“Bring me some lipstick and I’ll wear it for the show,” urged Adrian Flanagan of The Moonlandingz, without a hint of sarcasm mixed into his no-nonsense Sheffield accent. We’d just interviewed him and frontman Lias Saoudi ahead of their NYC tour stop, and I figured he was ribbing me. “I won’t put you through my color choices,” I laughed, giving him an easy exit. “No, please – really,” he insisted. “Any color you want.” When I packed my backpack for Rough Trade a few days later, I settled on a somewhat radioactive bright red, plus a small capsule of silver glitter for good measure. As a fly-on-the-wall journalist, it felt weird to have even the tiniest impact on a show I was covering; as if I was disrupting the art form in some way – like a wildlife photographer tossing meat to the lions just off-camera. If only I’d known what a drop in the ocean my embellishments would be once it all got going.
In their first moments – and seemingly their first official show – opening band Uni sent a flurry of star-shaped sequins raining down over the Brooklyn crowd. Starring the indelible Charlotte Kemp Muhl (who many know from her international modeling work, as well as her musical project with boyfriend Sean Ono Lennon, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger), the young band made an insanely-good impression on the tough NY audience. Between their frontman’s feral stage presence, the shimmer of their brightly-patterned suits, the sudden appearance of an incidentally-topless dancing nurse with a ball gag in her mouth, and Charlotte’s ever-alluring, well-dressed performance, Uni was unquestionably an eye-candy kind of band. But far beyond that, their unique brew of psych rock was strikingly polished – an unexpected burst of decadent guitar riffs and strong melodies, brimming with those heavy good vibes you can feel in your chest. After putting on one of the best opening sets we’ve seen this year, featuring fresh songs like “The Tranny Fag,” “Adult Video,” and “The Middle Class,” Uni took the time to spread a lavish amount of silver glitter onto the stage floor; like some kind of sacred rock ritual to honor our headliners.
When it came to throwing things overhead in the first song, The Moonlandingz had something a little different in mind. Their savage frontman, Lias (hailing from Fat White Family, of course) showered us in a cold, sticky beer just a few notes into “Vessels,” which then served as glue for all the glitter to come. The hard-dancing crowd launched into action as the sultry, sinister song took shape, enveloped in The Moonlandingz’ animalistic drums, brutal basslines, and Adrian’s complementary work on the keys. Lias was soon shirtless and thrashing in one of his trademark fits of onstage-rage, leading us into an uncertain future with the semi-terrified, aggressive delivery that makes him such a memorable singer.
Tearing into tracks from their recently-released debut album, Interplanetary Class Classics, they treated us to “Black Hanz” “Eagles of Death Metal,” and “IDS” before slowing things down a bit. Of course, for the Moonlandingz, slower doesn’t necessarily mean tidier. The second beer dump of the night took place during “The Strangle of Anna,” a duet for which Charlotte Kemp Muhl joined Lias onstage. In an unforgettable moment, just as the song was coming to a climax, she pulled his body into hers and slowly poured a full beer over their heads, the viscous liquid rolling down her long hair and splashing all over his chest.
Sometime before “Glory Hole” and The Moonlandingz’ killer finale, “The Man in the Lyfe Suite” from their second EP, Expanded, I found a good opportunity to slide the lipstick and glitter under the keyboard by Adrian’s feet. He scooped it up with excitement and instantly started applying it like war paint. With his face smothered in red and silver, he looked back down, making the question-mark expression that means “How do I look?” I found my arm amidst the moshing and used it to give him a thumbs up. As suspected, though, with a performance as badass as theirs – he really didn’t need a thing.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley