Mardi Gras weekend in New Orleans is always loaded with great music all over the city. Personally, this carnival season was my busiest musically as each day was graced with beautiful tunes pouring out from venues around the Big Easy. One show in particular was exceptional and had everyone in the crowd groovin’ late into the Mardi Gras night-Earphunk. This was no surprise to me. I have seen this band evolve throughout the past few years into to a jam-funk force now fresh off of a West Coast tour.
Tonight’s show would bring the boys back to their roots to a sold out house on Frenchmen Street-The Maison. What Broadway is to theatre, Frenchmen Street is to music in New Orleans. I have seen Earphunk many times on this beloved street, and every time the particular venue has become progressively more crowded as the New Orleans natives gain more and more fans at a electrifying rate. I had been anxiously awaiting the “phunk” for days as the emerging jam masters made their way back down south. I had been hearing great reviews of their shows on the West Coast and could not wait to see how the touring life had elevated their play. To say the least, I, among with all the other groovin’ Mardi Gras goers, was not disappointed.
Fellow local funk act, Naughty Professor, provided a fantastic opening to the night as their high-energy jams set the tone for the evening. I have seen these guys a few times now and really enjoy their passionate performances. After the 6-piece band put the music lovers in a dancing mood, Earphunk took the stage to an ecstatic and screaming crowd right off the parade route.
The quintet-comprised of Paul Provosty (guitar), Mark Hempe (guitar/vocals), Chrisitan Gallé (organ/keyboards), Michael Comeaux (bass), and Michael Matthews (drums)- walked on stage, and one could feel their excitement of being back in front of their hometown crowd. The band did not waste any time before getting into a mammoth opening version of “Recoil.” After a strong rendition of “Kilona,” which really shows the range of the group, the guys went into the always crowd pleasing “Get Down.” Following for the crowd was “Drinkin’ Song,” complete with Hempe sharing some lyrics about one of his city’s favorite past times.
After a fast paced “Try Try Try,” Earphunk further showed their depth with their very impressive, “#27” with Gallé laying down the funk on the keys. Next, Matthews’ high energy drumming and Comeaux’s thumping bass rocked the crowd in a fan base favorite “Stuck in a Funk.” This tune seems to just keep getting better and better every time I see the band.
The next song, “9-5,” always provides the crowd with a chance to belt out their disdain for the typical “9-5” job that most of them probably have. Earphunk’s new album, No 9-5, will be released in late March, and one can this assume that this song will be a center piece on the record. As shouts of “I won’t work no 9 to 5” come from the stage and crowd, the band laid down some very impressive musicianship that had concertgoers bouncing off the ground. As a proper follow-up to “9-5,” Earphunk then covered Dire Straits “Money For Nothin’.” After the next tune “Drove,” off of the band’s Extended Play Volume 1 (which can be downloaded for free on www.earphunk.com), the band treated the hometown crowd to a new song, “The Rapture.” This new, soon to be Earphunk hit, was my favorite part of the night. Provosty absolutely shredded on the guitar as the whole band showed the array of their talents and the bright future ahead of them.
Overall, the night was a huge success for the band and for their fast-growing fan base. Earphunk will be all over the country this year, including three sets at Wakarusa in the summer. If you have a chance, go get “phunky” with this up-and-coming prog/funk juggernaut. You will not be disappointed and may even get lucky enough to catch their Daft Punk tribute set- “Daft Phunk.” PHUNK DAT!