Keytar Hero!: DâM Funk + Stones Throw Crew @ The Echo (11/19)
It was a shambolic, funky night at the Echo.
This is what was supposed to happen: Stones Throw had arranged a shindig for the release of Toechizown, the new album by DâM Funk, LA's
self-procclaimed [see comment below] "Ambassador of Boogie Funk."
Mr. Funk was supposed to have gone up at 11, after an announced bill that included sultry underground soul songstress Jimi James, Detroit's turntablist Kyle Hall, and a set by DâM's side-project (or is it main project?) Master Blazter.
It didn't quite work out like that.
By 11 Kyle Hall had just gone up and the Echo felt a little empty. Stones Throw had arranged for a custom T-shirt maker to set up shop by the merch table and a large part of the crowd was listening to B-side DJs in the smoking tent. Hall is impressive at the decks in an off-the-cuff, mix-and-match kind of way, and, though he failed to ignite a full-on dance party, the slowly swelling crowd seemed to appreciate his set.
A special treat, and a nice way to establish one degree of separation with the legends of 1970s funk, was the presence of legendary artist and illustrator Overton Loyd, long-time art director for George Clinton and his P-Funk empire. The man who brought to the page unforgettable Funkadelic characters such as Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk placed his paper and pastels right at the edge of the stage and proceeded to dazzle the audience with beautiful live sketches of the performers. The affable Loyd was surprised by a guy who had tattooed Sir Nose on his bicep. "You're crazy, man," Loyd laughed, somewhere between bemused and flattered.
Gustavo Turner Detroit's Kyle Hall
After Hall's set, the unmistakable figure of Stones Throw honcho Peanut Butter Wolf, wearing his little hat and his burgundy Cossack-style shirt with the authority of a man who makes things happen, took the stage. Given the hour and the (always absurd) 2AM mandatory closing time, we expected him to be there merely to present the headliner. But it wasn't DâM Funk time yet.
Gustavo Turner "You're crazy, man"
We were treated (and it is always a treat) instead to a short set of videoscratching by PBW, well received by the now capacity crowd of the usual Eastside groovers who follow the label.
PBW's video jam of synth-heavy 80s soul (a young Prince, etc.) went over well, but he clinched the deal with a finale involving a dancing little kid. So cute--you can never go wrong with dancing little kids, and the crowd (particularly some ooohing and aaahing childbearing-age ladies) ate it up.
Gustavo Turner Peanut Butter Wolf
Finally, DâM Funk took the stage, backed by Computer Jay and Jay-1, his Master Blazter cohorts, and opening act Jimi James as backing vocalist. DâM (pronounced "Dame," short for his government name "Damon") cut a great figure onstage, even before strapping on the Roland keytar he played for most of the show. With his signature curls reined in under a thowback black cap and his pilot shades, he did not look unlike Ike Turner, which is pretty uncanny given that Jimi James behind him looked like a harder Rihanna playing the Angela Basset part in What's Love Got To Do With It.
Gustavo Turner PBW deploys the "Cuteness Overload" strategy