Overheard in the crowd: "He kind of sounds like Darius Rucker. But I also kind of feel like it's Dave Chappelle playing a joke on me." (On the Horde and the Harem's Noble Monyei)
I don't think I've ever witnessed the idea of "go big or go home," executed to quite the same level as I did, on stage, at the Typhoon show Saturday night.
For those who've yet to see the Portland-based act live, it's an experience: 11 musicians creating intricately crafted indie rock that's boisterous and energetic and full of feelings. And for those who've already seen them, it's more than enough to have you jumping the next train to catch them again.
Fronted by lead singer and guitarist Kyle Morton, Typhoon produces a wall of beautifully complicated orchestral folk noise that combines stirring vocals, rhythmic guitars, horns, multiple drum kits, and strings. music for people with heavy hearts and unkempt facial hair.
Both sad and celebratory, Morton's melancholy lyrics are what tie it all together. But the layered instrumentation, rich harmonies and upbeat arrangements are the lifeblood that keeps you entranced.
On paper, everything about this band is wrong. It's just too much. The strings should feel out of place, the percussion should be overbearing and the vocals should be lost. Yet the collective has mastered the art of moderation - showcasing all the right sounds at all the right moments. And in doing so, have created glimpses of perfection that work seamlessly together to create something extraordinary.
Opening acts Lost Lander and the Horde and the Harem proved welcome additions to the familial vibe of the night - keeping with the theme of cooperative creativity and musical whimsy.
This being the first time I've seen the Horde live, I was more than impressed by the five piece's woods-y, folk sound--especially Noble Monyei's rich, gruff baritone. Like headliners Typhoon, the Horde has the peculiar ability to sound cohesive while existing in a ravenous sea of instrumentation. But Monyei's voice is the glowing light - guiding everything else to exactly where it needs to be.
An especially poignant moment came on "Lose You Now," a punchy track from the group's most recent release, A Long Midwinter, which finds Monyei sparring poetically with band mate Ryan Barber. It's playful and catchy - and when Barber coos, "why can't I rearrange your face?" it's hard to hold back a laugh.