Too Many Zooz turn it out at Variety Playhouse

Photo courtesy of Too Many Zooz

YouTube has somewhat democratized the music industry and allowed the rise of many artists that otherwise would not have had such success. More famous examples of this phenomenon are Justin Bieber,  Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes. Too Many Zooz followed suit and used the online video platform to take them from subway stations to a
world-wide tour. 

On Thursday, Dec. 16, Too Many Zooz made an appearance at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points. 

The band is made up of trumpetist Matt Muirhead, drummer David “King of Sludge” Parks and baritone saxophonist Leo Pellegrino. Zooz got their start playing outside of New York City subway stations in 2013. They began uploading these performances to YouTube and garnered millions of views. In the seven years since, they have released six EPs and one LP. Their most recent album, “ZombiEP”, debuted in
September 2019. 

The trio’s genre is self-defined as brass house, but that may be a bit misleading. Their sound could also be described as a jazzy, mini marching band with some EDM backings.

When asked about how they plan sets on a Reddit AMA, the Zooz responded, “We have a set list but it is more like planned improvisation.” They then clarified that, out of this improvisation, many of their songs are created.

This quote describes the experience of a Too Many Zooz concert aptly. It was nearly impossible to place when one song ended and the next began. All of their music is loud and high energy with an infectious beat. The fact that the songs easily flowed one into the other kept the audience going and ensured that there was never a lull in the crowd.  

Throughout the entire two hour set, the energy in the room was frenetic. The concert goers were diverse with ages ranging from high schoolers to parents. Despite this, the reaction to the band was pretty unanimous: Too Many Zooz might be a little out there, but their audience is right out there with them. 

Aside from the music, much of the room’s energy was owed to Pellegrino’s performance. While the other members remained stationary on the stage during songs, Pellegrino made up for it with constant movement. Even with the heavy baritone sax, his feet did not rest for one second. His dancing was suggestive in an over-the-top manner as he bounced
around the stage. 

While the trio played together for most of the concert, each of the members got a turn to take center stage with their instrument and go solo. Parks’ turn was especially captivating. His bass drum was tricked out with other instruments cobbled on top. Among other things, there was a tambourine, a cow bell and a tiny cymbal. Using this ragtag assortment of instruments, Parks was able to create unique beats that
captivated the audience.

The band’s clothing was literally electric. Muirhead wore a construction hard hat and jean vest, Parks sported a crown and Pellegrino also had a jean vest that was studded with LEDs. The lights blinked on and off and changed color in time with their music. The overall effect of this electric fashion was pretty futuristic. Their attire only emphasized their unique music style and the fact that this band cannot
be put in a box. 

Too Many Zooz played half of their set before they finally addressed the audience. This trend persisted throughout the concert, as Zooz primarily communicated via their music. The few instances in which they did stop playing to speak, however, were notable. Parks created a moment of silence seldom seen at live shows before saying, “Believe me, the subway didn’t happen in one day, and it did not happen overnight. It took a lot to get here, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of time, a lot of believing in myself.”  

Busking in the New York City subway sure taught Too Many Zooz how to perform. Their music might not conform to everyone’s tastes for casual listening. When played live, though, it is undeniable that it creates the perfect atmosphere for an engaging and exciting show. Make sure to catch the band next time they come to Atlanta for a lively and energetic performance.