-powered music had a better and more far-reaching power than the recordings I had listened to. The band also played several new and yet-to-be-recorded tracks which included, “Change,” “Suspicious,” “Running Wild,” and my favorite “Silent Underground.” The new material was in step with the rest of the songs that were played. The main set ended with an amazing rendition of “Mercury,” the opening track from their most recent full-length Cabaret. After a few minutes, the band came back to the stage to finish off the evening with a couple more tracks.
Throughout the set, the audience was having a blast. The floor wasn’t overly packed and it was thus very comfortable to get around, in many ways helping with the overall enjoyment of the set. The nice thing about the jam sessions that were present was the fact that they actually seemed to have form and a logical conclusion and not lift off aimlessly into an abyss as many-a-jam session tend to do. I’m still not a jam band fan per se, but wouldn’t hesitate to come back and catch another set from Moon Taxi, who offered a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort music zone.