A Saturday Night Kind of Pink – Houndmouth returns home for the holidays with a show that even Krampus couldn’t hate.


Photos by Katie Cummins

The lights at Houndmouth’s Dec. 22 show at the Louisville Palace

Words by Katie Cummins

Recently, I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a tweet.

A man had tweeted that he told someone from Louisville that he didn’t like Houndmouth and, as it turned out, the dude he was talking to is a member of the band. Houndmouth responded on Twitter by retweeting with the comment ‘It was pretty funny.’ It made me laugh, but it also made me feel like a part of Louisville’s own pop-culture. Everyone, even Taylor Frantum, the initial tweeter from Austin, Texas, knows that Louisvillians are obsessed with Houndmouth. 

The obsession might stem from the fact that the band was founded in 2011, right across the river in New Albany. There’s something about a hometown-grown band that really makes a place bop. Maybe everyone is imagining picking up an electric guitar or some drums or traditional Scottish bagpipes and starting their own band, just like the band they’re listening to. Maybe, like me, they have a weird connection to the band, like their friend’s dad’s cousin’s husband is the bassist. Or maybe they imagine going to the same grocery, or the same hair stylist, or driving down the same streets as the members of the band. Whatever the case, the Louisville Palace was most definitely bopping two Saturdays ago.

The Louisville Palace hosted “Krampus: A Holiday Houndmouth Show” on Dec. 22 to a packed theater full of Houndmouth fans. Boa, a local band that describes itself as a ‘groove psych band that blends elements of psychedelic, funk, and rock music’, was the opener. Their stage presence, which including but was not limited to your classic thrashing around on the stage, jumping on and off the five-foot speakers, and guitar solos performed on their knees, was almost as captivating as their music. As far as opening bands go, they were pretty good.

They kicked off the show with “Comin’ Round Again,” the most popular song from their most popular album, “From the Hills Below the City.” The instantly recognizable guitar riff from the beginning of the song instantly got the crowd onto their feet and dancing. A man several rows in front of me was playing the air guitar as the crowd sang along. Their set lasted a little longer than a half an hour and then the stage was devoid of musicians as the crew set up Houndmouth’s set. A lamp, a couch, and a Christmas tree created the same sort of straight from your living room and your collection of home videos vibe that they established with their 

Golden Age music video. They had the same stage lights from when they had performed at Forecastle last summer and a neon sign, featuring their iconic logo.

They played several songs from their most recent album, including “Coast to Coast”, “Waiting for the Night,” “Modern Love,” and “This Party.” Personally, I prefer the laidback, acoustic feel from their older albums as opposed to “Golden Age”, with its touches of electro-pop. In fact, leading up the concert, when I was listening to their music on shuffle, I merely tolerated their newer music. After hearing it live, though, I find it much more enjoyable and even find myself bopping to their newer music.

One thing that did stick out like a sore thumb, though, was the absence of Katie Toupin, their vocalist and keyboardist who left the band in April 2016. They didn’t play any songs where she was the lead vocalist, such as “Otis” from “Little Neon Limelight” or “Casino” from “From the Hills Below the City.” In my opinion, Toupin’s voice was one of the defining traits of the band. You don’t often hear strong female voices in indie-folk bands, so hearing her was always a nice refresher.

They did attempt to remedy the situation by bringing out Carly Johnson. Johnson is an amazing vocalist and Louisville-native, but she was no Toupin. She was only on stage for a couple songs, most notably “My Cousin Greg”. Her voice seemed out-of-place and awkward — not exactly aligning with the laid-back feel that the rest of the band seemed to radiate during that song.  

The rest of the performance was pretty stellar. I think that they did a nice job of incorporating their music from their older albums with their newer stuff. The crowd, which consisted of “cool” moms and dads, Millenials out with their friends, and the occasional well-cultured and extremely tasteful teenager (like myself), was up its feet the whole time, dancing and singing along. The crowd was especially animated during fan-favorites like “Say It” and “Honey Slider” from “Little Neon Limelight.” Songs like “Krampus”, which the show was named after, seemed to be especially emotionally charged. About half-way through, when they played “Penitentiary” from their self-titled EP, the audience got particularly wild during the line ‘she took a Kentucky shower.’

They capped things off with Sedona before leaving the stage momentarily only to come back on stage after the audience refused to stop clapping. Their encore consisted of “Darlin’” before inviting Boa and Carly Johnson back on stage to perform John Lennon’s “So This is Christmas”. The lights on the back of the stage flashed green and red and the scene was sappy enough to make Scrooge smile and Krampus abandon his Christmas-squandering tendencies.

Houndmouth remains one of my favorite bands, and despite Toupin’s departure, they can still put on a spectacular live show. It definitely ended up being just like how they describe Sedona: a Saturday night kind of pink.