Taxi, Ham, Surfers and Turkuaz deliver diverse sets

Ezra Huleatt of Black Taxi gave a high energy performance at the Rat on Sept. 17. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

By Tom Ciccone
Correspondent

The Rathskeller hosted the eclectic sound of two talented bands Friday Sept. 17, introducing a medley of style and delivery.

Hailing from Brooklyn, Black Taxi was a multi-layered, interactive act. Its lead singer, front man and multi-instrumentalist Ezra Huleatt started the show by jumping on the tables. He later ran through the venue and used a bizarre combination of instruments, including the trumpet, keys, bells, a gold megaphone, tambourine and even a marching-band style bass drum. The combination of heavy blues guitar riffs by guitarist William Mayo, heavy low-end bass lines by bassist Krisana Soponpong and dance rhythms by drummer Jason Holmes gave Black Taxi’s tunes a catchy, original sound.

Mayo and Huleatt’s harmonies faltered at times, but at one point Mayo sang in perfect unison to the melody of Huleatt’s trumpet. With calming, ambient intros of jazz and ethereal tones, their set was well-timed, throwing in covers such as The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” Despite a quarter being chucked at Jason Holmes’ face during the second song, the talented artists soldiered through the set and displayed great musicianship throughout the night.

The opening band Turkuaz was an 11-piece set of musicians whose brand of hectic funk and offbeat, orchestrated rhythms rocked the venue. One of its songs, “Gremlin,” utilized dissonant funk riffs with harmonizing sax, trombone, trumpet and moog synthesizer, all syncopated to irregular breakdowns perfectly maintained by a stellar rhythm section.

While Turkuaz’s lyrical content focused mainly on the sound of the words, as opposed to the content, the lead singer’s usage of bilingual lyrics added a dynamic flavor to the band’s songwriting. The band’s female vocal section even danced in sync, displaying the members’ prowess as not just talented musicians, but as entertainers as well.