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Monday, September 8, 2014

LouFest ReviewFest: Pretty Little Empire, Glass Animals, Lettuce

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Page 3 of 3

  • Joshua Timmermans


Two days ago I asked a friend what to expect from Lettuce. He gave me some quick notes about the band, but other than that I went into this one blindly, with no knowledge of who this was other than a group of guys in a band named after a leafy vegetable. I headed over to the stage Sunday afternoon with no preconceived notions. I was also coming into this situation after a major Trombone Shorty ear invasion which left me slightly exhausted. I didn't have high hopes.

Walking up I saw straw hats, Birkenstocks, a Phish backpack and a shit ton of glow-in-the-dark hula hoops. Dread had nearly set in when suddenly the music started.

This seven-piece band led by what looked like Fozzie Bear in a Sammy Hagar suit started a dance party on the stage which nearly immediately spilled over into the crowd in steady waves.

Fozzie Hagar (bassist Erick Coomes) led the crowd in bounces while his runs manipulated everyone into dance moves that no one would probably prefer to be seen doing in the cold, sober light of day. He held his audience so easily that suddenly I realized I, too, was bouncing in time with everyone else. I even saw an ultra suburbanite couple making funky stink faces while bopping around in their Polos and boat shoes like it was a goddamned Grateful Dead reunion. That was it for me. Honestly I've never seen so many people singing along to instrumentals before in my life.

About five songs in they were joined by vocalist Alecia Chakour. She jived perfectly with the ensemble, and at one point it sounded like she might be singing her actual guts out. Her sound is clearly communicated in three words: James Brown Winehouse. I felt like every sentence she sang should end with "get down!" and it was fabulous. This band has Action Figure Party's smoothness while holding true to the the low-down dirty-rottenness of Sly and the Family Stone.

However, there were also these comforting sounds throughout the set that I would never have associated with a "jam band." These 22-year funk veterans hail from Boston, Massachusetts, although after about two minutes into a set one would swear they had a South Broadway backbone. So yeah, "pleasantly surprised" is an understatement. Adam "Shmeeans" Smirnoff's generic hipster space band guitar effects somehow worked perfectly in the mix, with horns jumping in on the same licks moments later to bring the melody back to earth.

So when my friend said the following: "They are easily the greatest living funk band. New guard, instrumental prowess without wanking groove for days. Total party music. Impossible to sit still in their presence." I'm going to say, yeah, this was not too far off from the truth.


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