MusicMarauders Presents: 20th Congress, Kung Fu & Frogs Gone Fishin' 1.25.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By Brad Hodge (

As I entered Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, the room was already ablaze with horny funk. The "horny" came courtesy of the "Horny Toads," Frogs Gone Fishing's horn section. As the band presented their own style of funky jam rock, I found myself impressed several times. Guitarists Andrew Portwood and Trevor Jones had a visible camaraderie and you could hear how much fun they were having. Alex Scott laid down bass-lines that were more rock and roll than other funk bands, and the band seemed to play off of him well. Although Frogs were the headliner the last time I saw them, they seemed to be more excited this time around with a high energy set that left the crowd and the band smiling.

Kung Fu was up next. It was my first opportunity to see the funk fusion act and they were superb. While I have had my "face melted," this was the first time I felt like a band came out and broke a board with my face. Perhaps it was their name. Their onslaught of high wire funk was explosive, aggressive, and passionate. While Frogs had opened the night with high energy, Kung Fu went nuclear. Tim Palmieri's guitar riffs were tight, creative, unique, inventive, and fertile. They seemed to provide everything you needed to "get down", which made the incredible keys of Todd Stoops a fat-ass bonus. Todd had an infectious stage presence and his work on the keyboards was nothing short of enthralling. I watched in sheer delight as he engaged in some of the most dazzling key playing I've ever seen at Cervantes. Bassist, Chris Deangelis, provided the punch and drummer, Adrian Tramontano, the kick with a booming combo... the foundation for all things Fu. Rob Somerville's energetic sax provided the horn sound that seemed to make the funk sound authentic and full. Just when I thought the energy couldn't get any higher, they brought out Joey Porter (of the Motet) for a few tunes including Stevie Wonder's "I Wish." "I wish those days could come back more, why did those days ever have to go? 'Cause I love that soul... Do do do do do, do do do do do."

As we all caught our breath, Simon Lott went behind his drum kit and did yoga. His routine culminated in a near headstand which he held for a significant period of time. It was a small glimpse into a pre-performance ritual. As his bandmates took the stage, Robert Walter's made his way to his organ and off we went into an atmosphere of dim-lit lounges, New Orleans jazz, and sophisticated musical conversations. Simon Lott was precise, calculated, and tireless at the drum kit. I had expected a slightly funkier show, and found myself starting to view it more as a late-night after the Kung Fu show rather than as the main event. It's not that they weren't good, because from a technical standpoint, they were actually quite impressive, but after Kung Fu, the energy was lacking. I personally also have a guitar addiction. The 20th Congress did not have a guitarist, and while the organ playing was phenomenal, I thought the overall sound was missing something in the forefront. It was loose jazz overall, but something about it felt just a touch stuffy... the kind of vibe that made me feel like I'd stumbled into a cocktail party to which I was marginally invited. At the end of the day, I enjoyed them, but preferred the blistering energy of Kung Fu. To be fair, Kung Fu would be a very tough act to follow, and I came to the show and expected a blend of Galactic and GreyBoy All- Stars rather than their jazzy little cousin, and that's on me. The 20th Congress did what they do, and they did it well. After a lengthy break from the road, it's good to know the 20th Congress is back in session.

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