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Yasheidenen Falcon (Thursday, February 3rd, Turf Club, St. Paul)
Donny Moon. Photo courtesy of Phillip Pearl

By Cyn Collins

As I'm behind on getting a couple of my reviews in, I went to the Turf last night to listen to Grant Hart, vowing to myself, "no review writing tonight" so I could catch up. But then, opening for Hart I saw a band so vibrant, talented and intriguing, that I'm jumping ahead and writing this review anyway, immediately, so you can hear it here, first! It was that good.

I saw a pretty good sized crowd rather enrapt by a rocking sounding band, and after brief "hellos" settled in to listen. (No one wanted to talk which was an early indicator of the surprise phenomena I was luckily exposed to on a night I don't usually go out.) Within seconds I was literally stricken, silenced mid-conversation to listen to this intriguing band. Fronted by one of the most charismatic singers I've seen in a while, Donny Moon, the band was really wild, in an integral way. They used exciting build ups of pacing and tension. It was frankly difficult to put a finger on what they did. It was ineffable, loud, fast, sounding as though there were '70's heavy metal riffs barely audible in a blur of alt-country, glam, blues, and punk melodies and rhythms. Sometimes loud beeps and handclaps were thrown in, and they kept changing pace. I can say that they were interesting and really great and that you've just gotta go check them out. You can't go wrong.

I was compelled by curiosity to run through the crowd asking the band's name, and who is that charismatic, powerful lead singer/lead guitar? No one could remember the band's name for an obvious reason (It’s Yasheidenen Falcon) but everyone agreed that this was a really hot band that they wanted to see more often. I believe they have the power and the skills to become a big thing here. Heath Henjum and other musicians in the house said they thought they were really good as well, and I found out that the bassist was Cody Wayne and the keyboardist was Dax (former and current Faux Jean members, respectively) and drummer Nick Hook plays with Jan. Still no story yet on the mysterious looking singer, who was tall, wore a dark cardigan over a plaid shirt over a glittery T, with a '70's billed Brit hat pulled low down over his long bangs and short hair. He played and sang with a confident swagger and propelled a magical energy with his compellingly mesmerizing stage presence as though he were consciously weaving a spell. The rawness and grunginess in his voice rivaled the Black Keys and Jack White. The first thought upon listening to him sing was that he was channeling Mark Bolen of T-Rex.

Later I learned from Donny Moon, the singer, that indeed, once he learned a couple of years ago that his voice and styling were similar, he checked out the previously unheard music of T-Rex and was surprised by the parallels. "He's my brother!" says Moon. Armed with this revelation, he intensified those aspects of his singing, but it still does not sound like an imitation, more of a reference point. Moon has the vibrato and the wild cries down. There're songs that sound raucous as hell, dripping with sarcasm, and painfully forlorn. Many of the songs were written for songwriter Moon's wife and you can hear the heartfelt vulnerability. Literary lyrics, and song titles such as “Merlatroy,” “Lilac,” and “Swamp Romp” are indicative that the writer is both well read and has a good sense of humor. While confident as hell on stage, with a daring voice, he is also sensitive and sings with heart.

As the songs seem to utilize a gamut of reference points and sound like a runaway freight train in danger of derailment, they were consistently held together by strong percussion and tightness of the band as thought they were reading each other's minds. They'd have to because they were going so fast and so high, physical and verbal cues would've been nearly lost. They felt tightly wound and ready to shatter into smithereens at any point, which they never did. I loved that they kept pushing at the edges like this. Yasheidenen Falcon is exciting to watch and to hear. The guitar playing was terrific, and the way they played together was wild like the 'late '60's Led Zeppelin (another fave group of the band and that shows in the guitar styles and chops), wild child Hendrix, the Doors and the Allman Brothers days.

Speaking with Moon after the show, I learned the band name is inspired by Moon's early reading of Tolkien, and Tolkien's multilingualism (pre-Lord of the Rings films fame). He also plays with Alaskan Duane McIntyre in a duo, Worn Out Shoes, who played at the Hexagon recently and was hailed by the Pulse as, "a more frenzied take on rockin’ white boy blues than Jack White ever cooked up. Watch your back White Stripes, the Worn Out Shoes are ready to stick a boot up your ass." When I found out Moon was from Soldier's Grove, near Viroqua, Wisconsin, 4 hours away, an area I know to be rich with fine magical musicians, it all made more sense. There are some wild players east of here. Yasheidenen Falcon and Worn Out Shoes, only play here once in awhile, so keep an eye out for this great talent. They are scheduled to play at the Triple Rock in mid-March, and perhaps a gig somewhere in April with a local favorite band. Go!

Cyn Collins is