It was precisely the sort of charmed evening one might hope for when choosing to have a night life. A close knit, chalkboard-laden, hometown vibe venue, fit perfectly for locals and tourists, on an evening, as singer Gordon of opening band Ichicuts stated, “aided by snowfall; comforting.” Tonight there is an unmistakable energy in the air, as the masses acclimate to the presence of New York’s own, Black Taxi.
Immediately upon arrival I’m greeted at the front of the stage with a briefcase filled to the brim with candy. The sort of candy laden with ghouls and goblins, which, given the time of year, suggests expiration is near. While the candy may or may not have been stale, the gesture was clear, and I can now with all certainty say that I’m excited for the
First to grace the stage, and grace they most certainly did, was New York’s Ichicuts. (Don’t ask, I have no idea and wasn’t brave enough to ask.) A lonely, vulnerable keyboard tone filled the air, while a Christmas light strung, three-piece drum kit set our hearts BPM, and a tiny, almost apprehensive at first, voice filled our hearts. Slowly but surely the two
piece band made its mark, filling the room with electronic, indie, slow-grooving piano funk ballads, deeply heartfelt, mostly dark. Think Black Rebel Motorcycle Club meets The Strokes with a side of Outkast. Which, when chatting with Gordon, the singer after their performance, I learned Outkast is certainly one of his favorite artists and biggest influences (score one for me). He also convinced me to check out BigBoi’s solo album, which, I’ll give you this, not bad.
Breaking their way through a powerful and dare I say soul bearing, intoxicating set, complete with the handing out of candy and even a couple of technical difficulties (which the band trudged through gloriously and professionally), they were hard pressed to break the tension of a crowd awaiting the saccharine sweet sounds of the one they dub Black
In comes the beat, out goes the light, and all eyes all at once turn to the magnetic man with the loudspeaker in hand. No, this isn’t Tom Waits “Chocolate Jesus” though that would have indeed been spectacular. No folks, this was a band with a plan, a plan to set the rhythm of their indie funk jams into the hearts and tappin’ toes of every fan across the
land…This…was Black Taxi.
Saccharine sweet sounds couldn’t have been sweeter as Black Taxi drove their perfectly formulated, hook heavy songs into the hearts of patrons front to back (literally and figuratively) throughout Tommy Doyle’s in Cambridge, MA. In between songs I got to chat with a few of the lovely ladies of the crowd, who had politely and enthusiastically noted that the singer, within the first two songs had already played nine, count em folks, nine different instruments. An impressive way to start a set, no doubt! And even more impressive was their ability to blend all of the different instruments ever so smoothly within a sound landing them somewhere between “Blackened Blue Eyes” by Charlatans UK and “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol.
Their set seemed to have almost been divided into two different identities. The first half brought nothing but heart pumping, foot stomping, catchy songs that hit the sweet spot that bridged the gap between what made the 80′s so much fun, and today’s indie pop so identifiable. The second half of their set relied more on the echoey guitar sounds and
structures reminiscent of early Dandy Warhols and perhaps My Mourning Jacket, and while adding a dynamic to the set overall, did not resonate the same energy and innovative spirit that they’re more funk based material provided. The most exciting moment during the show actually came at the last song of the first half of their set, where the singer broke out what
I described as an alien, robot, Nacho Libre, panda sock puppet mask and quite literally let loose on what was undeniably their heaviest hitting number of the evening.
With the bands set coming to a close, the crowd roared ever so enthusiastically and appreciatively for all of the blood, sugar sex and magic provided by Black Taxi, as Tommy Doyle’s transformed into a dance hall, finding the band members celebrating their victorious performance with the members of the crowd. Who says rock stars don’t make time for their
fans? These guys certainly do.