For the second night in a row I ventured down to the Aggie Theater for some live music. It was a co-bill between local favorites Euforquestra and reggae powerhouse John Brown’s Body. It had been three years since JBB last performed in Fort Collins. I first saw JBB very early in my concert-going career; in fact they were a band that demonstrated to me what was possible on any random Wednesday night in a sweaty, crowed bar. The last time I saw them was around 2006 and seeing them live in Fort Collins it was evident that this band had evolved. As we entered the room Mikey Thunder was gracing the slowly growing crowd with a tasty mix of funk and jazz backed by some palpable beats. At times in the past I’ve found Mr. Thunder’s heavier electronic sets to be off-putting, but he actually sounded really solid. The audience was unenthused and Thunder politely called them on it. He also performed during the setbreaks, which seemed to help the overall flow of the evening.
Euforquestra took the stage and hit the fans with a saucy “Obatala” into “Change Me.”
Set 1: Obatala> Change Me, Road Funk, Soup, Backbone> Wasted, Madison Square, Solutions, 64/18, All The Light I Need, Dr. Standby
Euforquestra has been going through some changes, but watching them live you would never know it. Scott Mast continues to fill in on percussion with Craig Babineau holding it down on kit. These two are really starting to gel, which culminated in a huge back and forth drum jam during “Soup.” They continue to surprise me every time I see them perform together. Speaking of surprises Matt Wright’s vocals have added a whole new dimension to Euforquestra’s sound. However the most powerful moment of the set came when Austin sang “All The Light I Need,” which was a song he wrote to honor a fallen friend. They closed their set with “Dr. Standby.”
John Brown’s Body is another band that has gone through their fair share of hardship and change. With the passing of Scott Palmer in 2006 the band underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Through their sorrow they emerged as a more focused group blending new styles and pioneering what they call “Future Roots Rock.” They eased into the night with an organ-heavy “Ameliorate.”
Set 1: Ameliorate, Give Yourself Over, Following Into Shadow, The Grass, Plantation, Wellington Dub, Shine Bright, Make Easy, Empty Hands, Ambrosia, What You Gonna Do, 33 RPM
Encore: Peace, The Gold
The horn section consisting of Drew Sayers on saxophone, Scott Flynn on trombone, and Sam Dechenne on trumpet was the icing on the cake all night. They added a level of authenticity and panache to the JBB sound. Elliot Martin, the lead singer was as vibrant as ever and danced around the stage authoritatively. The sound had developed from the roots based songs of yore into something quite different. They were now adding elements of dubstep, hip-hop, electronica, and more to the mix in an attempt to be unique and to craft songs that are truly original. This was not your mother’s reggae. That being said they did have a nice mix of traditional and infused reggae. The highlight of the show for me was a fiery rendition of “Shine Bright.” While John Brown’s Body is not the same band I first saw in 2001 and 2003, they are continuing to blaze trails in the reggae world. They were a wonderful fit for Euforquestra and a great way to start the weekend. Let’s not wait another three years for JBB to return.
The Motet rang in 2012 with a funk-fueled extravaganza supported by Euforquestra at the Aggie in Fort Collins. Euforquestra is a multi-year alumni of Summer Camp, but surprisingly Colorado jam stalwart The Motet has never made the trek. We headed down to the show around 9 PM. The crowd was already gathering as Euforquestra took the stage soon after our arrival. They opened up with their now classic Cause A Reaction; here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Cause A Reaction, Road Funk, Feels Good, Melody Truck, Free >Excuse O, Berrington / Brown Medley, Fool In The Rain> Soup> Fool In The Rain, Life During Wartime, Feel Together
Their set was a high-octane journey through funk, afrobeat, reggae, and jam. There was a palpable buzz around the music as the show began. People were ready to say goodbye to 2011 in a big way with one last hurrah. Lasting around an hour and half the opening set took on a headliner feel. The temperature of the room rose as the people packed in tightly. In fact by the end of the set it was practically impossible to move around comfortably. The highlight of their set was their Fool In The Rain Sandwich with Soup taking the place of the beef. As the setlist indicated Life During Wartime was to be the close, but Euforquestra threw a cherry on the sundae with Feel Together. I was very happy with their set and by the end it was obvious they had made many new fans with this performance.
After a short equipment change The Motet took to the stage with members of Euforquestra around 11:30 PM. Opting for one long set this two-hour plus journey through electro funk and jam was the perfect way to ring in the New Year. They opened the show with Fela Kuti’s Expensive Shit. Here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Expensive Shit, Afrodisco Beat> NYE Countdown, I’ve Got That Boogie Fever, Power> Push> Power, Back In Love, Nemesis> Shakara, Shake Your Booty, Only So Much Oil, Roforofo Fight
ENCORE: Drop It In The Slot, Gas Money
The show might as well have been billed as Motequestra because that’s just what we witnessed. With the various members of Euforquestra bouncing on and off the stage The Motet were rarely playing alone. At times the horn section swelled to five members giving a full brass sound to many of the jams throughout the evening. These bands compliment each other so well mainly because they are both immersed in afrobeat and funk but Euforquestra has enough world flair to juxtapose nicely to The Motet’s electro edge. The New Year’s Countdown came quickly and I raced back from the front fearing I wouldn’t find Amy in time. Luckily she was waiting on the stairs for me and we got to take the leap into 2012 together. After the rowdiness of the countdown the show broke down into an all out dance-off. Arms flailed in the air as everyone shuffled for space on the floor. The Nemesis into Shakara was the highlight of the show and again demonstrated how deeply The Motet is interested in delivering the funk in a big way. The driving rhythm of Nemesis melted into the spacey afrobeat of Fela Kuti’s Shakara.
They ended their set as they began with yet another Fela Kuti tune. Roforofo Fight is another track that The Motet have pretty much adopted it as their own track and it was a great way to close the show. They encored with the one two punch of Drop It In The Slot and Gas Money. The pounding afrobeat and funky rhythms that permeated this show are the reason I see both of these bands. When they team up it makes for an incredible experience, and I was happy to welcome 2012 with them. Happy New Year everybody, I’m looking forward to another year of amazing live experiences and another year at Summer Camp.