Turkuaz New Year’s Eve The Ball Drop 2018: Recap, Photos & Setlist


Words & Images by: Andrew Bruss

Turkuaz :: 12.31.18 :: The Palladium
Worcester, MA

Turkuaz brought 2018 to a close before a wired up crowd west of Boston with a pair of opening acts that that took time gaining speed but kept its foot on the gas well into the new year. The nine-person ensemble rang in 2016 opening for Dopapod at The Palladium and effectively blew the headliner off the stage, making their return to the same room as headliners this New Year’s Eve all the more appropriate.

EDM/brass/punk trio Too Many Zooz put on an incredibly entertaining performance aided by a frontman who bumped and grinded his way through the crowd while demonstrating the ability to moonwalk as he plays the baritone sax.

While 2MZ had the second slot and a bigger crowd, it was the opening set from paris_monster that literally dropped the jaws of both ticket-holders and Turkuaz members alike. The duo creates a heavily textured sound drawing on ambient electronic experimentation that fuses with R&B vocals and a technically precise execution that feels like watching a magic show. The group’s bassist micromanages the low end while simultaneously engineering the electronic undercurrent of their sound with what appeared to be a custom synthesizer consisting of numerous Eurorack modules sequenced and assembled to be controlled by a mysterious triggering mechanism he kept in a briefcase mounted atop his bass amp. As complex as that sounds, it’s three-chord punk compared to the wizardry carried out by drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Josh Dion. Dion belts out songs with a range that rivals Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon while playing drums with one hand and running his fingers across a DSI MoPho with the other. Plenty of musicians could probably pull this off as a circus trick but Dion’s playing on both instruments was tasteful but far from minimalistic.

Turkuaz took the stage half an hour before midnight, opening with “Coast To Coast” and playing just a few more songs before gearing up for the ball drop with an ironic-yet-on point cover of “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis. Before their set, promoters announced that attendees could get free flutes of champagne at the bar, and as easy (and fair) as it is to rip on Oasis, there wasn’t a person in the building who couldn’t sing along, word for word.

As the clock struck (close to) midnight, the balloons dropped, confetti sprayed, faces were sucked and the band played “Auld Lang Syne” before going into a high energy “If I Ever Fall Asleep” that really highlighted how much vocalists Shira Elias and Sammi Garett bring to the band. Their choreography has a Motown touch that adds an element to the Turkuaz performance unmatched by their funk contemporaries. The pair comes off as sexy without being sexualized which contributes to a dueling charisma which amplifies the bang of what’s already a theatrical performance by funk/jam standards. Vulfpeck may have a better bassist and the keyboard playing of The Motet’s Joey Porter is unrivaled on the funk scene but the contributions of Garett and Elias to an already stellar ensemble is what sets them apart as among the best of the next-generation funk acts with their star on the rise.

The fellas from 2MZ came back to join Turkuaz for a few tunes before Josh Dion got behind the kit to join in on a series of Queen covers that were without a doubt the most memorable moment of the evening. As far as anthem sing-alongs go, “We Will Rock You” into “We Are the Champions” is like shooting fish in a barrel and rounding things out with “Another One Bites the Dust” was an excellent addition as well. You’d be hard pressed not to think “Bohemian Rhapsody” was around the bend but looking back, the heavily segmented epic would have thrown the show’s momentum off and this was a case where keeping it simpler was unquestionably the right call.

Turkuaz’s NYE set wasn’t just a nice send off to the last year, but it was also a sort of homecoming that showed how far they’ve come over the past few years. Not only did they return to The Palladium as the New Year’s Eve headliners, but they curated a bill that gave their bench an added depth that allowed them to really show off the full might of their party-starting superpowers. Neither of their openers was anything like them in a musical sense but all three acts worked together to build momentum throughout the course of the evening that resulted in an event that was much more than any one of its parts. As long as Phish is playing New York City on New Year’s Eve, Turkuaz is going to find it hard to grow the attendance of NYE gigs in the greater Northeast, but if The Ball Drop was a testament to how solid a year Turkuaz had, it left attendees with every reason to believe 2019 has even more in store.


New Year’s Countdown Video | Captured by mwhite10280


Turkuaz at The Palladium

  • Coast to Coast
  • E.Y.E. (Lookin' Good)
  • Make You Famous
  • Future 86
  • Champagne Supernova  
  • Auld lang syne  
  • If I Ever Fall Asleep
  • The Toolbelt
  • The Question
  • Percy Thrills, The Moondog
  • Lady Lovely
  • 20 Dollar Bill  
  • Electric Habitat  
  • On The Run
  • Life In The City
  • We Will Rock You  
  • We Are the Champions  
  • Another One Bites the Dust  
  • Monkey Fingers
  • The Ballad of Castor Troy
  • Back to Normal
  • Bubba Slide