Ridiculous to the sublime – that’s a phrase that comes to mind when reviewing my thoughts about this particular Friday night at The Loft. O.k., maybe ridiculous is too strong of a statement, but sublime certainly isn’t.
Full disclosure, I’m a lover of the funk, so Nikka Costa is a favorite of mine. I haven’t seen her since the days when Everybody Got Their Something was her current album, and a LOT has changed for her since then. By her own admission, her following has evolved from something more mainstream to a bit of a grassroots movement, which was evident by the loudest and most involved very small crowd I have ever experienced at a live show. Costa has also gone from Virgin to Stax Records, the label that just released her new CD Pebble to A Pearl. The change from rock star to cult following did not seem to deter her, in fact I think she’s better. Costa has more fun on-stage, which allows her to be even more dynamic, and involve the crowd to a greater degree than before. Her band is as impressive as ever. They may have slightly less polish but they make up for it with more nastiness and grit. Vocal range and versitility has improved for Nikka as well; the new material has more of a gospel or soul feel than her earlier rock style. This makes for tracks that may be simpler and slightly less impressive in terms of composition, but give the fire headed vocal tornado even more space to show how exceptional she is live.
Just before Nikka was Pictures and Sound, an impressive 3 piece led by former Blue Merle frontman Luke Reynolds – who played a very unique style of guitar and also spent some time on the pedal steel. The band played the type of sound I would call "summer love" b/c so much of it was personal lyrically, some might say sappy, and definately the type of thing many females would seem to be enthusiastic about. Not usually my thing really. What’s peculiar is, I REALLY liked this band. It is a tight 3 piece, which I’m always a fan of, and Reynolds voice is remarkable. His vocal quality reminds of Jeff Buckley a bit; more forceful and slightly less vulnerable and personal. The rhythm section was rock solid and Reynolds guitar style alternated between well spaced chordal embellishments , and epic rhythmic strumming a la The Edge – ALL with a great deal of reverb. If I was programming music for one of the teenage drama or reality shows on television I would choose this music instead of the Fall Out Boys of the world. It fits the format and demographic, but it’s actually GOOD.
The first band out was Atlanta’s own Gurufish. They brought their Jamiroquai style falsetto-funk with a great deal of enthusiasm, even if the band wasn’t always the most precise. Leadsinger Jimmy St. James seemed lost in his influences both in musical style and image. Too heavy a heaping of Jay Kay, Prince, Hendrix, and Sly Stone made for a crushed velvet, overly feathered look and vocal style that was sometimes distracting to the point of almost being silly. I kept thinking of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – remember – that band from The Muppet Show with Animal on drums?
All-in-all another superior quality show from the people at The Loft and Rivals Entertainment. The lineup was varied and each band brought something unique and entertaining to the table. –Bill Cunningham
Category: Live Reviews