Soulive & Lettuce 10.1.11

The Vic Theatre
Chicago, IL

Words by Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)
Photos by Jeremy Frazier (

October 1st brought a double dose of funky, jazz-infused swagger to the Vic Theatre in Chicago. Jam band crossovers and festival heavy hitters Lettuce and Soulive, both members of the Royal Family Record Label, are a favorite draw for many roots music fans, and for good reason. Their co-billed performance advertised as the Royal Family Ball Fall Tour proved once again why funk is still the coolest damn genre around and that we should probably just shut up, listen in, and dance it ‘til it hurts.

Soulive graced the stage first to packed floor and took off running with two of its oldest tunes, “Uncle Junior” and “Turn it Out!”, both from their 1999 release Get Down! The third song, appropriately titled “Hat Trick”, capped the introductory segment and grooved the band into its meaty middle portion that featured Beatles covers. “Eleanor Rigby” arrived with extra rhythmic flare over the original but exuded the same moody temperature that made the classic what is was, and then it happened…

Soulive’s next offering, a cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, spellbound the entire audience. Laden with emotion (and goose bumps personally), the crowded collective in The Vic stood speechless for much of the Abbey Road tune until guitarist Eric Krasno dropped into the last series of haunting notes we all know and love. Those in attendance showed unabashed delight, cheering the band on as they drove to an insanely intense peak. The band finished with Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay” that featured soulful interplay between brothers Alan (drums) and Neal Evans (keyboards).

Lettuce, not to be outdone, took the stage minutes later and showed seriously might throughout its powerhouse set. The eight-member group that originally formed jam sessions at Berklee College of Music shares two members of Soulive. Neal Evans and Eric Krasno appeared more at ease with Lettuce who jammed its way through old school funk that pushed the speaker stacks to the max.

On a stage with endless talent, drummer Adam Deitch was the star. Seriously, this guy IS the best drummer in the jam scene. He brings those “shake your head” moments so often that sometimes you have to question whether he’s actually human or instead some sick robot created to splank the funkless into submission. As a casual fan, the set list was a bit of a mystery, but one thing is certain… live music doesn’t get any better than this. Crispy, fresh, and soulfully funky to the core, Lettuce absolutely tore The Vic down, and I’m so grateful to have been apart of it. Thank you Soulive and Lettuce!

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