live review: volifonix, excellent gentlemen, & just people – doug fir – 8/11/11

You guys. I haven’t seen a live show in months. Months! I will be the first to admit that I have been No Fun and sometimes a Party Pooper. I’m not sure what got me into that rut, besides awesome video games. Seriously, Fallout: New Vegas has taken away a lot of my time. Plus I was kind of broke, from buying so many video games. While I do occasionally feel slightly bad for not leaving my computer chair some days, I really don’t regret buying video games or playing them with joy. I love video games. But that’s a blog post for another day.

My girlfriend’s cousin Peter is in a band called Just People, and he was arguably somewhat instrumental[1. Is that a pun? Oh lord.] in getting her to stay in Eugene, OR, rather than flying off to Hawaii and never being heard from again. Peter is about to move up to Portland, and the rest of the band is already here, so whenever they play a Portland venue, we go, because they’re genuinely a good band, and Peter is an excellent guitar player, and their shows are always fun and lively.

Last night we made the trek to the Doug Fir to see these three bands play. I hadn’t been to the Doug Fir in a long time. Their burgers are still delicious. Their bartenders still take forever to acknowledge your existence. That mannequin in the window still freaks me out.
The venue wasn’t especially packed the entire night, which is a shame because Portland, for god’s sake, you need to go and enjoy this kind of music. No more Horse Feathers. No more twangy jangly Appalachian music. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of going to see a show and getting four dudes with huge beards, and one woman playing quarter notes on a violin, like before the show they gave her a goddamn lobotomy or something. It’s ridiculous. It’s time to embrace the funk. It’s time to, as Technotronic said back in 1989, “pump up the jam.” And thankfully, that’s what happened last night.

First band up was Volifonix, a quintet from Eugene playing a jambandesque funk mix that was immediately enjoyable. The lead singer reminded me of a jammier version of Electric Six (minus the humor). They also had elements of early Living Colour in their sound, which is always a plus in my book. Also their bass player, Elijah, was pretty knocked out, but really, he kind of has to be, considering that genre of music demands a strong rhythm section.

Anyway, they blasted through a great set, really set the bar high for the entertainment for the night. The highlight, of course, was when their saxophone player, Tomo Tsurumi, hailing from Japan, performed some awesome Japanese rap over a song called, I believe, “Wow Wow Wow Wow.” A woman I can only assume was his mother was in the audience, dressed, for reals, in what looked like a traditional Japanese kimono, and just looking happy as a god damn clam watching her son take the stage. I loved it. I lover her maybe more than the song itself, to be honest. It was sentimental, okay? So Tomo, thank you for that, and kanpai!

After Volifonix was my unexpected highlight for the show: Excellent Gentlemen. I must admit, up front, that I am a huge Stevie Wonder fan, as well as all the funk music I’ve gotten my grubby paws onto. So when Excellent Gentlemen began playing (I had no idea what I was about to listen to), I was blown away. They wear their influences on their sleeve – Stevie, of course, and some modern day Cee Lo as well[2. Of course, Cee Lo wears his influences on his sleeve as well…], and generally any funk band that uses a talk box (Roger Troutman, for example). They blew the roof off the place, to be honest. They were tight, they were confident, and their music was perfectly composed and excellently performed. And their drummer looked like he was a line cook at a restaurant. I just have to say that. Kind of off topic, I know, but never before have I seen anyone, much less a drummer for a band, and immediately thought, “That guy looks like a line cook!” I don’t know. It was the black baseball cap coupled with his shirt. He looked like a line cook! It was uncanny.

I would like to go off on a tangent for a bit. If you haven’t signed up for Spotify yet, please do so. It’s amazing, and even more importantly, you can listen to all the bands from this review there! It’s a hell of a lot easier to do this than to try and find their music to steal online. Look, I’ve stolen a lot of music online in my day, and that’s because there was no outlet to listen to music before I bought it. Spotify solves this. You can listen to an album and not feel too bad because there are some ads (or you pay a fee to remove the ads) and at least the band gets some of the profit. Not a lot, I know, but some.

Obviously, the best way to support a band is to see them live, and/or buy their merch, especially if their merch is self-released. The more money that goes straight to the artist, the better, I say. But at least with Spotify, you’re not outright stealing music from the internets. The internets is bringing you music! It’s saying, “Hey, here’s some music for you to listen to. Yeah, there’s some ads, and yeah, they are some of the most annoying ads you’ll ever hear, with some of the worst music you’ve ever heard, but at least you’re not a dirty thief, right?”

Alright, back to the topic at hand. Just People! I’ve seen them play a couple of times now and they always impress me. They’ve got a great following and really lively, engaging jamband music, without being too jambandy. You know what I’m talking about. I’m not a huge fan of the jamband scene, so I get leery at listening to those kinds of bands, especially ones I’ve never heard of before, but JP puts on a great show, and they defy the jamband stereotype by having strong lyrics and tight songs. Very upbeat and powerful. I was worried that, after the awesome performance from Excellent Gentlemen, maybe they wouldn’t be able to compete, but they did, and then some. Not that music is a competition, except maybe a friendly competition, wherein all candidates try to out-funk each other[3. Don’t confuse this with the hipster version of “out-funking,” which is when they compete to see who smells the worst.].

And that was it! A really stellar night. This company called AudioGlobe was streaming the show for free on their website, and making copies of the show for people who wanted to pay five bucks. So I now have a live set of Excellent Gentlemen from that night. Pretty sweet!

By Josh

I'm the guy who owns this site, ya dummy.

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