Holocene was unusually quiet for a warm Sunday evening, with only a few handfuls of people milling around the bar as they waited for Moon King to start their show. Despite the small group of people in attendance, Moon King played as if it was a full house: their set was energetic and upbeat.
The most noticeable thing about Moon King as they began playing was that lead singer Daniel Benjamin didn’t have an instrument in hand. There’s a stigma about lead singers who don’t play an instrument, but Daniel is a stellar embodiment of what a lead singer can be. He exudes showmanship. It was intriguing to watch him move around the stage: crawling up on the bass drum to pour out his soul, or with his back turned to the audience, emphatically shaking maracas. Daniel used his power as the focal point of the set to guide the audience into unexpected moments of silence and shocking swells of sound as they interpreted his body language and demeanor.
“Secret Life,” the title track off of their new album, released April 14th, has a different vibe compared to their other songs. It was dreamy, ethereal, and relied more heavily on Maddy’s vocals than Daniel’s. That being said, the most memorable moments were those when Maddy and Daniel sang together, their voices blending together and floating quietly above the pop driven guitar hooks.
Midway through the set Daniel picked up a guitar for “Impossible,” another song off their new album, which highlights Maddy’s lovely, clear, vintage vocals. Songs like “Secret Life” and “Impossible” show the interesting dynamic that Moon King has, balancing dreamy vocals with psychedelic, hard-hitting guitar riffs and loud, synth-originated bass lines.
The last song of their set, “Roswell” is undoubtedly their most popular song. It was wild and synth heavy. Every band member was completely involved in the music, rocking out, their energy encouraging the audience to do the same. Despite the small group of people gathered at Holocene, Moon King should expect larger and rowdier crowds as they continue to tour and grow.
Moon King is currently touring with electronic band Doldrums, which includes both Daniel and the drummer of Moon King, and is fronted by Daniel’s brother, Airick Woodhead. The music is almost entirely reliant on Airick’s synth, but the backing drums and vocals add a layer of depth that electronic music is often lacking. The sound didn’t seem to mash up with Moon King, but it’s forgivable when you consider that it’s a family affair, and Doldrums did have a more fitting sound for the venue, which is most famously known for its DJ sets and dance parties. The Moon King and Doldrums US tour wraps up this weekend in Chicago and then they begin the European leg of their tour next week.