Last Night: Ian Moore Band At The Continental Club
Nostalgia has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. Aftermath suspects the Ian Moore Band would agree.
As the quartet hit the home stretch of its 90-minute set Thursday with "Blue Sky" and "How Does It Feel," Aftermath realized we once spent the better part of a year, maybe longer, thinking those songs were what every Austin band was supposed to sound like: A dash of blues, a spot of soul, a bit of gospel, a whole lotta funk. It took months of going to Emo's before we realized otherwise.
When we moved to Austin in 1993, the Ian Moore Band was huge. Their first record had just come out, and aided by a sizable media push from radio stations KLBJ and KGSR as well as Aftermath's eventual employers at the Austin Chronicle, the band ruled the roost for the first several years we lived in the state capital. It always seemed like national stardom was just around the corner.
That didn't work out, but as Moore, bassist Chris White, keyboardist Bukka Allen and drummer Michael Villegas conclusively proved Thursday, it wasn't for lack of talent. Any kinks left over from their 15-plus-year layoff were gone within a few minutes of slide-guitar stomping opener "Nothing," washed away by Allen's oceanic waves of B-3.
Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix signposted the early going, Allen flicking his fingers over the piano keys in "Deliver Me" and Moore's razor-like wah-wah slicing a sly "Crosstown Traffic" shout-out in "Harlem." Steamrolling, Muddy Waters' "Champagne & Reefer" was a lights-out blues jam on the order of the Allman Brothers' "One Way Out," as was Freddie King's "Me & My Guitar" at set's end. By that point Moore's Fender, incandescent all night, really was glowing.
It took balls for the band to blast such a bluesy agenda at the high point of grunge, even in Austin, but on the upside the songs felt like they hadn't aged a day. We could have sworn the Beastie Boys sampled the chicken-scratch falsetto funk of "Revelation" on Check Your Head, and they ought to give serious thought to re-releasing "Muddy Jesus." Not only is the subject matter more relevant than ever in these days of cartel border wars and immigration standoffs, but Villegas' drums beat like helicopter blades. Big ups to Chris White for his thick-as-a-brick bass on "Bar Line 99" too.
But it was also easy to see why the band wanted to move on musically. In a nutshell, they were so damn good at the Austin blues/funk/rock thing eventually there was nothing there left to conquer. Enter The First Third, the album that spelled the end of the Ian Moore Band (certainly where Capricorn Records was concerned) but now offers a tantalizing alternate future for the band.