I showed up to the Historic Scoot Inn pretty early. The doors opened up an hour before the show started, and when I first walked in there were probably seven people besides myself, barkeep not included. The lack of patrons, combined with the total of two very small tables, made the place seem pretty bleak to start with, but I was sure it would fill soon.
Fortunately, people started showing up pretty quickly. I myself couldn’t get a beer, so I grabbed an energy drink instead, disappointed by the absolute absence of soda pop in the establishment. Then, drinking my roughly 14,000,000,000 milligrams of sugar and trying to learn how to use my rental camera, I looked around for someone important to talk to about Taylor and the Wild Now.
Taylor (and the Wild Now as well) showed up early, and I was able to introduce myself to her directly. I asked if I could get some quick pictures of her and her bandmates outside, and so I followed the entirety of T&WN plus one guest guitarist outside for some group pictures.
The Scoot Inn has a great outdoor setup as well as a solid indoor arrangement (if you like standing), but it looked pretty bleak that night. It probably wasn’t 50 degrees outside, and the only people not within the dimly lit bar were the band, several smokers and myself.
By this time the show had finally rolled around. The first band to play, Yuma, was a group that I myself had never heard, but I was instantly in love. Yuma is a four piece funk/folk/space rock group that comprises Jesse on vocals and guitar, Andrew on bass, Alex on keyboard and Tyler on drums. Their music was sincere, loud and definitely danceable. Their stage presence was also really something to watch. Jesse waited until he was about to perform to remove his salmon oxford shirt and replace it with an extravagant fur jacket. Already visually reminiscent of David Byrne in the old days, the jacket helped to cement their very individual atmosphere. After the show, Tyler was excited to tell me that while this was their last show, they had material prepared for Free Week (in January), and they have an upcoming show at Stubbs in February. I was also very excited.
Playing after Yuma was the headliner Taylor and the Wild Now, the reason for most of the crowd to come out. T&WN is usually made up of Taylor Baker herself, playing guitar sometimes and singing always, her boyfriend Drew Walker on guitar and backup vocals, and drummers and bassists have varied. Their special guest, who introduced himself as Wes, also played guitar. Wes was as mysterious as he was skilled on the guitar: very. With incredibly nimble fingerwork, Wes made it clear that while he was not a regular, he could definitely earn his keep in the band. The songs that Taylor and Drew write, combined with Taylor’s beautiful voice, brought to my mind the sort of neo-swing band The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, emphasized especially by Drew’s surprise trumpet affinity for the trumpet, which made itself known in the latter half of the show. Another artist that shares a similar sound is the vocalist Elle King, whose Ex’s and Oh’s you’ve surely all heard by now.
Taylor and the Wild Now also performed a stunning surprise cover of the Alabama Shakes’s “Hold On,” accentuated by Taylor’s soulful voice. They closed the show with an unreleased track that had only been heard live (or presumably in a recording studio by a record executive) and a performance of their new song “Gold Dust,” the titular track of their newest album. For this they asked that the crowd howled or bark instead of applaud.
After I congratulated her on an excellent performance, Taylor made sure to tell me to watch the next group closely, one that she called amazing. MCG is a band that, while certainly producing the same vein of music as T&TWN, managed to bring a sound all their own. MCG consists of Mariclaire Gamble on vocals and keyboard, David Tenczar on guitar and vocals, Jay Cesak on bass, Andrew Bennett on not only guitar but synth and vocals as well, and Drew Silverman on drums. MCG, Andrew assured me, stands for “mega cat grenades,” but I wasn’t necessarily convinced.
MCG had an incredible presence on stage. Nearly the entire time they played, Silverman’s eyes seemed to pop out of his head, and his face was frozen in an open-mouthed grin. He told me after the show that, despite his expression (and his performance) he actually felt very ill, and was even missing a very important part of his drumkit. Through the whole show, Cesak moved across the stage, frequently throwing his bass guitar into the air, occasionally bumping into one of his bandmates (though they didn’t miss a beat), and playing fret-to-fret, chest to chest with both Bennett and Tenczar. Tenczar threw his head this way and that, and while easily the most dressed up of the band (he wore a suit the whole time), he didn’t let it compromise his mobility. All of this was punctuated by the very animate Gamble, whose illustrative hand movements added an extra touch to her singing. They ended their set, and began to get off stage — then the crowd began to chant.
In a surprise grande finale, MCG was denied the right to pack up and go home as cries of, “One more song! One more song!” shook the room, and Bennett wasted no time in unpacking his guitar and climbing back on stage. For a final live cover performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” Gamble called her close friend Taylor Baker on stage for the last performance of the night. By the end, everyone, myself included, was singing along.