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Concert Review: Moon Duo Give A Visionary Concert At Rough Trade NYC


Imagine psychedelic rock was an old western. Guitar chords strung as if you were entering the opening sequence to a John Wayne film, meanwhile, all around you the sky changed to kaleidoscope clouds with neon hues. A pretty, trippy analogy huh? Yet, Moon Duo played a setlist that felt like a soundtrack for a space cowboy; fighting comets and cops just to gain some stars.

Admittedly, I was curious to see Moon Duo. On record, their music has an eery, dark undercurrent to it as if their instrumentals came from rattling skeletons. I always feel hesitant picking up “occultish” sounds because I am the type of person that will stay a year with a rosary under her pillow just from seeing one scary movie. Playing off their latest album with titular tracks like, “The Death Set” , “ Cold Fear”, and “ The Will of Moloch”, I assumed the concert would traverse the murkiness of mysticism. Although Moon Duo plays to mystical sentiments, in concert, their show heads to the cosmic aspect of said world. It could be because their backdrop was a ballet of neon shapes and figures molding and transforming into each other that the curiosity and colorfulness of their music leapt. Honestly, the projector guy should win an Oscar for his visual work because Moon Duo are a pair of musicians that truly benefit from having a cinematic accompaniment. Their music is so visual, in itself, that seeing songs from Occult Architecture Vol. 1 play with the prints splashed over them made the audience feel as if their music was touchable. Moon Duo was visually swallowed by images that I swore, if I reached my hand out, a rhythm made by Sanae Yamada’s keys or Ripley Johnson’s guitar chords would manifest into a sparkling Rubiks Cube within my palm. Their concert is as playful and mind-enrapturing as this childhood puzzle; everyone wants to “solve” it but only a few can.

Now I am not saying that Moon Duo is the concert to go for bright sounds that makes you feel like “sunshine”. Their chords and keys are aimed to feel fuzzed and blurred with each strike, as if someone had tossed a water onto the amp, and though still working, now every sound made seems like the shaded version of the original. Even Yamada and Johnson’s vocals sound pasted and muddled to never go above the project images of their instrumentals, which I loved.  If that does not sound appealing, in concert, it sounds fascinating, which is why their live show has a “puzzling” aura. Like mysticism or occult; there is a music mystery to their concert atmosphere that brings out your own inhibitions, which matches with that rock n’ roll, Western feel I had mentioned earlier. You cannot help but feel as if Moon Duo has challenged you to a duel, but instead of guns, they are drawings synths and drumbeats that are as inter-galactic as Life, itself. Hence, I understood the little to no chatter they gave with the audience because their concert is like a musical art-piece at the MoMa. You walk into a room, and let Moon Duo’s film of painted sounds and symbols drape over you. For More Information On Moon Duo Click Here.