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Tour Review: Black Taxi

posted March 23, 2012, 12:47 pm by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Live Show Reviews | comment Leave a Comment

Tags: Black Taxi, We Don’t Know Any Better


We live in a time of unprecedented access to media. Mobile devices and social networking have forever revolutionized the world and our lives. Just a few short years ago, it still took bands years of hard work, paying dues, and constant and relentless touring to get just a little attention. They still have to work hard and pay dues, but the path and process towards success has evolved thanks to technology.  So it’s no longer uncommon for an artist on the other side of a country or even the world to gain a fan base. That’s how we discovered Black Taxi, a four piece from New York.  We decided to do something different this time, and had 2 different fans attend their show and each write a review.  One had seen them once before, and the other had just recently learned about them a couple of days before.  Here are their accounts:

Photo Credit: Angeleeta Sosnowski

Special Guest Correspondent:  Angeleeta Sosnowski

I am a firm believer in random fun. Random fun (for those who might not know) is the kind of fun that is completely unplanned, exceeds any expectations, and leaves you with fond memories of time well spent. I experienced it recently on a Saturday night at Club Dada in Dallas when I was fortunate to see Black Taxi, an up and coming band out of Brooklyn, NY, thanks to a last minute recommendation. The unsigned pop/rock quartet is currently on tour in support of their second album We Don’t Know Any Better, a record full of fun 80s-ish sounds blended with a Cake/Black Keys vibe.

Photo Credit: Angeleeta Sosnowski

Right from the first song, “Shoeshine”, I knew this would be a good show. Each member of the group was a solid musician, which was a nice change from the opener.   Ezra is a high energy and talented front man who, when not dancing with the crowd, played a wide variety of instruments, ranging from keyboard to trumpet to a Vibraslap. The first big highpoint was “Do What You Gotta Do”, where Bill the guitarist effortlessly took over on vocals.  I hurried over to the bar where my friend sat and pulled him onto the floor where we danced along in earnest. Another fun boogie down point was” Tightrope”, the first track on We Don’t Know.  It’s one of those rare songs that actually sounds better live than on the album. It quickly brought out everyone’s inner Molly Ringwald dance, which was a great show moment.  Soon after the band’s skill as unit was on full display during “Hand”, Bill showed off his dexterity on guitar, Ezra brought out the trumpet again while Jason (on drums) and Krisana (on bass) provided rock solid support.

Photo Credit: Angeleeta Sosnowski

Any good band knows you have to leave the audience with a strong final impression and Black Taxi didn’t disappoint. Reaching back to their first EP, they closed with “Though I’m Down for the Count, Don’t Count Me Out”. A blues infused tune that told the story of attempting to gain redemption for past sins.  By that point, just about everyone in the small but enthusiastic crowd was on their feet dancing and shouting ‘hey’ along with the chorus. After the show, I couldn’t help but think about my friend who saw Muse many years ago at a small venue before they were big.  And that I might be able to say the same thing in a couple of years about Black Taxi.  When I can, I’ll owe it all to random fun.

Photo Credit: Angeleeta Sosnowski

 

Special Guest Correspondent: Mark Lea

Describing genre-bending Black Taxi is tough so just imagine if the Strokes, Talking Heads, Steely Dan and Cake got together for a side project.  Out of Brooklyn, Ezra Huleatt (lead-singer), Bill Mayo (guitar and back-up vocals), Krisana Soponpong (bass) and Jason Holmes (drums) have talent in many different styles and artfully jump from one to another. Opening with a radio-friendly, Strokes-esque “Tightrope,” they set the tone early, but what makes them unique is how they transition from catchy pop, laced with upbeat riffs, to funky bass, interjected with harmonies, and maintain a sense of continuity throughout their set.

Photo Credit: Mark Lea

Ezra Huleatt, the multi-talented lead singer, played a variety of instruments throughout the night (my favorite being the trumpet though the bullhorn was certainly interesting) and had the aura of a star in the making. 3 of the 4 members attended music school, which explains some of the tried-and-true sounds, but also makes sense given the confidence they have to mix styles into a their own sound that takes on a less-clean, less-pop-y level when live. “We Don’t Know Any Better,” the song for which their sophomore album is named, and “Hand” were crowd favorites. The former would fit right in on Cake’s “Comfort Eagle” while the latter is probably the most complete song on the album, or at least captures their versatility most completely. “Becoming” might have been my favorite, in part because it adds Foals to the long list of artists they remind me of, and “Do What You Gotta Do” was another funky crowd-pleaser, especially for Deep Ellum Bob.

While their set was incredible, the crowd was disappointing in terms of size. Bill Mayo says they’ve spent years “doing things the wrong way,” a possible byproduct of not having an agent or company, but that the current tour has shown they’ve work out those kinks. That said, this Dallas show was their least packed compared with sold-out shows elsewhere, though that may be in part to The Bright Light Social Hour, a former touring partner, playing at the same time at a different venue. Luckily they will be back in March and Dallas has one more chance to, as John Peterson, lead singer of Jack Ruby, put it: “see them before you can’t,” a reference to their impending popularity. While getting tickets in the future may become more of a chore, describing them accurately will get easier as one can simply say they sound like Black Taxi.

Opening for them was One Red Martian, a formerly local project that has since transplanted to New York. Heavy rock with piano accents made for an enjoyable sound. I recommend “Terror.”


 

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