Live Music: The Pimps of Joytime, the Independent, San Francisco, 1/28/12

Written by Concert Reviews, Music

The Pimps of Joytime lit up Divisadero Street in San Francisco this past weekend, playing back-to-back sold-out shows at the pristine sounding Independent and giving all the patrons in attendance serious cause to dance. The Pimps of Joytime were joined by local stalwart Eric McFadden, who lent his much acclaimed guitar prowess to the group throughout the night. McFadden has sat in with everyone from George Clinton to Eric Burdon and the Animals, and though the Pimps are led by multi-instrumentalist Brian J, McFadden’s presence was certainly a driving force to their live set, his contribution rounding out the band’s signature funk with a darker rock edge.

On Saturday night, the Brooklyn based ensemble opened with “San Francisco Bound”, an appropriate (and auspicious) track that paved the way for a long set of rock infused funk and soul music. And all throughout, the people could not stop dancing. It’s rather rare to see a live band incite a packed room to move tirelessly to the music all night, but the Pimps brought a level of energy to the venue that was palpable and the crowd fed off it, resulting in the sort of giddy excitement that one can only find on a Saturday night at a sold-out club with a really engaged audience and spirited live band.

Perhaps it was the addition of McFadden, with whom the band does not regularly play, but they were a little loose around the edges, a little less than tight and spot-on, but that imperfection did not detract at all from the infectious vibe of the show. Even if you aren’t a fan of all funk music (I, for one, get bored by the groups that rely too heavily on horns), the Pimps’ musical concoction serves as a testament to the vital musical movement of New Orleans, but theirs is also flavored by Latin, Afrobeat, salsa, and pop and redressed with an urban sophistication. The Brooklyn soul scene is a dynamo in the music world these days, with the Daptone label and artists like Sharon Jones and the Budos Band lighting up stages worldwide, and New York’s Pimps of Joytime are a reminder of how commanding music can be when it’s driven by the right blend of old school soul and led with an animated new vision. Even through the boozy haze that saturated the audience all night (as evidenced by the heavily frequented bar), the Pimps of Joytime’s charismatic live show was immensely memorable to the San Franciscans in attendance that night, and I’ll speak for all of us when I say our collective breath is bated until they come back and bring us more.

And it is only fitting that I now tip my hat to Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius, to whom the world sadly bid adieu this morning. Without him and the legacy he paved, the sounds of soul and funk would be much quieter, and much less colorful too.