Holidays often bring the biggest surprises out here in this wild town of New York City. This past Halloween-filled weekend was not without some fantastic musical acts stopping by to make the spooky nights even more magical than imagined. Webster Hall, in fact, was the place to be Saturday evening as the entire venue was filled with talent that would make every music nerd lose their mind. One band in particular, Royal Teeth, were one of the many highlights to grace the halls. Made up of musicians, Gary Larsen, Nora Patterson, Josh Hefner and Thomas Onebane, the band alongside their contemporaries, Swimming With Bears and Rooney, impressed old and new fans alike.
Webster Hall has kept its Halloween tradition alive as giant blow up pumpkins smiled down from the already crowded street full of fans. Many were heading to check out the B-52s and Metro Station, understandably, but a second line formed for Rooney, Royal Teeth and Swimming With Bears. Of course, the heavily overhyped costume of Harley Quinn was already making the rounds all along the city streets. It was simply one after the other.
Before the show the extremely kind, Gary, Nora and Josh took some time to share their musical journey to date. Lingering on the other side of the street in front of The Marlin Room, the three musicians were patient, excited and extremely pleased to be back in New York City. “It was actually a painless trip into the city,” shared Gary, “there was no traffic and we were able to find parking. New York City has never been that kind to us!” Laughter followed until the band regaled about the last time they were in the city, which was right around the terrible bombing earlier this fall. “We were worried and kept checking in with our families,” remarked Josh, “we actually were in Elizabeth, New Jersey when all this was going on and we thought, ‘oh, we are so far away from it we will be fine.’ Then we found out that another bomb was not too far from us in Elizabeth!” Luckily, the crew were unhurt and seemed to be unfazed by the events at hand.
On a lighter note, the band were keeping things simple that night, despite the Halloween anticipation in the air. With a smile growing on her face, Nora gave a glimpse of what could have happened. “We were going to dress up as the characters from Bob’s Burgers, but decided to keep it simple.” Although they did not dress up, their performance would be as electrifying as ever and honored the holiday well. Since the crew all currently live down in New Orleans, it was curious to hear where their musical inspirations lie. “We are inspired by the street performers and the energy they have,” states Josh, “we try to capture that feeling with our live shows and to express that energy with all of the audience participation.” Even though the jazz and blues genre is not fully in their repertoire, they seem to find their own unique way to honor the musical power a town like New Orleans possesses.
Royal Teeth remain busy. Josh jumped right in, “we have our new EP, ‘Amateurs’ being released November 18th and we will be touring until the end of the year. Hopefully, after all that, we will be popping back into the studio.” Gary interjects, “we have so many ideas and want to make it work with the limited time that we have. We want to record what feels right. In fact, we still have some favorites that we have never had the chance to do!” Finally, the band departed with waves and smiles to get ready for their set to begin.
Upon entering the decorated Marlin Room, listeners were prompted to head straight to the bar to snag some crisp pumpkin beer. The unusually dark room held a wide space with a lingering lounge section by the stage. It looked like the other bands and their entourage chose to plant themselves there. Halloween was in full swing with guests happily dressed up and ready for music. Some worthy creatures from the crowd were a unicorn, a woman with a gouged eye and of course Beetlejuice himself in all his creepy fame. Luckily, there were no Harley Quinn fans inside!
After Swimming With Bears ended their loud set, they wandered to the back by the doors to welcome fans at their merchandise tables. Royal Teeth began setting up calmly on stage. While waiting, many members of the crowd were transfixed with the ever spinning disco balls in the shapes of stars. Eventually, the lights went off and cheers from the crowd followed. A trance-like wail reverberated throughout the space as Royal Teeth walked on stage. Several balloons were tossed into the crowd to remain bouncing around throughout their entire set, surprisingly. Josh took things off with his signature intense drumming that had a dash of hard rock thrown in. Just as people started getting used to the drums, a bass sound began to blend right in over Nora’s tranquil voice. Nora owned the tambourine and won fans over straight away with her somber vocals and beaming presence on stage. Her eyes shone immensely in the lights. Royal Teeth made sure to hold onto that alt-pop glamor. Harmonies between Gary and Nora were sublime as they both stared out into the nothingness of the room. Their eyebrows remained fixed as emotion oozed out of them. If fans were not energized from their music to start from Josh, they were the second the instrumentals came in with Gary and Nora dancing around with glee. Gary had a grin plastered on his face the entire night.
When the band was not unleashing energy, they were honing their skills with soft and graceful music. Josh even wowed people as he stood up at times to pound on the drums. Echoing twangs were welcomed as the crowd began to bounce together. Gary brought the showmanship to another level as he would alternate between the guitar and a stand alone floor tom that he banged in sync with Josh. A devilish smile grew during these moments as Gary held his guitar pick in his teeth. Nora was all everyone ever needed in a lead female singer. With her colorful ribbons flowing from in her left hand and the motions that followed with every flurry of musical inspiration, she was hard to look away from. However, many fans closed their eyes as her voice resonated in the minds of many with the stellar music.
Royal Teeth have succeed in creating a genre of magical pop that clearly was shown in their live performance. A collective clapping and constant audience participation that was encouraged made the entire crowd feel that they were making music with the band all the while. The interesting harmony match between Gary and Nora somehow worked to a contrasting pleasurable degree of sound. When the intensity hit its peak, both of them would lock foreheads for a moment and move onto the rest of their wild dancing. Gary went so nuts, that his cap even flew off to be returned to him from a generous fan.
Royal Teeth’s song, Mais La a live favorite, was yet another prime example of audience inclusion as they sung along with Nora in the chorus. As the remainder of their set ended, the ukulele came out from the jack of all trades, Gary, and one of their many hits Hold Me graced the room. The crowd joined in the chorus and contributed to all elements of the song. Every bit of their hits were still wonderful if just a tad bit deeper and more powerful live. With a smooth transition shift, they went into Wild and yells erupted in the venue. Yet again, the crowd joined in on the chorus and made sure to honor the audience participation from the band. As the song went on even longer, Gary took a fan’s phone and filmed the crescendo with it. Just when everyone thought that was it, he jumped in the center of the crowd with his floor tom and banged away singing. It was a hell of a way to finish it all off.
For fans of great and uplifting music, look no further than Royal Teeth. Their unique passion and dedication to their musical skill and live performance make them a staple in today’s dense music industry. Take a listen, see their shows and get ready to hear more from these folks as they are sure to be rocking the airwaves for years to come!
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez