Euforquestra Big Band, Punch Drunk Munky Funk & The Hodi’s Funk House Band 10.31.14

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
(Fat Guerilla Productions)

This year Halloween was jam packed with pivotal events across the country. Many music fans opted to head to Las Vegas for three nights of Phish with a wide array of supporting shows including moe.’s Big Lebowski set, Greensky Bluegrass, and more. Here in Colorado Widespread Panic announced three nights at the First Bank Center. Despite the nearness of WSP, I chose to stay local with Euforquestra’s Big Band performance at Hodi’s Half Note. Euforquestra is known for including guests, but this time around they went all out. In addition to their regular five (Ryan Jeter has been on indefinite hiatus), they invited Kim Dawson, Matt Grundstad, Jeff Porter, Danny Sears, Jon Stewart and Dan Schwindt to join in the fun. Jon Gray even sat in on trumpet for a few songs.

The night started early at 9PM sharp with the Hodi’s Funk House Band that included local drum star, Eric Imbrosciano. The Funk Jam has been a long tradition at Hodi’s occurring every Monday night. Eric and company lead the jam and invited local players to join in. They were set up at the back of the house stage. Their funky instrumental jams welcomed the audience as they made their way inside. The show would eventually sell out with lots of attendees decked out in full Halloween regalia. Speaking of which, Punch Drunk Munky Funk came to the main stage dressed as the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. Drummer, Michelle Pietrafitta, dressed as April O’Neil to complete the ensemble. As they took to their instruments an eerie hush fell over the crowd. They began with a sinister sounding rendition of the theme from the Halloween films.

Set One: Halloween Theme> Marley's Mammories, Gristle7yy, 1998, Ninja Tuna> Cabrini Green, Jalopy> Twilight Zone> Back in Time

They should have had a friend dress as Mike Myers and just quietly stand behind people at the show, but there’s always next year. Punch Drunk Munky Funk is an up and coming funk outfit from Northern Colorado. I first caught them at Mishawaka this summer and they have been playing up and down the Front Range relentlessly ever since. Snappy drumbeats are juxtaposed against sensible guitar licks in “1998.” This band is one very much in the pocket. Tightness is key with an unwavering commitment to the riff. “Cabrini Green” had an intensity that is quickly becoming a hallmark of this band. They went into a swift version of the “Twilight Zone” before closing with my highlight, “Back in Time.” This song is sung by Alex and Michelle and demonstrates a more tender sound before it explodes in a fiery ball of funk. Punch Drunk Munky Funk blends their instrumental and sung tracks seamlessly. They have a reverence for the funk, which is evident with each performance. They were a perfect fit with Euforquestra.

Euforquestra’s guests would enter and exit often, as this ten piece monstrosity found its footing on the snug Hodi’s stage. I’ll take a moment to point out that in all my years of Halloween concert attending I have never seen a wider array of costumes in a single group before. Costume choices ranged from spandex clad rock star to cowboy to Spock. They opened with a celebratory version of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” into their own barnstormer, “Instant Coffee.”

Set One: Let’s Dance> Instant Coffee, Mixed Bizness, The Events Of December 11> Spooky> Black Pearl> TCB or TYA, Fire, Don’t Boom Boom, Road Funk, Just Not Ready For Love, Built To Last, Ramble On, Gold Mine, Soup> The Kids

Encore: Price Is Right, She’s So Heavy

Despite the incongruence of their costumes, musically they came together beautifully. Austin Zalatel continued to channel Bowie on a horn infused “December 11.” They went into a spot on version of “Spooky” and the band just kept the funk flowing freely. Kim Dawson’s vocals stole the show, but what else is new. She has amazing timing and a huge vocal range. Her recent marriage to guitarist Mike Tallman implies that she will be a frequent guest in years to come. It was interesting to see so many musicians wailing away on a stage that is barely comfortable for five. Grundstad was all smiles as he synched up with Babineau on the kit. Euforquestra settled back into the groove with “Road Funk” which has become such a powerful jamming vehicle for this band. Their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” shook the room. They closed the set with their ode to grandma’s broth “Soup” into “The Kids.” The Big Band returned for a two-song encore that ended with The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy.” Euforquestra found their stride musically years ago. They are becoming an institution in Colorado much like The Motet. They grind it out and tour nationally. Their dedication is evident with every performance. They are so tight that they regularly invite guests to mix it up. This last year has seen a rotating cast of horn players and percussionists sitting in and mixing up the dynamic. The Big Band show was that approach taken to its farthest limits. This band continues to impress me after 12 years and well over a hundred shows. If you like the blending of funk, World, Reggae and Afrobeat let them impress you too.

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