Tiger Party, Dopapod & Kung Fu 2.1.14

The 1up Colfax
Denver, CO

Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By Justin Gardner & Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Saturday arrived brimming with promise. With Dopapod and Kung Fu already on my agenda, I received invitations to a matinee Tiger Party set which began at 6:00 PM. We arrived fashionably late, but not late enough to miss out on some really excellent "Tiger Trio" action. The "Party" was Blake Mobley on keys, Fleeb Thomas on bass, and Seth Fankhauser on drums. The grooves were electro-funk with a little more testosterone than some other Tiger Party shows I have seen. At one point the lovely Ashley Niven guested and sang with Blake. It was actually one of my top three Tiger Party shows. I felt the set was motivated. It was svelte, sonic, and funky. It had purpose and it moved like a predator. I was glad I came out early.

When the set ended, we grabbed a bite and meandered over to Cervantes Other Side to see the Recovery Act get the room warmed up. I've seen the group a number of times and even attended their first ever show. The style they have created has been consistent since the first time they played, but their delivery has simply sharpened. It seems they have trimmed out anything that hasn't worked, leaving them a driven, nostalgic, soul-funk ensemble with chops and sensibility to boot. Their original work had such authentic soul, it comfortably sat amidst the covers of Stevie Wonder, Tedeschi-Trucks, and more. As much as I was enjoying the show, it was time to scoot back over to the 1up to catch alternating Dopapod and Kung Fu sets.

1up was far more crowded than when I'd ventured out. Dopapod was on stage, and the place had a great energy. The glowing lights, dancing crowd, blinking video games and generous shots had me quickly assessing the barcade's potential, which was tremendous. My only previous exposure to Dopapod was to review their album "Redivider." Like many members of the jamband community, their live show was far more entertaining than their studio effort in my opinion. Bassist Chuck Jones and drummer Scotty Zwang held down two sets of danceable grooves and gave guitarist, Rob Compa, a chance to take it outside of the box. But I thought the band's real star was the keyboard playing Eli Winderman. Winderman seemed comfortable leading the band into new territory and was enthusiastic while doing so.

During one of Dopapod's improvisational passages, members of Kung Fu started to appear on stage, gradually taking over for Dopapod while maintaining the established groove. When both of the bands had traded spots, Kung Fu hit a break and launched their attack. This was my second time seeing Kung Fu and I was similarly impressed as the first time. At the first show, I was convinced that their show was like watching funk break a board. After their second show I decided to do a little more research. I read up on the term "Kung Fu." According to Wikipedia, "Kung fu/Kungfu or Gung fu/Gongfu is a Chinese term referring to any study, learning or practice that requires patience, energy and time to complete..." With this new definition to ponder, the band made even more sense. The amount of work that went into Kung Fu's performance seemed deserving. Their "chops" were lethal, their compositions- complex, and their enthusiasm overflowing. I loved watching their show for the permanent smile on key player Todd Stoop's face. Watching such an excited and overjoyed musician always adds to my experience, and this time was no different. Their enthusiasm was just as contagious and fun to catch as an STD, but there wasn't an itchy feeling when it was over.

As far as musical talent went, Kung Fu was equipped with an arsenal of high powered weapons. I knew about Todd Stoops from his other band, RAQ, and have enjoyed his playing every time. He has consistently made musical choices I love. When I began to see the talent of their depth chart was when bassist Chris DeAngelis took a solo. Like a "bass carpet-bombing", DeAngelis shook foundations, rearranged landscapes and left my jaw hanging. It might have been the most impressive musical display of the night had it not been for everything Tim Palmieri did. His guitar playing was rapid, calculated, lively... searing solo after searing solo. I had remembered he was a decent guitarist, but this show he proved to me that he was simply brilliant. Repeatedly throughout the night I found myself staring at his fingers in disbelief. He was quite the player. With Adrian Tramontano adding some "boom-bap" and Robert Somerville's silky sax, the band really had no weak spots. They reminded me of a band of musical ninjas kicking boring music in the throat. And who hasn't wanted to see boring music get kicked in the throat lately?

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