Moonstone Continuum
Photo by Maddy Nye

Moonstone Continuum


Sincerity is for the beasts. Idolatry is the proper mode of an erect species. Not blood, but tinsel courses through the veins of the authentic Gods. The night is when the paints of ambition are applied. Look to the moon, and its diverse reflections, for your sweet little piece of mind.

Moonstone Continuum is a conceptual ensemble on indefinite sabbatical in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a Northerly land of innumerable weedy beaches. At its burbling core Moonstone disguises unacceptable, private emotions in cosmetic Italian suits. Relying heavily on an often frantic theatrical component, live shows routinely feature visceral, ritualized audience interaction, with delicately manicured songs intended to move the passive listener to fits and seizures of raucous ecstasy. In the service of creating shows that are discreet aesthetic experiences, Moonstone has played such idiosyncratic venues as the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium and the historic Glensheen Murder-Mansion, as well as more traditional locales such as the Varsity Theater (with Night Moves) and the First Avenue Mainroom (with Solid Gold and P.O.S.). 

Previously, Moonstone offered show-goers a unique insider perspective on the terrifying realm of a fascistic cult known as Lunarianism. While the marketing lessons of pedaling a morally dubious faith continue to inform how Moonstone relates to the citizenry, the band has replaced the divisive trappings of folk religionism with the burnt-down cool of Miami’s golden years. In its incarnation as Moonstone Continuum: Salon Edition the band provides all the pomp and glitz of Biscayne Boulevard, but with a mouthful of the filth washed into the gutter after a seething tropical rain. The band’s tireless manager, J.Michael Fellows, has scoured every roadhouse, house band, and band camp to cobble together a group of healthy-looking young professionals who traffic simultaneously in the complex song structures and electronic textures of prog-rock, and the silken sensibilities and cleanly production values of R&B and Yacht-Rock.

The synthesis of Sean H. and A. Baum is the essential palette on which the Moonstone groove is born. Like anxious fingers up an alloy spine, Sean’s keyboard melodies quiver and chill inside your awaiting ear. At that interior moment, Baum’s twinkling fingerworks juice you on the vein; or else, his solo forays twist and dissipate like stray trails of cologne, gripping your full attention. Reminiscent of astral ambiance, the jangling of coins in a fur-lined pocket, the sheen of an impeccable landscape of pantyhose, these dark-haired mother-flickers dip you deep in the blue glowing plasma pool. Their flexing sexiness would outstrip any opposition, but Moonstone has a few more treasures clinking up its tree.

It’s not until the pungent candy of Jon Nielson’s guitar finger points in your direction that Moonstone is underway. Having spent years alone with his instrument and his guitar, JN has developed a frenzied and precise style that rips through the sheets with a singular mission for dark meat. So good, so good. But then, in the thrumming club of your body, Paul Pulio’s undeniable funk-bass yanks your pelvis here, there, onto the dance-floor, like an inevitable friend whose hand just happened to land right there! You’re molten in his licks, and he likes it that way.

If all this makes Moonstone seem an ungainly schooner, spewing sequins into the azure Caribbean eddies, then Annika Johnson’s sensuous drumming is the gilt anchor that strikes through the swirling elements. No one who ever groped two sticks at once has ever translated pure blear soul into percussive super-pleasure like this Johnson character! You’ll never last through her teasing, blasting, and beating.

As a result of their manager’s pains-taking and fundraising, Moonstone has recently enjoyed the rousing, lucrative honor of hosting the up-and-comer Mr. Tony Vang! The 2011 “Singers’ Nguyễn US-Eh!” Champion, Vang has literally entranced a herd of devotees who, although their statutory contribution to drink sales is suspect, positively pack the room with their inchoate, lusty enthusiasms. His tender vocalizing is like a muted purple kiss on the heart. So velvety a welcome, so pellucid a broth, his voice is a subtle but potent herb upon a band whose default serving is a bloody medium-rare. 

Finally, to smooth out this hot-bath of sexual delirium, there’s J. Michael Fellows himself. In extemporaneous interludes J. Michael regales the audience with anecdotes and furious wisdom from his decades as an elite party-master, and Impresario of Taste for Miami-Dade County. He’s exhausted from all the work he does, but his spirit remains somehow inhuman.

It’s twilight in the city of leathern moods. Over the distant saxophone moans, the cocktail-girls can’t stop lollipopping about the syrupy grooves of the Moonstone Continuum: Salon Edition. Strutting between pastel melodies that take you by the glove and that dancing beat that won’t waste time saying hello, if you can’t get your own Champaign flowing tonight, don’t worry baby, Moonstone’s got you.