A wall of sound is set to launch across the Savannah River from the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre as Augusta welcomes Moon Taxi for an all-ages show on Thursday, August 20.
As the first of the two-part Riverwalk Revival Series, Moon Taxi promises to return with yet another high-energy concert as they say farewell to a summer of touring and festivals. In addition to the show, the Nashville natives will also be on hand at Farmhaus Burger from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. to meet and greet fans.
The Moon Taxi concert will also feature supporting performances from Charleston’s SUSTO and Sleepwalkers.
The band’s five members have been together since 2007. Described as indie-progressive rock and alt-pop, Moon Taxi has enjoyed an upward trajectory into widespread popularity, particularly following the release of 2013’s “Mountains Beaches Cities.” Bassist Tommy Putnam believes it’s actually difficult to pin the band down to any one genre.
“We have a very diverse background,” he said. “I like to call it a pop-rock alternative music; we kind of have something for everyone. If you listen to our catalogue you’ll probably find a lot of stuff.”
As they became more well-known, the band was tapped for multiple commercial and TV placements, including BMW, MLB and HBO Sports. Moon Taxi also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan which gained them a huge nationwide fan base.
And it is that very fan base that has cheered them on as they pursued a rigorous touring schedule, including performances at music festivals including Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Moon Taxi’s relentless schedule has helped the band stay focused, and while their rise may have been evident to outside observers, event organizer George Claussen of Friends with Benefits claims it wasn’t so clear to them.
“We’ve known these guys for many years and we’ve watched them grow,” he said. “We knew where they were going, even just from the hype they had in the college world and they were touring so hard; we could see it, but they were so busy they couldn’t even see it.”
Moon Taxi’s fourth studio album, “Daybreaker,” is scheduled for release October 2 of this year. And though each member has always been fully involved, “Daybreaker” is a result of a close collaboration between Moon Taxi and producer Jacquire King, who has previously worked with Tom Waits, Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon.
Putnam believes King was instrumental in creating consensus in the group.
“He really helped us understand exactly what we wanted to get out of this record,” he said. “He did such a good job of getting every band member to be extremely proud and extremely happy with the work they did. The sound on this album is so much deeper and richer than our other records.”
The first track to be released from the album, “Year Zero,” has even been featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. A vibrant, persistent and sunlit track, “Year Zero” produces an urgent wave of sound that makes you want to move.
However, studio albums don’t offer the same kind of experience as concerts. Live shows bring people one step closer to the music and Moon Taxi doesn’t disappoint. Putnam said, “I don’t know what it is about live shows that make them so much better. There are lights, fresh air, some drinking involved and so many more people. Nothing beats a live concert, you know. And I feel like any band should be better live than their record.”
Exactly the kind of experience the Riverwalk Revival series is designed to deliver.
The Riverwalk Revival concert series is organized by Friends with Benefits, a local organization that raises funds and awareness by providing quality live music in Augusta. Claussen explained the amphitheatre was a natural choice of venue for him and his partner, Brian Brittingham.
“It really goes back to our childhoods when the Riverwalk was something new and exciting — the days of Fort Discovery and Sunny 105, and how much fun it was,” he said. “As the years went on, it kinda got forgotten.”
The amphitheatre presents an attractive option for all performers and Claussen believes it deserves more attention.
“We are focused on supporting local charitable organizations, but right now we are also really focused on helping to grow Augusta. And with this particular show we are really showcasing the venue as well as giving support to downtown.”
The Jessye Norman Amphitheatre sits on the Riverwalk off the 9th Street plaza. Seating 1,800 people, it is a picturesque setting for any occasion, but provides an extraordinary, esthetically appealing setting for concerts in particular. In addition to the Riverwalk Revival series, Funk You takes to the covered stage in September, and Ben Folds will perform at the amphitheatre as part of Westabou.
Claussen also believes it’s the perfect place to see Moon Taxi and he thinks the show is a chance for fans of all ages to see a great band on the rise.
“It’s the best venue Augusta has,” said Claussen, “When the city gets involved — all the boats that pull up, and all the people who crowd around — it’s a very cool experience. It’s a very cool ambience.”
Jessye Norman Amphitheatre
Thursday, August 20
6:30 p.m., gates open
$15, advance; $25, day of; free, meet and greet at Farmhaus