When Scene Magazine and New Belgium join forces to produce a New Mastersounds show at Hodi’s you don’t ask questions, you just go. It has been a number of years since the Mastersounds made a stop in Fort Collins. Eager fans turned up in full force almost selling out the show completely. New Belgium got the party started by giving out free beers to the first sixty people through the door. Calling it the “Kick Into Fall Party” the event also marked the release of Pumpkick, New Belgium’s seasonal pumpkin offering.
The Earful was a perfect addition to the night’s itinerary. This San Diego six-pack is lead by keyboardist Brian Teel. With a focus on the classic funk sound while continuing to innovate through clever instrumentation and tight riffing, The Earful has developed an incredibly authentic sound. The songs they produce could be at home on Soul Train or on a porn soundtrack from 1976. The fact remains that their attention to song craft and creating danceable music has been an uncompromising success. This band could easily be a headliner and I believe it’s only a matter of time until they are taking top billing around the country. By the end of their set the room was pretty packed and the audience was ready for some of that UK funk.
The New Mastersounds have continued to make Colorado a priority on their tour schedule. In fact they just released their new album Therapy in March, which was recorded in Colorado and features local Kim Dawson. After a brief hello, they were on their way with a snappy “Hole in The Bag.”
Set 1: Hole in The Bag, Way Out West, Morning Fly, Sitting On Their Knees, Afternoon at Gigi’s, Dusty Groove, ?, Summercamp, Monday Meters, In The Middle, Surfin’, Six Underground, WWIII, ?, Baby Bouncer, One Note Brown, ?,?
NMS continues to be one of the tightest funk experiences touring today. Their attention to detail combined with sheer musical skill always seems to add up to an impressive performance. Their set at Hodi’s was a roller coaster ride through their catalog. Eddie Roberts is the lord and savior of the funk guitar riff. New songs like “Morning Fly” took on a soulful, longing sound that was juxtaposed against the bouncy funk of “Afternoon At Gigi’s.” The New Mastersounds are like whipped butter, super smooth and good with bread. Actually they’re good with anything. “Dusty Groove” as its name would insinuate was a blast of dirty funk. The majority of the songs played stuck to the 3 – 4 minute script, but Summercamp gave the band a chance to jam. “Surfin’” ran the gamut from spaced out funk to gargantuan solo from Joe Tatton on the organ. “WWIII” was quick, but intense. After and extended rendition of “Baby Bouncer” NMS put their skill on display with “One Brown Note” to close the set. They came back for a two-song encore before disappearing backstage for good.
The New Mastersounds pick up where bands like ulu left off, perhaps with a slightly more polished approach. The fact remains that instrumental jazz is a ticket to freedom. It’s less about knowing which song they are playing, and more about focusing on the individual musicians as they play individually as well as with the group. The New Mastersounds bring a fresh and vibrant approach to the world of funk and jazz. Their talent is apparent with each song. If these hooligans are coming to your town, I suggest you make getting there a priority. You won’t be disappointed.