Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Show review: Moon Furies at Double Door, 12/2

By Gene Wagendorf III

Moon Furies blasting out "Sun Burnt Love"
Former Chicago residents/current Brooklynites Moon Furies returned home Friday night for the first time since completing their 100 Shows in 100 Days charity marathon this past summer. Armed with a new drummer and a batch of fresh songs, not to mention matching turquoise pants, the band looked... snug. Energy was abundant from the get-go as the trio blasted off with "Way Down," from their 2011 release Mercury. The track found vocalists Andy Kiel and Jim Wittmann snapping trundling rhymes at each other over fizzing synth lines while gyrating to dance beats.

Moon Furies have never been short on catchy hooks, and the new material played Saturday proved that their load was not blown on record one. The first such cut found more of Kiel's flow snaking around a curvy synthesizer lead and clattering drum work by aforementioned newcomer Pat McAvena. Later, it was Kiel's guitar that took center stage on a new tune, slapping a zaftig crunch on some shadowbox percussion. A bit more bite than what I'd come to expect from Moon Furies, and something that a less confident group might have botched. Smooth electro-pop bands can get themselves into trouble when they drop the slick and get a little dirty, but here it worked, and with the right production it could be damned refreshing on a record.

Kiel and McAvena jamming
 Despite a joke about the song's subject (a "bitch"), "Look At Me" stood out as being the urgent feeling song of the night, a result of a desperate-to-celebratory vocal turn and McAvena's mountainous crashing and thumping. The audio orgasm came courtesy of Wittmann, who dropped to his knees and wailed on his trumpet like he was trying to punch a hole in the roof with pure sound. "Sun Burnt Love" provided a nice moment, and proved that all breakups aren't ugly, as the band invited former drummer Andrew Hertzberg onstage to jam. The song benefited from the dual percussion, as well as Wittmann's raspy vocals. As if determined to blow his lungs out, he picked the horn up again and wandered through the Double Door, whirling out the opening notes of "Fallen" before springing back on the stage. Watching he and Kiel boogie through the set, I couldn't help but wonder if a part of them wished they could opt out of Moon Furies as well, at least for a night, so that they could spend more time dancing with the audience.

That unasked question was answered at the close of the set, when the band debuted their video for "Mercury 13" and played along with it. Its slow build exploded into what I've previously praised as being their most euphonic hook, making the song both undeniable danceable and emotionally gripping. All three members of Moon Furies looked to be on cloud nine during it, which is probably only a few million miles lower than where they're aiming. Most of the crowd bopped along blissfully as Kiel and Wittmann harmonized on the line we cannot lose/ we were born to win. Well, they almost got it right. I'm thinking that this band is what they were born to do. Here's to winning.

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