Moon Taxi – November 5th – Gothic Theatre

MoonTaxiPhoto by Joshua Wilkins Black

The Scene: November is one of the best months for live music in Denver and this past Thursday night was a perfect example. Nashville-based indie/jam rockers, Moon Taxi, have been touring relentlessly to support their new album Daybreaker and the quintet has seen a steady rise in their Denver fan base since first coming to the Mile High City almost 10 years ago.  As lead singer Trevor Terndrup noted during the performance, one of Moon Taxi’s first gigs in Denver was at Moe’s Original BBQ on South Broadway.  After the show Trevor came outside, saw the Gothic Theatre marquee and said to himself, “One day, Moon Taxi will get to play in a place like that.”  Thursday night was the realization of that dream and a great dream it was.

The brisk autumn air did not detract the Moon Taxi faithful from coming out to see the up-and-coming quintet headline the beautiful theatre. While the concert-goers were mostly contained to the first floor, the floor was packed and buzzing with energy.  Moon Taxi sees a crowd of mostly teens and twenty-somethings that have been exposed to the increased airplay that the band has gotten on radio and television including guest spots on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan.  With the excitement of their first headlining gig at the Gothic and an energetic crowd that was ready to party made for an over-the-top Thursday night.

Moon Taxi:  The first aspect of Moon Taxi that many fans note is their songwriting.  The 2012 release, Cabaret, and the 2013 release, Mountain Beaches Cities, are both filled with radio hits from top to bottom.  Their newest album, Daybreaker, continues the same trend.  This could be heard in the opening songs of “Who’s to Say?” and “All Day and All Night,” both heavy-hitters from Daybreaker.  “River Water” was next and the first song from their 2013 release.  “River Water” provided a mellow breather from the first two rockers before starting “Year Zero” – a contender for the strongest song off Daybreaker.

Moon Taxi began to pick up steam switching up the setlist with songs from their past three albums.  “Mercury,” the first song off Cabaret, gives listeners a sound that is almost identical to Moon Taxi’s Nashville brethren, Kings of Leon.  “Mercury” was followed by the funky Reggae of the title track. “Cabaret” was the jammiest song of the night that many in the jamband scene would appreciate.  It is clear that while Moon Taxi is a radio-play driven machine, they also possess the chops to take their songs out for improvisational rides – albe-them shorter rides than most jambanders are used to.

“Suspicious” from Mountain Beaches Cities brought out the most trance-based grooves from the band.  Their light show would give any stadium light show a run for their money and the heavy dance grooves and lights worked the crowd into a frenzy which culminated in their first cover of the night, David Bowie’s “Fame.” “Fame” saw some fun interplay with the crowd as lead singer Trevor Terndrup took advantage of a new “talk box” and gave us some Peter Frampton flashbacks.

The show finished with two heavy hitters from Mountains Beaches Cities, “Morocco” and “The New Black.”  Trevor continued to play with his Talk Box while throwing in some Daft Punk “Around the World” teases.  The floor was hot, sweaty and bouncing to two of Moon Taxi’s most recognizable hits.  The encore treated us to Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and two Mountain Beaches Cities tracks, “Beaches” and “Running Wild.”

The energy that Moon Taxi can bring is one that stands out among bands their size.  The recognition these guys continue to receive will help them to gain more fans as seen by the growth from their last show in Denver opening for the Austin-based band White Denim at the Bluebird Theatre in 2014.  Moon Taxi is a band that works tirelessly to build fans around the country and Denver is a prime location for steady growth.  A Moon Taxi show is filled with excellent songwriting along with a vigor and determination to win over new fans each and every night.

Energy: A
Musicianship: A-
Sound: B+
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A+

Overall: A