Kung Fu, Juno What, Euforquestra & Punch Drunk Munky Funk 7.26.14

Bellvue, Colorado
Mishawaka Amphitheatre

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Audio By Eric Wilkens

I apologize for the number of times I use the word "funk" in the following review. There is no synonym for funk.

Funk. The dirtiest style of music there is. Derived from the back alleys of Blues, the shadowy underworld of Jazz, and the dark side of Soul. According to Old Gregg, "The funk is a living creature from another planet." On Saturday night in the sleepy little town of Bellvue, Colorado at the famed Mishawaka Amphitheatre the funk came home to roost. After an extraordinarily funky night in Denver, Kung Fu, Juno What, Euforquestra, and Punch Drunk Munky Funk kept the train rolling with a seven-hour celebration of all things funky.

Punch Drunk Munky Funk got the night started with their blend of soulful Jazz and dirty jams. They were already on stage when the second bus up the canyon arrived. I got in quickly because this band sounded amazing. Originals like “Double Richard” and a ridiculously tight rendition of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” made for a very enjoyable set. They are a band focused on rock steady funkiness with a bright future on the circuit.

Next on the menu for the evening was a heaping helping of local heroes, Euforquestra. They were added later, but a welcomed addition to the lineup. They opened with their tight syncopated funk with their original song, “Momo.”

Euforquestra Live at Mishawaka on July 26, 2014.

Set One: Momo, Ride On The Funky Train*, Price Is Right, Don’t Boom Boom, Get You Moving, Fire, Hard Time*, I Want You (She’s So Heavy)**, Instant Coffee

*w/ Kim Dawson on vocals
**Have A Cigar by Pink Floyd Teases

Euforquestra is a touring force that continues to play multiple runs across the entire United States. Their blend of World, Afrobeat, Funk, Soul and Jam continues to develop as the years go by. Recently they have invited a rotating cast of horn players and percussionists to join in on the fun. At this particular show, long time friend and former member, Matt Grundstad, was on percussion and Jon Stewart, from Supercollider, was on sax. They also invited powerhouse singer, Kim Dawson, up for a few songs as well. All in all this was a great chance to see Euforquestra at the Mish after quite some time away. Fires, flooding, and everything else God can muster has kept Euforquestra from gracing the Mishawaka with their presence. Kim sitting on “Funky Train” was a huge highlight of the entire night. However, the showstopper was a powerfully funky rendition of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which included a beautiful segue into Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar” before returning back on course. They closed their set with a snappy “Instant Coffee.”

Electro-dance party explosion, Juno What!?, came to the stage quickly after Euforquestra disappeared into the night. Lead by Joey Porter, best known as the keyboardist to The Motet, Juno What seems to have gone through some changes since the last time I caught them live. Originally touring as a trio with Dave Watts and Steve Watkins, Juno What is now a four piece with Garrett Sayers on bass and synth bass, Dan Schwindt on guitar, and Tyrone Hendrix on drums. I have to say the new lineup seems to have re-energized this band’s sound. Juno What got the night going strong with their unique take on modern love, “Sex With A Stranger.” The electro-funk continued with a huge “ElectroCity.” Joey seems less focused on utilizing his talk box the entire time giving this awesome band he’s assembled more time to just jam on the funk. The obvious highlight was Juno What’s anthem cover of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue.”

Finally, after over three hours of opening music it was time for the main event, Kung Fu. I feel like people don’t really know who Kung Fu is and where they come from. The fact is that Kung Fu is a super group of the funkiest proportions. Comprised of Tim Palmieri on Guitar (The Breakfast), Todd Stoops on keys (RAQ), Rob Sommerville on sax (Deep Banana Blackout), Chris DeAngelis on bass (The Breakfast), and Adrian Tramontano on drums (The Breakfast), Kung Fu is a conversion of talent the likes of which the world of Funk rarely sees. Their show at The Mishawaka was a blend of Electronica, Funk, Jam, Rock, Jazz, and more. They opened with their hard-hitting track “Gung Ho.”

Kung Fu Live at Mishawaka on July 26, 2014.

Set One: Gung Ho, Hollywood Kisses, Chin Music, Steppin In It, You’ve Got The Love*, Paragon, Cramp Your Style, Samurai, S’all Good, Do The Right Thing

Encore: Standin’ On The Verge

*w/ Kim Dawson

The air was quickly filled with the heavy rhythms of funk. Kung Fu alternates between instrumental journeys into the darkest realms of funk and lyrical adventures. “Hollywood Kisses” was a searing shred fest that saw some solid playing from Palmieri on guitar. They invited the talented Kim Dawson up for “You’ve Got The Love." Their ninety minute set was chocked full of tight collaborations and funky goodness. Strong renditions of “Samurai” and “Do The Right Thing” helped to make this show truly enjoyable. This is a band on fire right now. Kung Fu is well known on the East Coast. They have been working tirelessly to make inroads out West for the last couple of years. Hopefully this headlining run with a strong cast of local characters will give them the traction they need. Their show at The Mishawaka was an absolute blast. So if you find yourself in a funky mood check out Kung Fu. You won’t be disappointed.

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