Let’s face it. For a lot of people, 2016 couldn’t end soon enough and 2017 is off to a rocky start. But for one night, there was bright and energetic beacon full of groove, named Mondo Cozmo performing at the Mercury Lounge, to help you remember: there’s always hope – especially if you can dance to it.
Starting off the night was a quiet, almost shy set from Cassandra Jenkins. Jenkins, who recorded her album with her friends in Ava Luna, was solo this night. Clad in her white blazer and black slacks, it was the quiet desperation in her voice that filled up the venue. Jenkins’ sound is the kind that demand an almost total silence form her audience, lest the dream like state she evokes be shattered into a thousand tiny stories. But in contrast to that is her banter with the crowd. It’s one full of coy little jokes hidden behind an almost guilty smile on stage.
Next up was John Ostrander, touring with his relatively new project Mondo Cozmo. But you’d never guess this group hadn’t even cut an official full-length album yet. Ostrander’s a presence in full control of the audience – an audience that was loudly chanting his name before he even stepped on stage.
Ostrander’s voice echoes Dylan from the moment it makes contact with the microphone. But his sound is more rockabilly with even a dash of some funk to make sure you dance, dance, dance and sing along. He’s also perfected an almost perfect McConaughey-like vibe – from the little twitches to the darting side eye. I half expected to hear him say “All right! All right! All right!” from the moment he got on stage. Hell, he even invited the whole crowd to keep drinking with him after the gig ended. Good thing his necklace even doubles as bottle opener. It also helps that he kind of looks like an even slimmer version of the movie star.
Mondo Cozmo’s music doesn’t shy away from a deep spirituality mixed in with an uplifting beats and sing along choruses. He even brought up a choir to close out the night with his standout “Shine.” The kind of song where each successive chorus calls for the audience to sing louder and louder as if they’re standing in front of an alter being filled with some kind of higher purpose. At one point he covered his eyes with his fists as if he himself couldn’t contain what was swelling up inside him.
His set may have been short, after all he hasn’t cut his debut album yet, but it never stopped moving. On the dance anthem of “Higher”, the opening percussion is call to get your feet moving. The thumping drums will make sure you don’t stop. Ostrander seems like a ready-made pop star – but without any of the false veneer a record label might try to coat the next big thing in.
Article: Omar Kasrawi