First the hurricanes, then the tragic mass shootings in Las Vegas and finally the shocking news about the death of Tom Petty. Music fans in Los Angeles got a reprieve from an emotionally draining couple of weeks when Turkuaz, the nine-piece dynamo from Brooklyn, NY, brought their high-energy, funky good time show to the Teragram Ballroom on October 5, 2017.
Sinkane (born Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab), a Sudanese-American musician who mashes up prog rock, electronica and psychedelic rock along with Sudanese pop into a unique sound, opened the show. His five-piece band blasted through an intense set that featured the lead singer’s strong vocals and inspired guitar riffs that he traded off with Jonny Lam, also on guitar. Elenna Canlas played some trippy keyboard solos that added to the vibe.
Turkuaz always bring a ton of energy to their performances. Their music chops, synchronized dance moves, amazing harmonies and vibrant color schemes make every live show a memorably theatrical performance. The show at Teragram Ballroom was an incredible spectacle and definitely helped cement their reputation as one of the best live bands performing these days. The highly talented group got everyone in the place shakin’ their booties for two solid hours of nonstop joy.
The band came out on fire and never cooled off. Guitarist Dave Brandwein handled most of the lead vocals, but Sammi Garett, Shira Elias and baritone sax player Josh Schwartz each got their chances to take over the lead as the show played out. They performed excellent background vocals and harmonies when not out front and the ladies did creative, coordinated dance moves through the show.
Garett and Elias sang a passionate duet on “Don’t Do It.” Garett also belted out “Rule the World” and Elias did a heated “Go Go.” Schwartz took over lead vocals late in the set on “Holy Ghost” that also featured a sit-in by guitarist DJ Williams (from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Shots Fired). Other band members shined during the set as well. Craig Brodhead played some searing guitar solos and led a trippy segment by using a voice box attached to an electronic keyboard during “Digital Love.”
The super-tight horn arrangements were on display throughout the show, but some of the solos by Greg Sanderson on tenor sax, Josh Schwartz on baritone sax and Chris Brouwers on trumpet were truly amazing. Michelangelo Carubba’s steady, pulsating drumming and Taylor Shell’s thumping bass line kept the upbeat rhythm going all night. Additional song highlights included “Nightswimming,” “The Generator” and “Bubba Slide,” which closed the show.
The band briefly left the stage to thunderous applause and thankfully returned minutes later. Brandwein asked if the audience wanted one more and after hearing a resounding “Yes!” they launched into an inspiring version of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” with most of the crowd singing along. That song segued into the Turkuaz traditional closer “Monkey Fingers,” which featured a room rattling baritone sax solo by Schwartz.
With their fantastic show at Teregram, Turkuaz helped a few hundred Angelenos forget all about a tragic couple of weeks with two hours of exhilarating live music. The band tours extensively, but always seems to deliver a fresh, high-energy performance – they never let up. Their Teragram Ballroom show proved that they even have the power to turn a sad, disheartened crowd into an amazed and inspired one. That’s a rare talent.