Indiana-based blues/rock band Houndmouth performed three shows in an intimate venue in downtown NOLA. Suddenly, I love Houndmouth even more.
Stream: “McKenzie” – Houndmouth
Since moving to New Orleans a few years back, my absolute favorite part of living here has been the music scene.
This should come as no surprise, as NOLA is known far and wide for its legendary music venues and, of course, for being the home of jazz. Living here has given me access to a wide array of music and entertainment that is entirely new to me, and it has broadened my musical horizons considerably. It has also allowed me to revisit some old favorites if they happen to roll into town (and luckily for me, they often do). When I heard that Houndmouth – an alternative blues/rock band from Indiana – were playing three shows downtown, I knew I had to be there.
Houndmouth set off on their 1 Night 2 Night 3 Night Tour in late September, cruising into venues across America and performing at each for three nights in a row. In early November, they performed at Toulouse Theater in the lively French Quarter in downtown New Orleans (a famous neighborhood renowned for its music, history, food, and culture) and I was lucky enough to be in attendance for their second performance.
The band came out of the gate with their song “Darlin’”, a yearning, emotional anthem from their 2015 album Little Neon Limelight.
Darlin’, darlin’, darlin’
Why don’t you sleep at night?
The colder the heart
The warmer the gun
“Darlin’” is one of their slower tunes and it was a great choice to start the show as it enabled them to build toward their faster-paced, rock-leaning tracks in their catalog. It is also one of their more recognizable songs, so the crowd was immediately engaged.
Everyone in the intimate venue knew all of the lyrics and loudly sang along, filling the theater with the palpable electricity that only good music can produce. Toulouse Theater was the perfect venue for this show, featuring an entryway equipped with a bar leading into the mezzanine area; an open floor space with yet another bar and a large stage at the far end. The sound filled the room completely, and it was easy to get up close to the stage despite the substantial crowd. The performance I attended was the only time they kicked off their set with “Darlin’” throughout their shows in New Orleans, and I was so glad I happened to choose the second night to see them perform. It was the perfect way to set the tone of their show, and the venue was filled with a sense of camaraderie from the very first notes of the song.
The performance lasted about 90 minutes, featuring an array of tracks from across their studio albums. The crowd enjoyed the concert in typical New Orleans fashion: Dancing, drinking, and enjoying some awesome music. I cannot emphasize enough the sense of community I felt within that theater. Houndmouth truly brought people together, even if just for a short period of time. If I had to make a critique (and I am really nit-picking here), it would be that many of their songs have a very similar sound, making the middle portion of the show a tad monotonous and a bit of a blur. It did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the concert whatsoever, but I do think it is worth mentioning.
There were a few standouts that really caught my attention, including their performances of “McKenzie” and “Miracle Mile” from their 2021 album Good For You and “My Cousin Greg” from Little Neon Limelight. “My Cousin Greg” is a really fun track with funky lyrics, incorporating all of the band members’ voices and instruments in a really interesting and unique way.
Where’d one of your shoes go
He looked at me and said
That’s not important
Please don’t you point
Your photon ray gun at me
If anyone’s attention had drifted away, it was drawn immediately back to the stage by this performance.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the night was the encore, when they performed “Sedona,” their most popular track – and the one that introduced me and many others to Houndmouth, serving as a gateway to their catalog. Folk, blues, and rock n’ roll come together to create a song that is impossible not to enjoy, which was reflected by the crowd’s extremely positive response. When the recognizable riff that threads throughout the track began to play, everyone in the theater whooped and cheered. At this moment, Houndmouth had the crowd in the palm of their hand. It is safe to say they delivered with their rousing rendition of a fan favorite, bringing the audience together for their final tune of the night. When they reached the bridge, the crowd nearly drowned them out as we all chanted along to the lyrics:
“Hey there Sedona let me cut you a deal
I’m a little hung over
and I may have to steal your soul”
“Sedona ” was an incredibly satisfying way to end the show, leaving everyone in the audience with that post-concert high that truly reminds us music-lovers of our reason for living. While this may sound a touch dramatic, anyone who has ever fallen in love with live music knows exactly what I mean.
I can say with full confidence that Houndmouth’s performance exceeded my expectations.
I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to see them perform in such a humble venue in a city steeped in musical history. New Orleans has an extremely high bar for musical performances, and Houndmouth met it with ease. All the vocals, harmonies, and instrumentals sounded exactly like their studio versions except, imbued with the energy of the band and the crowd, they were infinitely better. I walked out of Toulouse Theater wishing I had attended all three of their performances in New Orleans, but I guess I’ll have to wait until they come ’round again.
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:: Stream Houndmouth ::