Recently I made a pilgrimmage to Oaktown to hear a band that’s popped up on my radar, The Moonlight Orchestra; the conception of which is a perfect testament to the adage, If you build it they will come. They recently had their CD release party at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, which is a place that seems a must-do for serious bands and the home for bands with that certain something. All of the bands who have gone places from this area seemed to have sprung from the Bottom of the Hill, sort of a prerequisite lending street cred.
The MLO started with Hadi and Mehdi as a band of brothers; enter stage left two brothers with a passion for music as the driving force. As I sat down to talk with them after a show Mehdi mused on the band’s conception, “Even when it was just Hadi and I writing, playing and singing we still called ourselves the Moonlight Orchestra.” (laughs) ” Then it really became the Moonlight Orchestra.” After hearing their full, ethereal sound let’s be glad they didn’t start out as the Moonlight Duo. The intention was set and they serendipitously met Suchi out who mentioned in passing she was a violinist and would love to play. The seed of their idea started sprouting wings.
Roman who plays bass and keyboards worked in a music store with Hadi for a couple of years when he as approached by Hadi a year ago about the band. He had already been writing his own music but wasn’t finding the right musicians to play with. Again, the evolution was a natural progression. “They asked me to play bass, and although at the time I was not a bass player, I figured what the hell. And it went very well. I liked their songs and I came to love playing bass. They told me they had a keyboardist and a violinist, so I came back for more jamming and eventually it became a habit.”
They found their drummer Elliot on Craigslist as well as their cellist, Molly. The drummer is super-tight and the cellist add seemed a natural extension of the band’s sound which has a hauntingly beautiful, ethereal quality and perfectly supports Hadi and Mehdi’s soulful voices. Theirs is a sound sure to melt the audience, so leave the extra layers of clothing at home.
When I got to The Uptown (which is a perfect-sized venue with great acoustics) I parked myself back in a corner with the assistant manager Vivian as they soaked the airwaves. As I understand, they are writing all the time and I hope to see them out performing a lot more. Of course, you should check out their songs on Myspace, (favourites of mine are ‘I’ll Be Gone’, ‘Concerto’ and ‘Walking Alone in the Rain’) but seeing them live is a must. Also add them on Facebook for upcoming shows in the Bay Area.
As I bravely headed out of the club in my pink cloud, single female walking the streets of Oakland at night alone, I saw a wobbly, weaving figure about five yards ahead of me which soon disappeared into the recess of a building in front of me. A few more steps and a shoe box booking about 20 mph was hurled into my path from out of nowhere and I see the poor drunken lad as he screamed (with his outdoor voice) that I was a bitch. I wanted to tell him that I could appreciate his opinion although I might not share it. But the passion with which he expressed the sentiment and vitriol, ….”Well, you have to respect that.” I thought as I walked past laughing. Shoebox artillery aside, I am so glad I headed out to hear MLO, well worth the shoe war zone, and I will be the first to pimp their s**t. Check ’em out.