STONES THROW SOUL TOUR
feat. Dam Funk
w/Myron & E and The Stepkids
Dam Funk (pronounced “dame”) recently rolled through town with The Stepkids and Myron & E to play the The Crocodile, as part of the Stones Throw Soul Tour. For those that don’t know, Stones Throw Records is at the head of the evolution of soul and hiphop music, with a distinct vibe that has been curated by the mighty DJ/producer/label-head, Peanut Butter Wolf. With one foot firmly planted in the past glory of golden-era hip hop and another in the future of soul and urban music, they have carried the torch of J Dilla‘s legacy by creating new music that is both timeless and contemporary.
Dam Funk‘s set was a journey through the future on a Delorian made of gold, each beat shimmering with chorused electric pianos, robotic vocoder hooks, deep keyboard bass, and 808 claps. He’s the torch bearing champion of “Boogie“ music, that lost genre of post-disco electro-funk that emerged in the late 70s- early 80s.
He deejayed the night, dropping cuts from his album Toeachizown through a laptop using Serato, and the addition of a couple of synths on hand. [For you fellow synth nerds, he was running a Roland keytar through a Micro-Korg synth]. There were 80s boogie hits, some early Chicago house, Minneapolis funk, and Dam Funk songs with bass that seemed to register on the richter scale. His own music speaks to the dance floor, but also on an intellectual and emotional level–tales of love, the joyous affirmation of life, and a strong head nod to keeping the funk alive. When he dropped his collaboration with Snoop Dogg, you could feel the crowd shift into party mode. That was when my friend nudged me and said, “Snoop Dogg make everything sound better.” Agreed–especially, on some Zapp funk beats that smack you upside the head with reverbed claps. This is original “G” funk, new & improved.
People danced and danced as Dam lifted the DJ veil by gently speaking into the mic to let us know who each song was by and what year it was recorded. This was a man who was serious about the roots of his inspiration. He would blast you off into the future with his songs, then mix in the tracks that layered the yellow brick road for his own music.
His stage presence was serious in many ways, complete with a stop in the show when mics needed to be fixed, at which point, he extolled that other artists might go insane and throw a fit, if there was that level of technical difficulties. But not Dam Funk, he’s iceberg-in-hell cool, as his set seemed to bring the warm breeze of L.A. into the Seattle club. Dam eventually stepped out from behind the wheels of steel and sang front and center with ever present blasts of smoke machines an colored lights around him. The stage was so smoky that he was in a constant haze, and the music was also very blunted in that sense. You could feel the Jheri curl juice flying out of a droptop cadillac with each jam. There also appeared to be the sweet smell of skunk herb rolled in cognac blunt wraps wafting through the venue. Was that all a dream? Nah, Dam Funk created a real Los Angeles vibe that was undeniable–fresh, electric, and even a tad dangerous.
When Dam Funk grabbed his keytar and worked his magic, he did so until the record literally stopped. He would be center-stage in the middle of ripping a monster solo, while ladies grabbed at him and people cheered, and then the song would suddenly end. He would then finish up his synth licks, before casually walking back to the turntable to start a new jam. There was an awkward silence that seemed to let us know that this nasty funk was on Dam‘s terms. It all seemed to contribute to the mystique of this man, hidden behind sunglasses in a dark club, taking you on a journey that you would be a fool not to follow him on.
The show was almost stolen by the retro soul stylings of Myron & E. A modern day Sam & Dave, it was as if you knew all of the songs, even though you had never heard them before. It was the goodness of soul music where the evil of the world fades away and Myron & E are there to hold your hand and guide you to the promised land. They were there to remind us of the joys of love and the heartaches and misses that make love such a hot/cold game. Their album Broadway was an intercontinental affair, with music recorded in Helsinki, Finland with the European soul heroes, The Soul Investigators. The tracks were then sent to L.A. where Myron & E worked their magic on them. I picked up a vinyl copy of the record and it has been on heavy rotation since.
The middle set of the show was rocked by the Stepkids, who would later back Myron & E, and who’s own set I was not particularly feeling. Their sound was almost like a mashup of Weezer, Talking Heads, Phish, and Abba. It was a little too jammy in that sense, although, at times I was propelled to tap my feet when they hit a disco beat or serious groove. In the end, it didn’t help them that Dam Funk casts such a long shadow.