Houndmouth: Zak Appleby, Katie Toupin, Matt Myers & Shane Cody
“Kentuckiana” quartet Houndmouth, who are set to play the Orange Peel this Saturday March 5th, have achieved quite a bit of buzz and stardom over what most would consider a short period of time as the band technically only became active back n 2011.
Despite the fact that Houndmouth are now regulars on the summer music festival circuit, are Rough Trade label mates with other rising stars such as Alabama Shakes and are capable of selling out shows as headliners themselves, it wasn’t all that long ago when the band were still regularly playing to 30 and 40 people at any given live show.
So what exactly was the catalyst that helped launch this roots, rock, pop, folk, alt-country, Americana, etc. foursome into stardom? If you’ve ever listened to either of Houndmouth’s studio efforts, 2013’s From the Hills Below the City or last year’s Little Neon Limelight the shortest answer is talent.
Although this may be a gross simplification regarding Houndmouth’s ascendancy the fact remains Matt Myers (vocals/guitar), Katie Toupin (keyboards/vocals), Zak Appelby (bass/vocals) and Shane Cody are all superlative musicians, vocalists and song writers that effortlessly weave sonic tales of heartache, alcohol and drug abuse, love and loss that binds the listener to their music instantly.
That’s not to say the band doesn’t have a sense of humor as even though most of Houndmouth’s music tends to play to darker themes they have a light hearted side that they’re not afraid to display both on record as well as on the lighted stage.
I had the fortune of seeing Houndmouth perform live for the first time toward the beginning of their touring career when by chance I caught the band opening up for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals in February of 2013 at the Rams Head in Baltimore Maryland.
By the end of their performance, which concluded with a cover of The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” which saw all four band members switching instruments, I was immediately convinced they were going to move onto to do great things.
It’s interesting that Houndmouth chose to cover a Band song because right or wrong it’s the band they are most often and somewhat unfairly compared to. Don’t get me wrong there are some similarities regarding the two outfits’ music particularly as it pertains to their four-part harmonies.
However, I think it would be a grievous miscalculation to pigeon hole Houndmouth as sounding like any one particular band or playing within any specific genre because the reality is Houndmouth’s sound encompasses a multitude of genres and their musical palate traverses across a wide variety of soundscapes.
Following my initial indoctrination into the Houndmouth universe I decided to make it a point to see the perform in seven different states and once even up in Canada throughout the course of 2013 and 2014.
Whether it was at IOTA in Arlington, VA, Signal Kitchen in Burlington, VT, the Sons of Herman Hall in Dallas, Texas or the Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine Houndmouth always impressed with the force of their live performance, how genuine they came across on stage and their ability to immediately connect with a crowd of strangers.
Another big takeaway from every live Houndmouth show I’ve ever barred witness to was just how much damn fun the band was having whether there was one person in the audience or two hundred. This feeling of joy always managed to bleed itself into whatever size audience the band was playing to making each and every performance feel unique and warmly intimate.
Back in 2013 I was speaking with Cody after one of the band’s performances and I mentioned to him that I was in town for business but that when I saw that they were playing in the city I spent two-hundred dollars to change my flight back home to catch their show. Upon hearing this Cody turned to me and said, “man that’s the coolest thing anyone has ever said to me about our band.”
A lot has changed for Houndmouth since then as much hipper things than talking to me in a dimly light club at two in the morning have come the band’s way including their being mentioned on nearly every buzz worthy music list you can shake a stick at, guest appearances on Letterman and Conan as well as their playing the likes of both Bonnaroo and Forecastle. I’m okay with this because I’ve never really been all that cool anyway and that fact is Houndmouth has earned this type of praise and success.
Come see and hear for yourself as Houndmouth along with Justin Paul Lewis take to the Orange Peel’s stage this Saturday March 5th starting at 9:00 PM.
Who: Houmdmouth plus Justin Paul Lewis
When: Saturday March 5, 2015 / 9:00 PM
Where: The Orange Peel / 101 Biltmore Avenue Asheville, NC
Cost: $18 advance / $20 day of show