Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe & Juno What?! 2.21.13

Aggie Theater
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

The Aggie was host to a funk filled evening with local electro-juggernauts, Juno What?!, and dirty jazz impresarios, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. This combination lent itself to some stellar collaboration during the opening set. Once again the crowd was slow to arrive, but that didn’t stop Juno What?! from bringing the heat early and often. Consisting of Motet members Joey Porter, Dave Watts, and Excellent Gentlemen keyboardist Steve Watkins, Juno What?! is rapidly becoming the biggest dance party on the Front Range. The set consisted of a lot of Juno What?! originals including some new songs. Matt Pitts of The Motet sat in early to add his horn to the mix. They debuted a song entitled “Rage And Rally,” a funky voice box tune about the need for persistence in partying. “Stranger” was another new one, but classics like “Shameless” and “What You See Is What You Get” made it into the rotation. The room quickly filled and soon it was a tight mesh of hippies, beatniks, and college kids. The highlight of the show was a Tiny Universe parade through their set that included sit-ins from guitarist DJ Williams, Karl Denson as well as the Cosmic Horns. They rounded it all out with a massive version of Eddy Grant’s classic “Electric Avenue.” Juno What?! has continued to bring the fun every time they perform. Got get yourself some electro-funk whenever possible.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe were joined for much of the night by The Cosmic Horns a three-piece section included Slightly Stoopid’s DeLa. I have to say that the additional brass really filled out the overall sound. The Tiny Universe has long been a favorite of mine, going back to seeing them for the first time in a sweaty dive bar in Iowa. They bring veracity to their playing that is simply infectious and can cause even the most foot-planted fan to dance absurdly. Early in the set a version of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” got everyone’s attention. KDTU also performed their incredible original “Stealin’” which is a funk fueled indictment of the rich and powerful. Local standout Kim Dawson has recently been performing across the country with Karl Denson and the Aggie was no exception. She took the microphone for an interstellar version of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Denson himself transitioned from sax to flute to the mic seamlessly, truly playing the role of bandleader. Williams on guitar is an absolute shredder who just sits back and does his thing. The band quite simply sounded fantastic. “My Baby” was yet another highlight in a show jam-packed with musical highs. It’s nice to see KDTU making the festival circuit this year. With already announced sets at Jazz Fest, Summer Camp, and Wakarusa Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will be making plenty of waves this summer. I hope KDTU continues to tour regularly and spread that good gospel of funk.

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