VIENNA, Va., May 14, 2012 — Black Taxi front man Ezra Huleatt has a serious problem staying still for any reasonable amount of time. Asking Huleatt to keep himself within the basic boundaries of his keyboard for more than one song during Black Taxi’s set Tuesday would have been a lot to ask for. His genuine and sometimes spastic energy set the tone for the band during their appearance at DC9.
Huleatt was bouncing on his seat at the keyboard, randomly playing the trumpet, just vibrating while singing, or wandering through the crowd hitting a cowbell. Conveniently, he ended up defining the stage presence and music sensibilities of Black Taxi by remaining in constant motion. The band itself refused to be confined to one spot, either on the stage or in the expectations of what an indie band is supposed to sound like.
Musically, Black Taxi is all over the map as well, attempting to rein in several different like-minded styles through the prism of their dance-inflected indie pop sensibilities. It works for the most part mainly because they keep everything tight and grounded without reaching too far.
Certain bands have a tendency to mix in as many of their musical interests as they can, with only a cursory glance at whether these influences will coalesce into a coherent sound. A lot of the time, interesting results can arise from this approach, and a band will accidentally stumble on to something, which hasn’t occurred to anyone else. A more likely result is that a band’s sound will fly off in so many different directions that is loses focus along with the audience’s interest.
The key for a lot of bands is to keep things as simple as possible. This is something Black Taxi does as well as anyone. It’s important for any band playing a pop style not to overstay their welcome on any one song. This band never lingers long enough for the audience to get bored or even a little tired, because it’s easy to see if the band played for too long, the value of their songs value would diminish while draining and fatiguing the audience.
Fortunately, Black Taxi is all about inflicting as much energy and fun on the audience as possible. All of this extends from Huleatt and his antics. His attitude is absolutely infectious, flowing from the stage right into the audience. Black Taxi itself is also unafraid to throw in whatever quirky musical offshoot they feel might attract attention. For much of their set, this gives them a nervous and anxious energy that seems to border on insecurity, while at the same time making them absolutely endearing.
Black Taxi’s not reinventing the wheel with their indie pop sound, which in reality is a tough thing to do. Plenty of bands have done the ‘80s post-punk dance inflected sound. Ultimately, their stylistic influences matter very little during their live performance; they just want people move at any cost. They don’t know any better.
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