The Moonlandingz began life as a fictional concept band, formed inside the mind of Sheffield outfit Eccentronic Research Council, more specifically Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer, in their 2015 album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist and Music Machine…I’m Your Biggest Fan. A short while after, the fictional band released their first EP, this time featuring Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski from London psych-rockers, Fat White Family. Fast forward to the present day, where The Moonlandingz have somewhat abandoned their fictional status, with Saoudi taking on the role of frontman Johnny Rocket, and a critically acclaimed debut album under their belt. Today they take said album, Interplanetary Class Classics, on its first headline trip to the States, at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, NY.
Album and show opener Vessels kickstarted the wild and eccentric set with its aggressive drumbeat and heavy bassline, followed by singles “Black Hanz” and “Sweet Saturn Mine”, both of which are packed with a scuzzy, psychedelic yet somewhat futuristic vibe, entangled with carefully thought out lyrics and catchy hooks. All members of the band play their intricate parts to perfection, and the songs sound even bigger live than the studio versions.
Amongst the decent sized crowd were a few notable faces, including Sean Lennon and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, who joined The Moonlandingz onstage to perform duet “Strangle of Anna’” The pair often become entangled with one another, and a beer is poured over Saoudi’s head at the end, not that he seems to care in the slightest. (Kemp Muhl’s new musical venture, “Uni”, opened up the evening with a glittery haze of 60’s psychedelia and 70’s punk, which for their debut gig, blew the minds off of everyone who came down early.)
Frontman Lias Saoudi’s stage persona is manic, intense, and ecstatic. But it is utterly brilliant. Saoudi has made a name for himself as being an eccentric performer, and that he is – the man never stops moving. Whether he’s crawling on the floor, head banging at an alarming rate whilst screaming into the mic, or doing the chicken dance, he has absolutely mastered the art of capturing and holding the attention of a crowd, and tonight they are in the palm of his hands; further reinforcing that he is one of the most enigmatic yet enthralling front men around today.
He dons pure white paint all over his face as if it were a mask, and a blue jacket with gold embroidery (which is later shed as he opts to be shirtless). A look much tamer compared to his previous ventures with The Moonlandingz (think bread bracelets and deli meat as a facial accessory) but still out of the ordinary.
One thing is for sure about The Moonlandingz is that they are to be seen just as much as they are to be heard. Their live shows are extraordinary, and if you find one happening near you, I highly recommend you go. You definitely won’t forget it, at least.