A Review: Family Funktion & Sitar Jams (Rochester)
As we pulled up to The Abilene, a small house converted into one of the chillest bars in Rochester, there were no signs of any activity. Upon entering it was nice to see so many friendly faces. The venue was comfortably crowded with a good amount of space open in front of the band's equiptment. As the guys from FFSJ set up there gear we went headed for the bar. One of the main reasons I love this bar is how outwardly kind everybody is. My girlfriends questions about specific beers were met with helpful answers and suggestions from both the bartenders and patrons. Drinks in hand; we headed over to say hey to the guys.
Per usual we we greated by smiles from one of the most friendly/down to earth groups I have come upon. We caught up on on what everyone had been up to and shared some stories. As it became closer to the start of the show, the Abilene became packed with one of the most acclectic crowds that I have seen in some time.
The first set was very sitar drivin, with Naryan really getting into it, and hardly played his syth, if at all. Ravi's drumming was heavy and the at times became very loose. It was easy to see that his passion for jazz and "free jazz" was coming through. As he said to me before the show, "I don't know how they feel about free jazz, but I go, and they have to go with me." This comment made me smile and him laugh. I thought Aneal's bass playing seemed to stand out even more so than the previous couple of times I had seen them play. He was all over the bass and it was really funked out. The set only lasted about an hour before they announced they would be taking a short break.
People headed in all directions; some to the front door to head out for a smoke and others towards the band to try to piece together what they had just experienced. There are always lots of questions and praise for the band as they set their instruments down.
The second set began and was littered with feedback. As they played it was easy to pick up on Naryan's frusteration as he had to sort through the sound issues. I guess that comes with the territory of not having a sound guy. After a lot of tweaking and the eventual stopping of a song, it was determined to be a mic that was left on and overlooked. After completing that jam; Naryan laughing, stated to the crowd "That was our biggest live failure in twenty years of playing together." Throughout the secend set Ravi weaved in and out of his spacey loose playing often resolving to an extremely dancable beat. He utilized the time in which the sound issue was being resolved to float into a couple of pretty impressive drum solos. Also in this set Aneal's playing became even more destructive, and you could see him getting more and more into the grove. I was really impressed by his heavy and intelligent playing. The set included a little bit of synth, but not nearly as much as I have seen at previous shows. By the end of the show people had excepted their new found band and were really getting down to the groove.
All in all I thought the show was pretty solid. The crowd was REALLY into it and people were buying cds like crazy. As I looked around the room; eyes were wide and jaws were dropped. It's always encouraging to see people's excitement as they find new/innovative music. Before I left I glanced at their e-mail sign-up sheet... I was pleased to see a bunch of names. I thanked the guys for the enjoyable evening and turned to Naryan, pointed to the e-mail list and said "One show at a time..." and he repeated it back. I look forward to seeing them next weekend in Buffalo.
I also want to that the owner of The Abilene Bar, Danny for being kind and taking care of our drinks.
Stream FFSJ's First Album on Jambase.