Never-ending: Funk jams to disco and back

Southside Funk Brothers
at West Main
July 24

I made my second attempt to check out the band Southside Funk Brothers at West Main Saturday, July 24, and I'm happy to say things went a lot better this time around.

Trying to review a band and hold a conversation with old friends is not an easy juggling act, I've learned, and as we arrived shortly before the band started, we were relegated to the economy seats off to the side. Thanks to the slight crowd's penchant for dancing to the Brothers' jammy funk sounds, I had no problem finding a seat, and I settled down with my pals, one named Newcastle, to absorb.

On stage in front of me appeared three gentlemen rocking a bass, multi-tiered keyboard setup and an extensive and expensive-looking drum set. As the pop bass riff led the song along, I was instantly struck by the drummer's precision– if I had been struck blind in the basement of West Main that evening, I might have been fooled into thinking the on-the-mark beats were the product of a machine. I was instantly impressed.

As the song progressed, the tempo went up, up, and away (something I like to call "The Superman Effect")– faster and faster until lo and behold! suddenly the group was playing disco. At this moment, the guitarist, who had been mostly hidden off to the left as he changed a string (that's at least how it appeared), invaded the trio's sound with some masterfully played lead triplets and other '80s-shredding memorabilia.

After a short break, the group burst into their second song, and on this one the keyboardist blew me away. The song was a verse/chorus/verse-type quick jam where each performer (except possibly the drummer), was given a chance to solo to his heart's content– the keyboardist's slightly bluesy and learned rock riffs endeared him to me, though my friend said she would be more impressed if he had used them for Rachmaninoff– a confirmed classics lover if I've ever heard one. (I replied that he would get significantly fewer chicks if he took that route.)

The audience the whole time consisted of about eight lively dudes and coeds with beer in their glasses and getting down in their hearts– unseated, they pranced around the small dance floor in front of the band, often, it seemed, to a beat all their own. As the minutes clocked on, my sense of time became warped– watching a group play one number for over 20 minutes can do that– so I took a little breather.

From upstairs, seated at a booth, I could hear the song continue, led by the same bass line, into the night.

Southside Funk Brothers