New Yorkers and self described ‘Brass House’ trio Too Many Zooz hit The Sugar Club on Saturday night for the first of two sold out shows in the capital as part of the Becks Rhythm Series. The former buskers haven’t been around that long, but in a short time have racked up a legion of followers after a video of them performing their unorthodox brand of electro-acoustic tunes in a New York subway station went Viral in 2014.
Since then the group have been extremely prolific, recording and releasing 4 EP’s, 6 Singles and a full length album entitled ‘Subway Gawds’. They’ve also toured extensively and even collaborated with Beyoncé at the CMA Awards. Not too shabby!
Support on the night came from Dublin Neo-soul outfit Akora. Having been acquainted with the musical stylings of most of the members (they’re some of the sickest session players in town), this was my first time seeing their new venture live and boy am I happy I did. There are some serious songwriting chops on show here. The kind of complex layered music that takes years of practice to make look this effortless. The bass and drums provide a rock solid foundation for guitars and keys to riff over, while lead singer Ciara O’Connor ‘s vocals drive through the tracks, subtly filling the sonic gaps in the soundscape. The set encompassed elements of soul, electronica, RnB and breakbeats all blended together skilfully into an entirely separate beast. Check these guys out live as soon as you get the opportunity. For now head over to their Breaking Tunes page and listen to their demos, which are as polished and well written as any tracks you’ll find blasting through the radio.
Too Many Zooz arrived like returning heroes to cheers and screams from the assembled crowd. They wasted no time, bursting in to a set of hi-tempo tracks that really showed off the level of skill all three virtuosos posses on their instruments. Drummer David “King of Sludge” Parks is a bonafide human metronome, knocking out ridiculously precise and complex rhythms at a breakneck speed. This would be enough to make your jaw drop, but when it’s combined with the speed and precision of Matt Doe’s trumpet solos and the note perfect groove of Leo Pellegrino’s baritone sax it’s pretty unbelievable. These cats can BLOW!
Leo combines this skill with some pretty killer dance moves throughout the set, bouncing and sliding across the stage at a near constant pace, somehow never missing a beat on the sax. Their stage presence is palpable. The whole scene is a lot of fun and the crowd are loving it! Every single person is on their feet by the 3rd or 4th song, including the mostly seated sections of the venue. Joining in is pretty irresistible. They fill a surprising amount of sonic real estate for such a small group with the trumpet covering the high end and the sax acting like a bass guitar/synth, all the while driving forward with an eclectic mix of percussive sounds and rhythms.
One criticism I would level is that the tracks can become a bit repetitive. It’s difficult to maintain this mardi-gras level of excitement for an hour plus show, but that could just be me. The energy on stage never dips once. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the music takes to stand the test of time, whether more members will join or some texture will be added with backing tracks. Although it could be argued that this would take away from the raw intensity on display, which would surely be a shame. One thing is for sure, these guys are definitely worth checking out the next time they swing by your neck of the woods. Kudos to ChoiceCuts for continuing to book such brilliantly eclectic acts that you just don’t get anywhere else in the country!