Local band Moon King just dropped their proper full length debut, an album that comes out through Last Gang Records a label made famous by being the home of such bands like Metric, Death From Above 1979 and Purity Ring. The band decided to have a little coming out party, and with the label support and indie buzz behind them they could have played almost any reasonable sized venue in the city and fill it up. Instead the duo consisting of Daniel Woodhead and Maddy Wilde decided to over crowd the Smiling Buddha and play on an impossibly tiny stage. Once you factored in backing band Ewan Kay on guitar and keys and Steven Foster on drums there wasn’t much room for Woodhead to flail around and use his mic stand in a way that would make Freddy Mercury proud. The band came on stage to modest applause either because the crowd thought they were too cool to cheer or that since the packed venue was filled with mostly friends and people who have seen them before didn’t feel the need to hoot and holler. Either way Woodhead repeatedly thanked everyone quickly with a wry smirk across his face.
Moon King’s recorded sound is closer to dream pop in the Beach House territory while when they play live with all the frenzy and reverb soaked guitars they seem to have more in common with shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine. Woodhead in person can come across as shy and non confrontational, but when he is in his element on stage striking warrior poses and using the microphone stand like a jousting stick he is a true rockstar. “I guess this is a release party for our new album Secret Life, and I guess this is the title track,” Woodhead boldly proclaimed. Like all good album release parties there were some local celebrities in the crowd including Woodhead’s brother Airick Woodhead otherwise known as Doldrums, the brothers Woodhead former Spiral Beach bassist (and current Austra member) Dorian Wolf and Boys Who Say No’s Luke Correia-Damude all in attendance.
While Woodhead spent most of his time only singing he did briefly break out a guitar where he promptly broke a string in the very first song he played on. Foster played the drums with a constant pummeling sound propelling the sound forward while not over shadowing the rest of the members. There seemed to be a bit of hesitation in the performance of some of the newer songs with Woodhead trying to pre-apologize by stating “Thanks for learning these songs with us as we learn them.” Even though no apologies were needed as Wilde screamed into the microphone and Woodhead went up in his trademark falsetto to harmonize with her.
The band seemed to have the most energy and confidence in older songs. “This song is Icarus, it’s like an oldie hit,” Woodhead joked as he slammed his foot on a bass pedal to begin the track and the crowd roared with approval. Backup guitarist/keyboardist Kay plays the part of secret backup weapon. His help in crafting the production of the newer songs (along with all his other producing and session work he does for other bands) was very noticeable as he was a steady right hand man keeping everyone on point behind the fun and chaotic main members of the group.
Towards the end of the set when they played the lead single Roswell the very sweaty crowd started a mini mosh pit right up front. While I stood next to the sweaty men and ladies throwing themselves around as I protected my camera from potential abuse I couldn’t help but notice it was one of the most polite mosh pits I have ever seen. Woodhead’s microphone stand kept falling apart on him so he decided to pass it into the audience so it could crowd surf its way to the sound booth and after he himself jumped in to sing amongst people. With such fury and fervor the set ended with a huge tidal wave of noise with a crescendo ringing amps stinging from feedback. The groups fans reveled in the epicenes compacted into only a forty-five minute set. With the group about to embark on a tour opening for Doldrums, whom he himself is getting quite a bit of favourable buzz about his latest project, it is only a matter of time before the group are indie darlings in their own right. I predicted this will be a huge year for them in our site’s own end of the year polls in December and if this set is any indication it seems to be coming to fruition.