By Timothy Beeman II
When Black Taxi comes to The Garage, owner Tucker Tharpe gets excited. Why? For one, he knows he’s going to have a good crowd – a very good crowd. Another reason? He’s a huge fan. Well, guess what… Black Taxi came to town on Friday, March 21, 2014.
Black Taxi is a high-energy four-piece band from Brooklyn. Yes, that Brooklyn. There were some NYC boys in the house that night. Krisana Soponpong on bass and bass synths kept the bottom end squarely in the lower registers and the floor, and the back of the bar, shook wonderfully. His non-pedaling bass lines were a backbone of Black Taxi’s groove. Drummer Danny Gould kept a thunderous beat and as far the audience could tell, he kicked himself out of a kick pedal at one point; more on that later. This was Danny’s first tour with the band.
Guitarist Bill Mayo played many a funk/groove/disco-pop rhythm that would make Nile Rodgers smile and nod. He also held down half the vocal duties. His range wasn’t through the roof but it was definitely more than adequate for what they set out to do. Then comes the hardest-working man of the night: Ezra Huleatt. Not only was Ezra the other half of the vocal duo, he also played keyboards/piano, trumpet (which he made sound like a sax in some instances), tambourine, and a megaphone. More often than not, megaphones tend to wander into “cheese” territory, but not in this case. It was certainly complimentary to the points he was trying to sell. He did all this while still bouncing around the stage, never skipping a beat, and never getting winded. An excellent performer he was.
The show itself was high-energy, the sound was entirely explosive and the band quite tight. The professional tone from the band (surely enhanced by Brian Doub’s brilliant soundboard wizardry) was akin to something you’d see on Carson Daly’s late night show. New, fresh, modern music that flows and makes you want more. The keyboard-laden foundation of the music with artfully placed guitar work lent the newbie to Black Taxi a Muse-like quality while also keeping an air of Daft Punk, whom, by the way, they covered via “Get Lucky.”
Black Taxi never stopped punching the audience in the face. That is, as long as the kick pedal was operational. During the song “It’s a Ball” (incidentally, the featured song on The Less Desirables this past week), Gould somehow incapacitated the kick pedal. The final 90 seconds of the song was kept in beat by the audience clapping and stomping; certainly not giving up on the band. It took mere minutes to have that puppy back to fully operational. The energy of Black Taxi live is far more evident than on their albums and studio recordings, although that should not be taken as a slight. They’re still very good on their recordings. Something just steps up in the live setting, especially in songs like “Shoeshine,” “Hands,” and “House on Fire.”
This was one of the final stops on the tour that the band has been staging including a stint at the popular SXSW festival in Austin last week. Mayo offered that The Garage was one of their favorite venues and the crowd was one their favorites of the tour. I must concur that it is a great place to see a show, particularly when the band loves playing there. And the audience loved watching Black Taxi. Again, seeing them live is an experience all its own, one not to be missed.