Nashville’s Moon Taxi made their second visit to New York’s Bowery Ballroom since the release of their sophomore album, Cabaret. In the past, the band did not quite receive the response they were hoping for from the eastern seaboard; “New York has been such a tough city for us and it’s definitely kicked our ass multiple times.” But, after a year of solid music festival performances under their belt, Moon Taxi is firmly seated in a groove. The boys from Nashville have become so polished in their repertoire—confidence intact—that they now test new songs to bigger crowds. This time, when Moon Taxi ripped through their set at Bowery, everyone came along for the ride.
With a stage full of thick smoke and neon lighting, Moon Taxi took position and launched into “All the Rage,” marking their territory with their electronic/Americana cross-pollination. Setting the bar high just two minutes in, they continued full throttle; perhaps all the years spent attending Bonnaroo (10 total) served as a framework for the type of live performance this band puts on. Three songs in, they claimed their jam band identity with a rootsy-rhythmic fusion that introduced “Whiskey Sunsets” before digging deeper into their catalogue. 2008’s “Common Ground” off their live album, Live Ride was a jolt of life, the band playing at a speed that probably shouldn’t be played at. A new song made its way to the late night set, traveling into a denim pocket of blues, but the real highlight came when frontman Trevor Terndrup broke out the talk box and delivered the midnight special by way of Peter Frampton with a jam-heavy “Do You Feel Like We Do.” Yes, Moon Taxi, we do.
This was the first year you have played the most festivals. How has that helped?
Well its’ great, I think we laid a lot of the foundation in these places, you know, we have some fans that can tell their friends that are also going to the festival and they can drag them out and say, ‘Hey you need to see this band,’ and we just multiply our fan base out of that. And also the people who tend to go to festivals are music fans, they’re not just general fans; they’re actually avid music fans, you know, they spend money on things and they want to come out and see new music and tell their friends about it. So yeah, it’s been a good thing for us.
If you could start your own festival, what would you call it, where would it be?
We’ve actually talked about it a little bit. We like the natural amphitheater down in Lake Martin, Alabama. It’s gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. It’s right on the lake and it’s a natural amphitheater so there’s this nice slope and the stage is at the bottom. And what did we say we were gonna call it? Ameritronica Fest? (laughs). We sort of threw out the name of our album, Cabaret.
Where did the album name derive from?
We tossed around kind of every crazy word we could think of. Our thing has always been kind of fun, energetic, you know, entertainingly visual—just like a cabaret. We tried to sort of embody that in a song and we liked it for a record title about the week before we had to come up with one. We are performers, the world is the stage, and the album is the show.
You’ve shared bills with some impressive musicians: Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGee, Matisyahu, you even got a night slot at Bonnaroo. A year ago, were these the types of goals you had in mind?
This time last year, we were trying to get booked at all the festivals we got booked at this year and we were really pushing out agent really, really hard, saying “This is what we need. This is a big deal for us.” And then a few of them started coming in right about this time last year and we got really excited. We knew we were playing certain ones. And we were working on the record, too. Wait, we were done with the record in June  so we were just kind of sitting on it forever.
What was your most memorable festival experience?
Bonnaroo takes the cake.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We are constantly writing.
Are you prepared for the end of the world? 12/21/2012 is approaching….
I think we’re dying (laughs).
Where do you want to play before the world ends?
Spencer: Bowling Green
Tyler: The pyramids
Trevor: Yes the pyramids in Mexico…Chichen Itza under the moon.
Wes: I wanna play the Forbidden City.
Trevor: No, wait! I wanna play Atlantis.