Review: Moonface at the Mill – June 17, 2012

Moonface isn’t normally the kind of music that makes you want to get up and dance. But at their show on Sunday at the Mill, I found myself shuffling, nodding, swaying … riding a crescendo of sound that culminated in the closest approximation to “dancing” this non-dancer can manage. Yeah, it was that kind of show.

We danced because it was epic; because when Spencer Krug lifted his face and made eye contact with the audience he drew us into an intimacy it was impossible to walk away from. Krug’s delivery was compelling in its shifts from defiance to pensiveness to bravado, a variety that mirrored his subject matter: thwarted passion, missed opportunity, resignation and ascendence. He took the room’s attention and held it without gimmick or pretense.

Moonface’s set got started with this song, the band wasting no time in filling the intimate venue completely with propulsive drums, lush guitars and gripping vocals.

It was a thrill to hear an entire night of that voice. When Krug performed with his now-defunct band Wolf Parade last year at The Englert, vocal duties were split between the two lead singers. But Krug was the one I always wanted more of, so last night was a rare treat, in spite of the (rather begrudging) lack of an encore.

If you weren’t at the Mill on Sunday (where were you?), you missed a performance that once again proved this folk joint can carry a rock show to rival Gabe’s, the Blue Moose or any other venue you might have on your list of bests. Each chord was warmed by the close bodies and walls; Krug’s voice lifted and echoed, from growl to primal wail; the thudding drumbeat threatened to overcome your own heart. When the sound is done right at the Mill (and last night it was), the music swells to roof and rafter, wrapping all lovers in its embrace.

The show actually garnered a decent crowd for a summertime Sunday, but if you were among those that missed it, I hope you can fit some musical vacations into your schedule soon. There will be many opportunities, as summer in Iowa City always sees a handful of great bands coming through on off-nights, on their way to weekend shows in the larger markets that surround us. Check out the “Summer Listening Guide” A.C. Hawley and Kent Williams compiled (with the help of some of IC’s top musicians), call in sick to work and drop a few bucks once or twice a week to show some love to the bands and bars that keep our thriving little music scene on the map.

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