Words by: Bill Clifford | Images by: Robert Chapman
Ha Ha The Moose :: 12.06.08 :: Sullivan Hall :: New York, NY
Side projects allow musicians the freedom to indulge in some of their favorite songs that they might not play with their main gig. Not as well known or publicized as their proper band, side projects also offer musicians the chance to perform at intimate music halls or clubs, in front of small but affectionate crowds similar to when they began performing.
|Jim Loughlin (aka Sludge) :: 12.06|
In the last quarter of 2008 when moe. announced a short break from touring, other opportunities emerged. Guitarist Al Schnier took Al & the Transamericans on the road, playing songs from their new album, This Day & Age (released October 31 on Basemental Records), while drummer Jim Loughlin will perform on NYE with Lynch. But perhaps the most anticipated side project tour was that of Ha Ha The Moose, which takes its name from a toy belonging to one member's kid and whose MySpace page lists their sound as "Regional Mexican/Fusion/German pop."
With the release of their debut EP, Alce En Vivo De Los Muertos, which translates to It Raises Live Of Deads, the band set out on a five date run through the great Northeast. Saturday, the band performed the second of a two night stand at Sullivan Hall in New York City. Billing the shows as "Ha Ha The Moose plays the Geighties" gave the group a chance to pay tribute to some of their favorite one hit wonders and hits from a decade long gone buy.
With the Spandau Ballet's tender ballad "True" playing over the sound system, Dr. Guano (Rob Derhak, bass and vocals), Jeff VonKickAss (Chuck Garvey, guitar and vocals) and Sludge (Jim Loughlin, drums and vocals), sauntered through the gathered mass and graced the stage. Donning capes, wrestling masks and moose lodge lids, the three looked at ease, yet ready for an unconventional evening.
Following a few chuckles with the crowd and a nod in each other's direction, the trio eased into the instrumental Magnum P.I. theme song. Though tightly packed, the crowd began to shift and sway, everyone finding their own groove space.
|Rob Derhak (aka Dr. Guano) :: 12.06|
"We owe you nothing. Buy our CD," noted VonKickAss between songs. "You got a CD, I'll buy it," added Dr. Guano. It was the between song repartee that would be repeated often throughout the performance.
The crowd, mostly in their late-twenties to early-forties, were right in sync with songs such as Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me," singing along with the "Hey, Hey, Hey" chorus, and Men At Work's "Down Under." Befittingly, the classic rock trio performed some classic moe. songs as well. Of particular interest to longtime fans was the spirited delivery of the rarely played "Long Island Girls Rule" and "Don't Fuck With Flo," both tunes inspiring crowd sing-a-longs.
Of course, there were some Ha Ha The Moose songs as well. Dr. Guano, still in a mask and moose hat, brought the tempo down, while the crowd waved their hands in the air. During "Mr. Her," the good doctor enticed the audience to sing-a-long, chuckling, "Just the chicks, that's right..."
Then it was back to the geighties, as VonKickAss led us into a kicking and screaming rendition of Nena's "99 Luftballons," complete with driving, hard-edged guitar, fittingly played on his X-styled guitar. Here you could also make out the mockery and tom foolery of the singing, where at points he belted out, without breaking stride, "Something German, something German, something German."
"You know about Christmas? Well this is dirty Christmas," said Dr. Guano introducing "Christmas Time in Mooseville." This lighthearted Christmas carol contained the lovely chorus, "Everyone was naked/ Around the Christmas tree/ Farting Christmas carols/ All circle jerkily." The "Redneck Trilogy" followed, and the crowd sang along to just about every word. On "In The Name of Freedom," the third part of the trilogy, Sludge's drumming was cadent, steady, and rhythmic. The redneck theme continued on the set closing "Our House," an early-eighties cover originally by a second wave ska band from England called Madness that was largely and surprisingly unrecognized by the crowd.
After a very short break, the trio returned to encore with a somewhat harmony free cover of Dire Straits' "Money 4 Nothing," then their own quirky tribute to moe.'s drummer Vinnie Amico called "Ten Things Vinnie Would Say," and lastly a bookending reprise of the Magnum P.I. theme.
|Ha Ha The Moose :: 12.06|
Side project performances are a rare and unpredictable treat. Saturday night's Ha Ha The Moose performance at Sullivan Hall was entirely unrehearsed, yet it was intimate and engaging. For the band and fans alike, this evening was simply about having a raging, fun time, and judging by the wily smiles on the faces of the fans as we meandered out onto the snow covered NYC streets, it's a sure bet that we all had a damn fine time.
12.06.08 :: Sullivan Hall :: New York, NY
Magnum PI, Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds), Down Under (Men At Work), 88 Lines About 44 Women (Nails), Long Island Girls Rule, Thirsty Carbuncle, Don't Fuck With Flo, Mr. Her, 20 lbs. Of Shit In a 2 lb. Bag, 99 Luftballons (Nena), Christmas Time In Mooseville, Redneck Trilogy, Our House (Madness), Awesome Gary
Encore: Money For Nothing (Dire Straits), 10 Things Vin's Likely To Say, Magnum PI
Continue reading for more pics of Ha Ha The Moose in New York...