The funk tends to bring the fun, and Saturday night’s installment of San Francisco’s 10th annual Funk Festival lured the city’s dance party people out to help Afrolicious and the Budos Band transform the Mezzanine into a full-on soul celebration. With a cold rain falling outside, deterring seemingly no one from making the pilgrimage downtown for the show, the venue became a hot musical haven, the night beginning with local DJ Motion Potion (ne Robbie Kowal, co-founder of the festival) spinning tunes amid projections of Soul Train on the wall behind him. Soul Train is truly one of the best television programs ever, the precedent it set for generations of soul lovers to get down in their best outfits, runway style, never far removed (at least in spirit) from any contemporary display of soul or funk music.
Afrolicious played support and broke up Motion Potion’s set with a long string of tracks, jamming the stage with members from their local musical collective. Afrolicious is known for their weekly residency at the Elbo Room, playing music in the ever-evolving genre of “Afro-Disco-Funk-Dub-Electro-Soul-Latin-Brazilian” as their facebook page succinctly states it. They had at least ten musicians performing with them, inciting most everyone in the room to stretch out and dance to their brand of high spirited “afrolicious” funk (sorry, couldn’t help it), until it became rather unmanageable to move around as the venue reached capacity and people flowed in for what must have eventually been a sold out-show. Exceptionally fun and ecstatic live set. Highly recommended.
Headliners the Budos Band are fast becoming one of the most talked about jazz-funk groups of today, in part because they are signed to the venerable Brooklyn based Daptone label, the home of, among other musical heavyweights, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. The Budos Band are actually from neighboring Staten Island, and that New York City bred sophistication and brashness is certainly present in their music, an eclectic mix of instrumental jazz, funk, and afro-beat. (Get that? No vocals.) They’ve been playing frequently around the country since the emergence of their first self-titled album in 2005 and have been enjoying a steady ascension to notoriety in jazz and funk circles over the past five years. Their music is much more jazz oriented and horn heavy than that of Afrolicious, darker and more experimentally driven too, making them a bit more challenging to flail around and dance to, but there is so much virtuosic intricacy in their compositions, and such a dynamic energy among the members of the band, that you could sit back and not move a muscle throughout their set and it’d still make for an incredibly entertaining show.
All in all, a fine showing of fantastic live music, and one of the most fun nights I’ve had on the town in recent memory.