If you haven't heard about the funk scene at Cervantes' yet, well that's too bad, because the scene is pretty much full. OK, so maybe it isn't quite full, but it's getting there. I've been checking out funk shows at Cervantes' ever since I found out they existed - which was only a little over two months ago. In that time, I've seen larger and larger crowds come out to join in on the fun, and Thursday night had to be the most packed house I've seen yet. I made it to Cervantes' a little later than usual, and there was already a long line out the door to get into the box office. I figured many might be checking out what was going on in the Masterpiece Ballroom, but when I finally made it into the Other Side, I was pleased to see an already packed tight room with much of the crowd fervently dancing - and the opener still had an hour left to go.
Up first on stage was Zobomazé (Zō·bō·mah·zā), a local Denver/Boulder psychedelic jazz-funk band. They are made up of Zach Simms on saxophone/keyboards, Doug Litvak on guitar, Sean Dandurand on bass, and Nick Miller on drums. This quartet produced a similar sound to what I heard on their album Steadfast Giraffe, albeit without the polished intricacies I heard on their composed effort. It was still a good performance, and they got plenty of positive energy from the crowd, it just didn't exactly meet my expectations.
|Zach Simms of Zobomazé|
I was expecting something more along the lines of the funky progressive psychedelia they had on their album, where the sudden twists and turns in each song were akin to listening to multiple mini songs from a range of genres in one musical piece. Zobomazé's live performance didn't quite give me that same feel - each song just seemed like a lengthy jam session without as much sense of order, direction, or variety. Don't get me wrong, these guys are talented musicians and their performance proved they are skilled at their various instruments, but I thought I was going to see a psych-funk band, not a jam band with jazz-funk tendencies.
If you are into jam bands, you'll probably find that this band is on point. Otherwise, their sound can get a little out there and they just might leave you a bit lost. To be honest, it took several listens of Steadfast Giraffe before I could sort out what was going on and really appreciate the nuances in each song, so maybe I personally have trouble sorting through it all in a live performance. Overall, I think they did a great job to open up the show and they had much of the audience very engaged throughout their set - so maybe it's just me.
|Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk|
Next up was the main event, the representatives of New Orleans style funk, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk. By the time Dumpstaphunk took the stage, Cervantes' Other Side was as full as I've ever seen. It seems people came out in droves to spend their Thursday night getting funky, and Dumpstaphunk was more than willing to deliver. With Ivan Neville on organ/backing vocals/guitar, Tony Hall on vocals/guitar/bass, Ian Neville on lead guitar, Nick Daniels III on bass/backing vocals, and Nikki Glaspie on drums/backing vocals, Dumpstaphunk was able to create an authentic funk sound that seemed like it came straight from the '70s but still fresh and modern. It was like they took the energy and funkiness of early Tower of Power and Earth, Wind & Fire, added a bit of The Meters and mixed it with that carefree, fun-loving New Orleans attitude, resulting in face-scrunching, head-nodding, body-moving funk perfectly fit to annihilate the dance floor.
|Ian Neville of Dumpstaphunk|
Dumpstaphunk did well to keep the groove going all night, and when it came towards the end of their set, they even got the whole crowd involved. They saved their theme song until near the end, and the crowd shouted along in chorus to "Put It In The Dumpsta", a song about putting all bad nerves, feelings and "unneccessary-ness we walk around with on a day-to-day basis" into the trash so you can let loose and have a good time. It was like a heavy dose of feel good funky medicine, and it certainly did the trick.
|Tony Hall of Dumpstaphunk|
They closed their set with "Meanwhile...", a song that warned "there might not be a next time/just shake your booty baby". It seems the crowd took the warning to heart and danced as fiercely as ever - enough to bring Dumpstaphunk out for one more song, a cover of The Isley Brothers' protest song "Fight The Power". It was another song that had crowd participation, as everyone was pumping their fists and shouting along. The encore song brought the crowd to an absolute boil - an incredible way to end the night. If you are a fan of funk, Dumpstaphunk's combination of stage presence and jazz fused down-home funk is absolutely sure to please. Catch them the next time you can and give up the funk, but be quick because the crowds keep getting larger and if you sleep on it, you might miss your chance.
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