Dancing with the Moon (Hooch)

Two and a half years ago, on a warm summer day, I was dancing in a cornfield. Well, more specifically, I was at All Good music festival, located somewhere in Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio, and rave-esque jazz was emanating from the stage. A dance party was inevitable. Though I’d never heard of the band before (at the time, the majority of their performances took the form of subway raves), Moon Hooch left an impression on me. Ever since then, I kept an eye out for another concert. Unfortunately, studying in the village-like Cambridge meant I was out of luck.

Now, however, having moved to New York, I find no shortage of cultural happenings. Last Saturday night, Moon Hooch took the stage.

Since I remembered the band as new and relatively unknown, I didn’t take the precaution of buying tickets in advance, but rather texted a friend at the last minute to let him know about the concert, and hopped on the subway to head south.

As we approached the venue, I realized our mistake: the concert was sold out. Turns out Moon Hooch has gained well-deserved recognition. I was happy for them, but at the moment also unhappy for us. We had arrived around 11.20; the guy at the door said to come back at midnight when the band would start playing, and that he would “have an answer” for us then.

So we went next door for ice cream, to “Il Laboratorio del Gelato”, an ice cream shop disguised as an industrial lab, and which apparently has 300 flavors, though only 48 on display. I had one scoop of passionfruit and one of sage (and also tried samples of the avocado, dark chocolate sorbet, and white peppercorn). There were also such crazy flavors as celery sorbet, butternut squash, sweet potato, earl grey, and god-knows-what-else. At 15 til midnight, we went back to the venue. At this point there were two separate queues: one for people with tickets, one for the silly people like us. The guy at the door sorted through the people with tickets first, of course, and told us again, that he must wait until midnight before he can tell us if we can get in. So we stood there, finishing our ice cream, though no longer enjoying it quite so much, now that we were out in the frigid air. To our annoyance, the group waiting right in front of us kept growing, as their friends kept showing up–I tried to stay positive, because if I were any of those people, I would certainly do the same thing, and not go to the back of the queue. After all, that’s what spot-saving friends are for!

Eventually, that entire group gave up waiting and went somewhere to get drinks (although one of the girls–who did most of the convincing to tell them that they should get drinks–didn’t look like she needed any more), so we shuffled forward. Every few minutes, someone would ask the guy at the door about our chances of getting in, and he would say, without looking up from his phone, that the band hadn’t started playing yet, so he still could tell us nothing. So we continued to wait.

From time to time, we would see groups of people walk past us, and we silently willed them to keep walking and not turn into the venue, tickets in hand. Every person who walked through those doors threatened our chances of seeing the show.

By about 12.10 or 12.15, I started hopping up and down and from foot to foot, trying to force the blood back into my frozen toes; one woman (who was now in front of us, after the large group left) looked at my feet and commented, “you must be freezing!” She was wearing boots; I was wearing converse.  Soon though, we were all hopping and laughing, bonding with the other ticket-less people, joking about all ramming down the door.

Finally, the band started playing. Collectively, we pushed forward. Two or so people were allowed in, after which the guy-at-the-door said, “one more person”, let someone else through, and then went inside himself. The couple right in front of the woman-in-boots made plans to leave, and go across the street to a bar that had music and was letting people in.  However, since now they were first in line (followed by the woman-in-boots, and then us), they decided to stick around until the guy-at-the-door came back from checking the crowd-situation inside.

And again, we waited, we hopped, we craned our necks to see through the glass. At last, the guy-at-the-door stepped out, and accounted, “we can sell six more tickets, that’s it”. That meant the couple-who-didn’t-leave (1&2), the woman-in-boots(3), me and my friend (4&5), and the guy behind us (6). (I was relieved on behalf of guy #6, because he was in line with his two friends who already had tickets.)

Thrilled at our luck, the six of us went in and bought tickets. I checked my coat, and put some napkins in my ears, as earplugs. Once I walked through the curtain and into the room in which the performance was taking place, I realized that I should have left my sweater too… two of the three musicians were shirtless, and all three were visibly dripping. As was the entire audience. We were quite in the back at first, since we got in so late, and it was impossible to move–in fact, I couldn’t even blame the bouncer for hesitating before selling us tickets.  Eventually, with some effort, we pushed our way towards the front. It remained crowded and hot and sweaty. Some shirtless guys were dancing and sweating and flinging sweat at everyone and everything around them.

But we danced, and the shirtless guys flung sweat, and the music was awesome, and everyone cheered every time the band started playing an old song, and especially when one of the saxophonists put a traffic cone in his sax to make funky sound effects.

When the music ended, we hung around near the stage, since there was no use trying to get out, given the bottleneck of people already crowding the door and waiting to pick up their coats. When the line died down, we were about to leave too–to get my coat and go. But some of the remaining audience members were going up to the musicians to shake hands and thank them and tell them they liked the show. I had been debating whether or not I should do the same, because, well, the performance was great, but I had decided that there was no reason to do that; after all, everyone was saying the same thing! I was happy to just leave, maybe buy a CD, and go home.

But at the last moment, I changed my mind, thinking “last chance, and why not? I might as well say ‘hi’ too”. So we swung around and went back to one of the saxophonists (the one who had used the traffic cone), waiting for him to finish talking to someone else. As he turned to us, I said that lame thing about how much I liked the concert, which was the only thing I could say. He asked our names, introduced himself, and we shook hands. He then asked what we do, so we replied we were grad students. When I said I was doing a PhD program in neuroscience, the sax guy said “really?!” and widened his eyes the way you imagine book characters do when the author describes them as “widening their eyes”. It turned out he was writing a book related to psychology, and asked if I could take a look and give him comments. (By now, he has sent me the document; I have it open, but have not yet made time to read it.)

We shook hands once more and then I got my coat, bought my CD, and went home. By the time I got back, it was nearly 4am, but I had upbeat jazz still bouncing around in my head;  needless to say, I didn’t sleep.

Below, the one decent photo I was able to get from the concert (it’s hard to take non-blurry pictures while dancing!)

Moon Hooch

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This entry was posted in Dancing, Education, Life Philosophy, Music, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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