Indiana natives Houndmouth packed Indianapolis’ Garfield Park last recently, bringing a surprising turnout. Garfield is a relatively new venue, hosting only two shows this year. It features a lawn, bleachers, and seats (which were reserved for Houndmouth’s friends and family) leading up to a large amphitheater with a performing stage. By the end of the night, many had pressed up along the barrier pit-style anyway, so it seemed as though every taste was accommodated for. Truly an all-ages show, six year olds and sixty-five year olds sang lyrics side by side. You may be asking: Who the hell is Houndmouth? I bought a t-shirt asking that asked the same question, and hopefully I can answer it.
Anderson East kicked off the show, hailing from all the way down in Tennessee. His musical style stayed true to his roots, with the kind of country that doesn’t make you cringe—just enough folk sound with just enough depth and artistic individuality. He was a perfect opener. The music was engaging enough to hold attention, but not so overwhelming that it was difficult to carry on a conversation.
Houndmouth entered in 70’s prom style tuxedos, and I realized halfway through the set that they’re essentially a 70’s prom band. Admirably, they kept their suits on the entire time, despite the 90+ degree weather. Right off the bat, they got the whole crowd on their feet and swaying. Lots of beer was sold and shared, and the show turned into more of a social gathering quickly. Those in the front, however, were very-much enthralled in the music. Many were singing, and all were dancing as their damn-near neighbors poured their hearts out to “2,500 of their closest friends.”
The sound itself is a huge mix of a huge spectrum of genres. They’re best known for “Sedona,” but not all their material is consistent with their most popular. It starts out with a basis in general alternative, but sways towards the “alt-folk” side. “Folk” isn’t quite the right word, however. Their sound is much smoother and has more depth. Add a dash of jazz, and maybe a tiny pinch of country into the instrumentals, but keep the lyrics straight out of a Vance Joy show. As you can see, it’s very hard to describe.
Not wanting to differentiate, the audience treated it like a country show, which was probably much easier. Houndmouth’s sound is completely danceable, and their tracks certainly pick up more energy live. There was never a slow moment in the show. Exciting at every turn, no one was ready to head out early to beat traffic.
Much of the audience was disappointed with Katie’s departure from the band, but their stage dynamic hardly suffered. She seemed to class them up a bit, and without her, they were able to let it all hang out. The stage dynamic was a little off, but time heals all missing spots on the stage.
There were three awesome aspects to the show that fit together perfectly: the venue, the crowd, and the band. Each worked with every other component to run everything smoothly and make sure everyone was having the best time possible. If you have a chance to either see Houndmouth or go to Garfield Park’s next show, do both—all parties know what they’re doing.