I don’t really understand the magnetic force that somehow glues asses to seats when the opening band is on stage, but the Budos Band was not happy about it. NO ONE was standing and dancing during their set when I walked in shortly after 8. Not wanting to upset the cart full of lazy people, I went into the far aisle to get my swerve on. I got away with this for about 10 minutes before the Beacon’s crack security team put the clamps on my fun and ordered me to my seat.
Fine. I’ll be *that guy* and just dance at my seat. After all, this is not Lincoln Center. We are not here to academically ascertain the value of the music and then respond with a polite golf clap of approval.
So I grooved at my seat. Then three slobs behind me complained to a security guard that I was blocking their view, and she tried to make me sit. One of these complainers was a guy wearing a red velvet tuxedo, complete with matching ruffles. I’m sorry, but if you have the balls to wear a red velvet tuxedo complete with matching ruffles you can’t be sitting on your ass while the Budos Band plays. It’s not legal. Thankfully, another guard intervened on my behalf and confirmed my right as a citizen of the United States of America to freely express myself while listening to Afrobeat.
Meanwhile, the Budos Band repeatedly implored people to get up and dance. In turn, I shouted at everyone around me to get up off their asses and get into it. Everyone seemed to really appreciate this.
Eventually, my fellow renegades in the crowd emancipated themselves and our little dancing rebellion took hold. Unfortunately, Budos played a very truncated set, undoubtedly feeling less than inspired by the lame crowd, and they were off the stage by 8:50.
At setbreak, I finally realized that this was the kind of crowd I hate: NPR Democrats. Don’t get me wrong, my heart bleeds with the best of ’em, and I love NPR. However, NPR isn’t exactly cutting edge, as NPR prefers “palatable” to “rebellious.” By the time NPR picks up on something, it’s already been around for a few years. Now I’m not gonna fault these people because they’re late to the party. After all, I’ve been listening to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for close to six years now, and I begged my musically-inclined friends to give them a shot for about four or five years before people finally listened to me and realized that this was a killer act. However, the problem I have with these NPR Democrats is that they’re so damn straight-edge. Not everyone needs to two-fist their way through life, careening around corners with only one wheel on the ground, as I’ve been doing as of late, but listen up people: IT’S OKAY TO HAVE FUN. You won’t get hurt if you take the pole out of your ass and dance a little. You can get your groove on AND listen to “Fresh Air.” All Things Considered, dancing is good for you. Why don’t you lovers of “Car Talk” understand this? Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me– you’re waiting for Garrison Keillor to give you the thumbs up before you bust a nut on the dancefloor. Well, folks, here’s the news from Lake Woebegone: Diane Rehm is 71, but she can still do the worm.
Without the usual crowd of skilled, dancing gay hipsters from (insert name of the latest fashionable neighborhood in Brooklyn) down front, I was concerned about the potential failure of this concert. As Miss Jones has gotten older, she has relied more frequently upon these gay hipsters to entertain the New York crowd with their flashy moves, and it’s worked. When they aren’t in attendance, as was the case at the show I saw in Philly in December, the energy just isn’t on the same level.
So here we were. A sold-out room full of the whitest people this side of a Wonder Bread convention. The Beacon Theater was filled with so many crackers that it looked like a giant box of saltines. I hadn’t seen this many honkeys since the last time I was the guest of honor at a Klan rally. Okay, I’ll stop now.
The Dap-Kings came on stage, and Binky Griptight revved up the crowd. Most of us got up, which had me relieved. There was some Great White Hope in this room, after all. The few sitters changed their tune after the dynamic soul sister with the magnetic je nes sais quois made them get up and get funky.
What can I say about this band that I haven’t said before? I love them. In my book, they’re the cat’s ass. They know how to transform a room, and it was amazing to see this happen in a 2,800 seat venue. Granted, I never again want to see them play a seated venue with Draconian security like the Beacon (Dear Booking Agent, Please look into the Nokia Theater. Your pal, Brian), but even the challenges of this venue were no match for their awesome funk power. There was a little less pulling people up on the stage than you would normally see, but that meant that Sharon and crew had to work a little harder. And they did. And we all enjoyed it.
It was a nice touch to have the Bushwick Philharmonic add some strings, and the Dansettes, whom I thought were extinct, sang backup that was barely audible. (Side note: The one Dansette who always looked like she’d rather be filing her nails has thankfully been replaced, although my hunch is that these were really 3/4s of The Sweet Divines. I’m sorry if I’m not totally up-to-date on the inner-workings of the Brooklyn-hipster-girl-group-retro-soul-scene.) The strings really added a lot to one of my favorite tunes, “Tell Me,” a song which I had never heard live and whose inclusion caused me to freakout (moreso than usual). Since the strings were there, I was really hoping for one of the most gorgeous songs ever written, “All Over Again,” but knowing that the audience had an addiction to sitting, the band wisely steered clear of the ballads.
The set lasted close to two hours, and the demand for an encore was great. This was one area where those NPR Democrats excelled: they knew how to clap with authority. Unlike most shows I’ve seen lately, the crowd wasn’t comprised of jaded New Yorkers who thumb their nose at the whole we’re-pretending-to-leave-so-you’ll-clap-loud-and-“force”-us-to-return charade. These people took the bait, and God bless ’em for it. The band came back and hit it with intensity once again. When they left, there were still 10 minutes remaining before the Beacon would undergo its union-enforced turn into a pumpkin, but even these guppies down front were bitter enough to know that the elusive second encore wasn’t worth the effort. One day, I would love to see a genuine, honest-to-goodness, second encore that hasn’t been previously planned. (Did you hear that Bob Dylan? Your shit doesn’t count.)
After some refueling, I reunited with the merry pranksters down at Nublu on Ave. C for some Mocean Worker. After he rocked the Freaks Ball with funktacular abandon, everyone has decided to enter the Mowo, and that makes me one very happy boy. Nublu is a really cool little joint. It’s not big enough to call it a club. It’s not seedy enough to be a bar, so maybe “lounge” is the appropriate word. Anyway, I dig it and its chill vibe. While the Freaks Ball featured a completely different Mocean Worker than I had ever seen, this show was yet another turn for Adam Dorn. The funk was dark and spacey, and it completely fit the vibe of the place. I do wish they would have played more than two 45 minute sets. However, the DJ in between was spinning something that I’d probably never choose to listen to, but at that moment in time, the funky trance was just what the doctor ordered (even though it was played at a comically deafening volume). ‘Twas a perfect nightcap for an evening of funk and soul, and even though it ended somewhat early around 3AM, there was still plenty of time for me to get into some stupid fun and hi-jinks, but that’s a different long-winded story…