New York to Cork – More Than Just a Subway Away
So the story of Too Many Zooz is one I’ve loved following for a while now. Too Many Zooz consists of trio Leo Pellegrino on Saxophone, Matt Doe on Trumpet and David ‘King Of Sludge’ Parks on Percussion. Originating in 2013, the trio rose to rapid viral fame in 2014 after a video recording of them playing in Subway stations in New York blew up on the internet, gaining attention worldwide, including from myself in Ireland. They quickly became known for their intense and unique sound, spearheading the way forwards in a new genre of their own definition: Brasshouse. Another notable feature from the viral video that added to the incredible appeal of this group was Leo’s slick dance moves as he played the saxophone. The trio released 3 EP’s in 2014 called ‘F Note’, ‘Fanimals’ and ‘Brasshouse Volume 1: Survival of the Flyest’, followed by an EP in 2015 called ‘The Internet’. I bought the 4 of them in virtual format at the time as a show of support, as I was quite intrigued by this discovery. I enjoyed the music they were creating, and maybe a year or so later I’d even end up finding a practical use for some of their songs. Due to the intense nature of the sound in much of their music, especially right from the get-go oftentimes, what ended up happening was I replaced the alarm tone on my phone with the likes of their songs ‘F.W.S.’, ‘Flightning’ etc. for a much livelier start to my day as a struggling sleeper. Too Many Zooz has remained an integral part to my start of every single day ever since. Below you can catch a short video akin to that of the viral video that spread so widely of Too Many Zooz, albeit missing third member Matt Doe. I do recommend checking out some of their other subway performances, they are just masterpieces. Just after 1 minute mark you can also catch one of my favourite of Leo’s dances, as he side-steps in 360 degree circles while playing in a manner that seems so effortless and yet challenging at the same time.
It had never really occurred to me in 2015 that one day I’d get to see Too Many Zooz here in Ireland. They were across the globe busking in Subways and going viral on Youtube and Facebook, I was in Cork waking up in the morning to a dose of ‘Concerto for Bari and Sludge’ before heading to work. That was soon set to change however, as the group anticipated creating their first full length album, and they looked to their hugely growing fanbase for support to get it going. Utilizing the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, the group managed to raise over $100,000 from nearly 3,000 people across the globe towards the ultimate goal of creating their debut album ‘Subway Gawds’, which they managed to release in 2016. 2017 rolled around, and I got my first indication that maybe I’d actually get to see Too Many Zooz live, as I saw their name announced for a gig at The Sugar Club in Dublin in July. Unfortunately that didn’t work out in my own schedule and I never got to see them at the time. However, in August or September, I learned that they were coming right to my doorstep, playing Cyprus Avenue on the 4th of November. I couldn’t believe it, this internet sensation half the world away was going to be playing live and in a totally accessible spot for myself. I was on the tickets immediately and picked one up for myself.
Eventually November 4th rolled around – A hectic enough day that I had triple booked with events, though this being a midnight gig remained unaffected by any schedule clashes. I had just departed my previous gig seeing The Elation at Crane Lane which you can read about in the prior blog post to this, and I headed to Cyprus Avenue around the corner to continue my evening. They had drawn quite a crowd for the event, with the queue heavily bunched up as people tried to escape the rain. Once inside the venue, I noticed that there was some cool merch on display from Too Many Zooz. With a net worth of approximately 15 euro to my name, I cursed myself and my poor economical choices earlier in the evening: I had 20 euro earlier, but bought a pint when watching The Elation. Too Many Zooz had hoodies for €20, or the vinyl of their album ‘Subway Gawdz’ for €20, a pickup I would have very much desired to get. I did at least come away with a cool shirt, though wishing I had more money to get some cooler items. I’ll simply have to endeavour to get that vinyl at another opportunity.
Jay Ronic & Stevie G.
I hadn’t been aware of a support artist beforehand, however it transpired that Cork hip-hop artist Jay Ronic would be taking that mantle, kicking off the night. Joining him to spin on the decks was none other than Cork’s widely known DJ Stevie G. Jay built up the hype with ease, working off the crowd to set up the atmosphere. One of his most prominent songs he worked with on the evening is his current single ‘Money & Beef’ I hadn’t seen Jay Ronic before so I was happy enough to be delving a bit further into the Cork Hip-Hop scene after my earlier discoveries of the likes of Trigger. He rocked his moment on the stage with a lot of energy and character, and a number of his mates flitted in and around the stage at times in behind, dropping to the floor with a bit of break dancing or rocking around by his side. It was good fun and I’m sure I’ll probably see Jay around again in the not too distant future.
Too Many Zooz
Next up was of course Too Many Zooz. Leo rocked a fresh new dye of his stylish locks with a bright green finish, replacing what had previously been a Hot Pink colour that had faded to a bit of a candyfloss shade. And as my alarm clock began to play live on the stage in front of me, it was evident from the start that this moment wasn’t calling me to just wake up, but to come alive. The energy they were bringing to the place was absolutely phenomenal, the floor came alive as the mass of bodies became an ebbing and flowing wave of movement, everyone jostling to dance their socks off. I’ll be honest, I’m not usually compelled to dance, I’m a foot-tapping head-nodding stationary fellow most of the time when it comes to music. King Kong Company successfully had me moving a bit the week prior, but being here right in the thick of the action, I was uncharacteristically and with complete ease drawn to lose myself to the moment completely and utterly. Swept into the pace of the gritty and sweat streaming pit of dancing, I was aware that this was just about the closest thing to a Mosh Pit I had ever experienced. There was no small amount of dance orientated pushing and shoving to the intense music, and with each backwards and forwards wave the unified dancing created, positions in the crowd swapped as people snuck through the cracks and crevices the moving bodies created. I partook to the same extent, often finding myself in the very front, to 4 lines behind, and back to the front again.
On the stage, Too Many Zooz were everything I had imagined and hoped they would be live, and then some. Leo’s awesomely stylish wardrobe particularly on this evening his denim jacket with a cool serpentine design cut out of the back, his slick moves and seemingly endless supply of stamina for his constant barrage of Saxophone were all there in abundance. Matt provided the solid backbone with his trumpet, and The King of Sludge had no shortage in his own antics. Besides incredibly consistent and tireless playing of his modified kit strapped to his front, he also at one point proceeded to parade around stage flaunting to the crowd with some form of either fake or dead rat, it was difficult to tell. The entire night was a sight to behold and an experience never to forget, the incredible amount of energy these lads have is something else altogether and they translate so well from the subway act to the live-stage performance into all hours of the night. With any luck, this wont be my last time catching Too Many Zooz, as they surely have a bright and prosperous future still to go ahead of them that hopefully will see them come back Cork way again.