If you’re at all familiar with the USC house party scene, you’ve probably seen Moontower play at least once. The band is comprised of recent Thornton School of Music graduates Jake Culver, Tom Carpenter and Devan Welsh who are known for their unique blend of dancey techno-pop, energized alt-rock, and indie sensibilities. They honed their sound playing rowdy shows in backyards that were prone to getting shut down by DPS, but this past week they graduated to headlining the Moroccan lounge. The show drew a large, energized crowd surmised of fans from USC, the LA music scene, and beyond. The band has created something of a cult around themselves, and it’s easy to see why.
Moontower understands the power of storytelling through music, video, and augmented reality, and have dedicated themselves to chronicling the journey of a melancholy character named William Hollywood in search of love who seems straight out of a strange, psychedelic 90’s movie. This is what you’ll find of them online, but their live shows will make you feel like you yourself are in the 90’s movie, caught up by the catchy lyrics, synthy beats, and rhythmically flashing neon lights. At the Moroccan Lounge, I felt as though I was witnessing a part of William’s journey through the endless suburbs of Los Angeles.
The band thrived in the more formal setting. They opened with their first single, “William,” one of their more poppy numbers, getting the crowd excited with its infectious, EDM-inspired beat and punchy lyrics persuading William to stop “running in circles” chasing the girl he loves and “get her get her back.” Next up was “Marathon,” a groovier, alt-rock jam on which Culver’s falsetto vocals soar. This was followed by a fun cover of “Take Me Out,” then catchy Moontower classics “Just A Drug,” “How to Win,” and “Balcony,” one of their more tender songs, then their second single “Leaving You Behind,” which features one of their funkiest soundscapes and was a blast to see live.
A highlight of the show was the premiere of their upcoming single “Long Hair,” an edgy pop anthem in the making. They finished off the show with a personal favorite of mine, “Lay With Me,” its aggressive vocals and guitar getting the crowd into a frenzy as the night came to a close.
The band’s cohesive sound, explosive energy, and sprawling vision will clearly take them far beyond the USC music scene, but they maintain true to their roots. Moontower is one of those bands whose shows truly feel like a symbiotic relationship between the musicians onstage and the fans in the audience. Culver, the band’s frontman, makes a point of walking through the crowd, finding a spot, and forming a circle of fans around himself for a more intimate portion of the performance. This is very representative of Moontower - they are an unpretentious band born from the intimacy of house shows, whose fans are often also collaborators, and who are unafraid of artistic experimentation in the form of videos, augmented reality projects, and more. They were born from a collaborative art school environment, and are ready to bring this ethos to the rest of the world.
— Christina Ungermann, DJ