Moon Hooch - "Megatube feat. Alena Spanger" | Music 2014 | SXSW

February 7, 2014
The reaction is instantaneous. It doesn't even matter when they're the opening act no one in the room has heard before -- as soon as Moon Hooch starts playing, it's as if the room becomes a living, surging, pulsing thing. They call it "cave music": like house music, but more primitive and jagged and raw. But there are no DJs or manufactured beats here -- just one drum kit and two saxophones. Moon Hooch -- saxophonists Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler -- met while all three were students at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. They found in each other a similar drive to work hard, practice, and create new, unusual sounds with their instruments. They first played in the summer of 2010, busking in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Later that summer, the band set up to play on the L train subway platform at Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. Above ground and a few blocks way, Modest Mouse was playing a concert at the Williamsburg Waterfront, which was rained out just a few songs in; hundreds of hungry music fans flooded the subway and stumbled upon Moon Hooch -- initiating an impromptu underground rave, along with a habit of having their platform parties shut down by the police. (They've since been banned from playing in the Bedford station by a weary NYPD. Fortunately, there are plenty of other, friendlier stations... for now.) The "cave music" sound developed around an organic approach to playing electronic dance music. The looping, frenetic sax melodies and James's furious drumming are fierce and trance-like, as Mike and Wenzl rock back and forth, pushing and pulling each other from across the stage. Sometimes Wenzl switches over to a contrabass clarinet, or inserts a long cardboard tube into the bell of his sax to create the deep, throbbing womp of a dubstep bassline. It's manic, and thrilling, and perhaps a little bit evil. One time, someone hollered at them between songs, "What are you called?" The trio didn't have a name yet, but Mike blurted out "MOON JUICE!" It seemed like a good fit, until they Googled the name and found a number of other bands were already using it, so a few minutes of thesaurus-diving yielded a suitable synonym for "juice," and Moon Hooch was born.
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