Show Review: Houndmouth @ Royale 9.19.15

by Matt Sherman (Business), published October 2nd 2015

photos by Matt Sherman (Business)

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It was a cross-country road trip with colorful characters, woes, regrets, raucous good times and reflection. It was 21st century outlaws running moonshine past the county line love songs, abuzz with southern euphemisms and odes to the Maryann’s and the Otis’. It was a carousel of different leading vocals linked by an Apache handwoven quilt of harmonies. This was the night with Houndmouth and it was joyous. Houndmouth is a four piece group comprised of Matt Myers on vocals and guitar, Katie Toupin on keys, Shane Cody on drums and Zak Appleby on bass. While Houndmouth harmonizes on every song, vocals are mainly shared between Myers and Toupin. Their narrative ballads are the Old West transplanted to the present and equipped with the right amount of soul and melody to keep feet restless and heads on a spring.

Opening for Houndmouth were Louisville, Ky. natives Twin Limb, who played an ambient, psychedelic folk revue that included the best use of an accordion I’ve seen since 1985. “My cousin Greg is a greedy son of a bitch!” were the first words heard from Houndmouth. Myers, manning the lead vocals and guitar, commanded the mic with a melodic voice with just enough gravel in it to provide a bite. It’s a voice that can sing soulful love songs, then turn and give you accounts of stagecoach robberies. Houndmouth started with “My Cousin Greg,” a sprawling chronicle in which each band member provides a verse melding into four-part harmonies. They then rambled along the set list of their March 2015 release /Little Neon Limelight/, peppering in tunes from their first LP, 2013’s From the Hills Below the City and choice others.

Myers let the packed house know this was the first headlining show of their 32-stop tour, but of course anointed us “their favorite crowd yet.” On the stage, it was a party, with PBR and Patron. The connection between the band members was never more evident than when, having heard the crowd singing every word of their songs, they met eyes with looks of incredulity. Shaking his head and laughing with disbelief, Myers turned back to the crowd and sang along. The crowd was the fifth member of the band finishing verses, accompanying choruses and yelling out punch lines. At one point Cody welcomed his mother in front of the crowd to uproarious applause, because, no doubt, there were many mothers in the crowd.

After rotating the Patron, the band continued with a set list including notable tasty jams such as the bluegrass and rockabilly infused “15 Years,” the heart melting “Gasoline” performed by a solo Toupin and what has become their paramount manifest destiny ode to Arizona, “Sedona.” By the time the set was done it was evident to both the crowd and the band that neither wanted to stop. Even when the band left for the green room, the crowd stood firm. After maybe one minute and forty-five seconds, the band tramped back on stage and got down to business with a four song encore, capped off with a monumental rendition of Dion’s 1961 hit “Runaround Sue.” After bringing out Twin Limb, Toupin serenaded over the opening licks and what followed felt like a communal odyssey back in time. Elation came in the form of handclaps, echoing voices and a unifying vibration in everyone’s chest cavity. Houndmouth then deconstructed the song into a jammy blues-rock statement, the ending of which brought everyone back to the present and left us all in a satisfied puddle on the Royale ballroom floor.

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