On stage, Mother Falcon looks like utter chaos. The sprawling Austin, Texas collective has a rotating cast of somewhere between 15 and 20 musicians -- all jumping on and off stage or switching instruments. And with multiple main singers, it takes a second for your eyes to dart around the stage looking for where the voice is coming from.
The band's intricate orchestral arrangements segue with ease from passage to passage, and often, not to the place you might expect. And they fully take advantage of the group’s size as delicately parsed vocal lines swell to gigantic, room-engulfing choruses.
And yet, despite that crowded mess of voices and strings and horns, and really, because of it, Mother Falcon's symphonic-oriented indie pop is a lot of fun.
For the month of June, Mother Falcon brought that burst of joy to New York, to live together in close quarters in Brooklyn while doing weekly residencies in Manhattan at Joe's Pub and in Brooklyn at Littlefield. It was an impressive, somewhat audacious undertaking: While it can be difficult enough for young bands -- only just out of college -- to break even while on tour, try being a band with as many bodies as this.
Maybe it's all a tad earnest and heartfelt. But, for me, that's the appeal of a band like this: Mother Falcon is a self-contained music community-meets-art project-meets-vibrant social network. And it's hard not to get caught up in that spectacle, if even for a song.
Still, with these residencies, Mother Falcon made it work, using the time at both venues to workshop material, and get some New York exposure they can take back home to Texas. These stints also opened the door to guest musicians sharing the stage. The night I caught the band at Littlefield, singer and provocateur Amanda Palmer sat in with the band on a few originals and a triptych of reworked Radiohead songs, including a spare, but emotionally-charged "Karma Police."
Turns out those three Radiohead cover songs were a tease for Mother Falcon's farewell to New York. On Tuesday, June 25 at Littlefield and Sunday, June 30 at Joe's Pub, the two residences are coming to an end in an ambitious way: the band will be performing Radiohead's OK Computer, in its entirety.
In fact, Mother Falcon's latest video -- a rearrangement of OK Computer's classic opener, "Airbag" -- is an excellent preview of these special last two performances before the group heads back to Texas. If you haven't seen this band yet, these shows will surely be a great introduction. Should be a blast.