Inspector Gadget, Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Power Rangers: a journey back to the ‘90s? Nope, a weekend with two nights of TAUK at New Mountain AVL in Asheville, North Carolina! This back-to-back showcase provided anyone who was lucky enough to witness it a clear picture of just how flexible this New York-based group can be. Any fans of superheroes and video games in the crowd were sure to recognize the slew of theme songs and riffs masterfully woven throughout the show.
On Friday night, NY natives ShwizZ helped to warm up the crowd with their progressive rock-funk improv, ending the set with a track from their new album, “…and then there were TollZ”. After ShwizZ broke down, and the stage was set for TAUK, the lights signaled to everyone that it was time. As if gearing up for an epic journey, the eager and anticipatory crowd was prepared for TAUK’s entrance to the stage with a theme song from the video game series Zelda. Whether fans were familiar with the tune or not, everyone knew that they were about to partake in an epic experience.
In the spirit of the holiday weekend, the quartet took the stage donning different Halloween masks. Despite trying to conceal their secret identities, TAUK fans quickly knew who we were listening to as the band kicked off with their ever popular “Friction” from the 2014 album Collisions, It was fitting that drummer Isaac Teel would be wearing a mask from Friday the 13th, as he came out and absolutely ‘killed it’ with the sharp rhythms flowing from his Pearl drum kit. Dropping another fan favorite from Collisions, TAUK demonstrated what we would be experiencing during both nights of these unique sets. As they rolled through the familiarly melodic crescendos of “Mokuba,” they switched gears and skillfully infused it with the theme from Super Mario Bros., delivered as a rock remix that would’ve made Mario proud.
The second set of TAUK’s first night was equally impressive as they gave the crowd samples from all of their albums and even threw in the highly anticipated single, “Revenge of Weenus” which the band released in September of this year. Video gamers were no doubt impressed by the continued melding of themes from games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The band wrapped up the first night with a brief tribute to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and an encore that somehow merged “Sunshine Harry” with the theme from Pokemon.
On Saturday night, New Mountain opened the doors a bit earlier and gave everyone a chance to catch a few hits from the progressive rock group Deaf Scene, who’s psychedelic-funk-fusion set the tone for what TAUK fans were undoubtedly in store for. Staying true to Halloween weekend, TAUK came out in coordinated fashion, dressed as members of the popular ‘90s television show, Power Rangers, the theme to which they would later mix with the track “Shenanigans.” This fitting mash-up was accompanied by Teel singing the words while playing! A rare sight that many fans may never get the chance to see. Bassist Charlie Dolan carried a huge smile while connecting with the driving bass line of this metal-based, ‘90s classic theme. During the first half of their second night, TAUK pulled almost exclusively from their most recent album Sir Nebula which was released in September of 2016. This gave fans who haven’t seen them since the release an intoxicating live rendition of tracks from Sir Nebula that are quickly increasing in popularity.
Their return to the stage from a brief set break was accompanied by the theme from Superman, and the band swooped in with the rolling “Informant” off of “Sir Nebula”. Alric “A.C.” Carter (keys), and Matt Jalbert (guitar) proceeded to slather on the face-melting solo work we have come to love as they hit us with another single track released in April of 2017, “Realize”. Almost every song that followed came equipped with a superhero/villian theme mashup including: Superman, Batman, Inspector Gadget, Darth Vadar’s Imperial March, and the James Bond theme. To wrap up this epic weekend, TAUK responded to the crowd’s call for an encore with the well-known “Mindshift,” mixed so seamlessly with the theme from X-Men.
Asheville was the only two-night stop on TAUK’s entire tour. Dolan and Jalbert expressed why the mountain town has such significance for them.
“Asheville is great – the people, the food, and the hang, it’s one of our favorite spots to stop,” Dolan said.
“We love it here and it worked out with the timing. Maybe next time we can stay for three days, or a week,” Jalbert said.
For both long-standing and brand new fans alike, this two-night extravaganza fully demonstrated the raw, flexible talent that these musicians carry. Sharing pieces from all of their albums as well as their newly released singles, TAUK gave Asheville a taste of how they have and will continue to evolve as a group. Melding their sound with several different themes certainly showed that these guys have the ‘superpower’ of beautifully unique composition.
Article by Alex Thomson
Photographs by Anna Norwood