It was a big night in Fort Collins. The Aggie brought in an impressive lineup consisting of some of the best jazz and funk artists touring today. Hodi’s was celebrating their grand re-opening under new ownership with Dave Watts and Friends (aka The Motet) and free beer. The people that wanted to party headed to Hodi’s, the music fans went to The Aggie. I honestly would have loved to catch both, but the amazing music unfolding before my eyes kept me from moving on.
Up first was Garrett Sayers Trio lead by bass virtuoso and local phenom Mr. Garrett Sayers. This lineup consisting of Garrett on bass, Patrick Lee on keys, and Johnny Jyemo on drums has had a longstanding Wednesday night residency at the Highland Tap & Burger. They have intrigued me for a long time, but this was my first chance catching them live. GS3 took the stage around 9:15 and dazzled the crowd for just short of an hour. It was a rollercoaster ride with this nimble trio weaving together a massive sound for such a tight unit. The diversity within the GS3, was evident from the beginning. Each member of the band seems to be coming from distinctly different musical backgrounds. The result was this amazing blending of funk, jam, jazz, R & B, and so much more percolated in and out of every song. Garrett Sayers Trio is an instrumental band as were all the bands on the bill minus Kung Fu who will occasionally feature a song with vocals. There is something freeing about going to see an instrumental band. The show doesn’t get all convoluted with silly things like lyrics. I’m being facetious but it really does allow the audience to focus strictly on the music. It was impossible not to focus on GS3 as all three members wowed the slowly growing crowd. They finished their remarkable set and headed down the road where Garrett joined his Motet band mates for their gig at Hodi’s. He really is a hard worker.
Kind Recordings has the show up on Archive. Thanks to Corey for taping the show. http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/gstrio2013-01-24.fob.mc803.kindrec
Last year jam super group Kung Fu made several visits to Colorado, and they definitely made an impression. This time they were on a 5-day mission from God that took them from Aspen through Breckenridge and down to the Front Range. This was night three of that run and their set again came in at just under an hour was truly mind melting. While the Aggie was only about a third full, I was impressed with the variety of people in the crowd. I chatted with a couple of older gentlemen who had won tickets off of the radio with little knowledge of what was in store for them. I saw young college kids mingling with middle-aged hipsters. Perhaps the most alarming thing about this show was the distinct lack of chatter during the show. As you can hear in the recordings, people were definitely there to see the music. Kung Fu is Tim Palmieri on guitar (The Breakfast), Robert Somerville on tenor sax (Deep Banana Blackout), Todd Stoops on keyboards (RAQ), Christopher DeAngelis on bass guitar (The Breakfast), and Adrian Tramontano on drums/percussion (The Breakfast). This is truly a powerhouse lineup that did not disappoint. They opened with “Do The Right Thing.”
Set 1: Do The Right Thing, Snaggle, Scapegoat Blues> Letters From Bobby Portugal> Hollywood Kisses, Chakrabarty Overdrive
Kung Fu is a hard-hitting amalgamation of funk-fueled fire assaulting the senses of all those who dare to enter the ring. It’s a constant onslaught from Palmieri who literally had to have a stagehand douse him with an extinguisher after his massive solo during “Scapegoat Blues.” “Hollywood Blues” was the only song of the entire evening that featured vocals. They closed their ‘not long enough’ set with “Chakrabarty Overdrive” which as it’s name would insinuate caused me to need to go outside for some air. Keep coming back Kung Fu, and keep playing bigger and bigger shows. Colorado needs your brand of funky goodness.
Finally it was time for the B3 master himself Robert Walter to take the stage with his 20th Congress. Now this band has had several incarnations and has a rotating list of members. Fans at The Aggie were treated to a stunning lineup consisting of Cheme Gastelum (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings), Chris Stillwell (Greyboy Allstars), and Simon Lott (Charlie Hunter Trio). Just unbelievable. They opened with a gritty “Hunk.”
Set 1: Hunk, Snakes & Spiders, Cory’s Snail and Slug Death, Sweetie Pie, Dog Party, He’s Really Gone, Rivers of Babylon, Get Thy Bearings, Who Took the Happiness Out?, Fox Hunting, Don’t Chin The Dog, Impervious, Instant Karma
Encore: Don’t Hate Congratulate
Robert Walter is best known for his work with Greyboy Allstars, however his solo band is truly not to be missed. I really felt that it has been such a long gap between his tours, that many are no longer in the know. And it’s too bad really, because the show we received from this lineup was nothing short of top notch. The lack of guitar really put the focus on Walter and Gastelum and their interplay was outstanding. The highlight of the show for me was the Phantom of the Opera-esque intro to the instrumental “Rivers Of Babylon.” They closed their set with a massive jam on Lennon’s “Instant Karma.” This is the caliber of music I would like to see more of on The Front Range. Despite the conflicting shows, I feel I made the right choice and left feeling musically satisfied in a way that I have not been in quite some time. Watching truly gifted musicians jam together is the reason I started really covering live shows. Seeing this stellar lineup on a Thursday night in Fort Collins just validates that decision.
My general aversion to electronic music is well known. Although I have enjoyed a few forays into the genre at Summer Camp last year my general reaction is not usually positive. However, I’ve seen some electronic groups that play organically, as a unit, and the music is more textural than dubstep. These are the types of electronic artists I’m drawn to. Particle is one such band. They are one of those bands that hit early Summer Camp lineups for three years between 2003 and 2005. Those early shows were a lot of fun as was their performance of 80′s tunes at The Aggie.
Up first was New Orleans natives EarPhunk. These guys are the next generation behind the Galactics and the Dumpstphunks of The Big Easy. The fluidly blend jam and funk in a balanced way that makes it fun for the audience. They did get riff-y at times, but that’s to be expected from a younger band still developing their sound. They started their set to a sparsely filled room, which would eventually get about a third full. Overall their brand funk influenced jam won me over and will give me plenty of reason to give them another listen.
Having seen Particle for the first time around 2001 in a tiny bar in Iowa, I’ve watched this band grow and evolve over the years. The recent inclusion of former full-time guitarist into the mix certainly seems to have reinvigorated Particle. Their show at the Aggie was both hilarious and technically stunning. Let’s start with the hilarious.
Set 1: Sledgehammer, Funkytown, Let’s Go Crazy, Electric Avenue, Once In A Lifetime, Pump Up The Volume> Rockit> Material Girl> Pump Up The Jam, The Final Countdown> Money For Nothing, Safety Dance> Launchpad Outro, It Takes Two>
Wild Thing> It’s Tricky> Bust A Move, Don’t Forget About Me, You Can Call Me Al, Sweet Dreams
Encore: Paradise City, Eye Of The Tiger> Sun Mar 11 Outro
From the opening guitar line of “Sledgehammer” I was grinning from ear to ear. Particle has their specific smooth style of electronica, but their take on the music of the 1980’s was fairly straightforward and strangely accurate. The setlist screams of lightheartedness, but don’t be fooled they absolutely shredded these classics. None more so the massive “Pump Up The Volume’ lead run that featured an enormous version of “Pump Up The Jam.” It was like a big musical sandwich with wheat bread on the bottom and rye on top. Particle never shied away from intricate composed pieces such as “The Final Countdown.” Perhaps the silliest moment of the night came in the form of “Safety Dance.” They ended the set with their version of the Eurythmics version of a country song, “Sweet Dreams.” The massive encore included a nod to both Guns N’ Roses as well as Survivor. It was just an amusing and entertaining show all around. Combe killed the guitar adding a new and interesting layer to their sound overall. Molitz continues to be the musical focal point with the lockstep rhythm section of Gould and Pujalet holding it all in check. Here is Particle back to their old tricks, firing on all cylinders, and truly gelling on stage. I would definitely do it all again.
Euforquestra returned to Fort Collins for a hometown show at the Aggie with friends Roster McCabe and D. Bess. Both Euforquestra and D. Bess have performed at Summer Camp. In FoCo Euforquestra historically has been a solid draw, but the venue never completely filled in on Friday. D. Bess is the former lead singer of Iowa City reggae outfit Public Property. He currently performs as a solo project utilizing loops and his diverse skills as a multi-instrumentalist. Playing a blend of originals and covers, he slowly built up each song one riff at a time. Having seen D. Bess before, I have to say that he as come a long way with his looping skills. His performance lasted just under an hour before he gave up the mic for Minneapolis’ Roster McCabe.
Roster McCabe is an amalgamation of jam. They blend elements of soul and funk with electronic, dance, and rock. The band has been making regular jaunts out to Colorado for years now, and continues to energize audiences throughout the country.
SET I: The Traveler, MMM, Spark A Light, Paper Crowns, Speed, Regulate, Stargazer, Take A Breath
Their one-hour set blasted by rather quickly leaving some fans wanting more. The silky vocals of Alex Steele washed over the crowd, as their consistent rhythm section made up of Jeff Peterson and Scot Muellenberg stayed tight throughout the set. This allowed for some incredible interplay between the guitarists. They ran the gamut alternating between funky break beats and an all out electro dance party. The powerful and progressive “Paper Crowns” acted as the anchor point of the set, but the funky, retro “Stargazer” was the highlight.
After a short intermission Euforquestra took the stage around 11:30 PM. They opened with a nasty version of Herbie Hancock’s “Hang Up Your Hangups.”
SET I: Hang Up Your Hangups, Let’s Dance> Called You, Hopscotch, Road Funk, Solutions, Price Is Right, Obatala> Change Me, The Events of December 11, Instant Coffee, Cause A Reaction, Dr. Standby> Sexx Laws
ENCORE: Yogi’s Day Out
You can download the show at http://archive.org/details/euf2012-10-06.mk41.flac16. Thanks to Eric Wilkens for posting.
Euforquestra is currently undergoing some changes. With the departure of original percussionist Matt Grundstad and bassist Ben Soltau, there has been a shift in the rhythm section. With Grosso moving back over to bass and newcomer Craig Babineau replacing him on kit, they were joined by yet another fresh face, Scott Mast on percussion. With all of the changes you would think that it would have a distinct effect on their sound, however I was amazed at how well they played together. A vocal rise gave way to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which really woke up the crowd and got the night going. The bouncy “Called You” broke down into riff-.y “Hopscotch” which really gave guitarist Mike Tallman a chance to rip it up for the audience. Fan favorite “Road Funk” was a nice addition to the set, with a huge “Solutions” waiting in the wings. The energy-infused “Obatala” into “Change Me” was yet another highlight in this non-stop dance party. This band has the ability to shoot out of the gate like a bunny-crazed greyhound, or step it back into a funky groove that soothes the soul. “December 11” has become another standard from Euforquestra, but the building groove of “Instant Coffee” was a nice change of pace. They ended the set with “Dr. Standby” into Beck’s “Sexx Laws. Euforquestra performed the music of Beck at this year’s Camp Eurforia and have been sneaking his songs into their setlists from time to time ever since. They are doing a Halloween tour featuring Beck’s music at the end of the month as well. They encored the show with Ross Martin’s “Yogi’s Day Out.” This was definitely an eclectic show from Euforquestra with a little bit of everything. They pulled out a few covers and showed that even with some changes in personnel that they will continue to play well and in a manner that fans have come to expect.