Lettuce, The Motet, Exmag & DJ Jazzy Jeff 6.5.15


Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)


Despite the majestic beauty that is Red Rocks Amphitheatre, selling out this illustrious venue’s 9,450 seats is not the easiest task. I’ve been to many shows where the park is barely half full. Umphrey’s McGee struggled for the better part of a decade trying to nail down the formula to achieve a sell out. Ironically, they finally got there in 2014 by inviting The Motet to support. This would be the same approach for funk juggernauts, Lettuce. They teamed up with Colorado’s house band, The Motet, to sell out the historic amphitheater with support from DJ Jazzy Jeff and Exmag.

This spring Colorado has been inundated with precipitation. Several of the early spring shows at Red Rocks have had to deal with the weather. It would definitely be a factor on this particular evening. Hardcore funk fans got in early to secure a spot close to the action as the DJs started the off the night.

Most Millennials will remember the highly successful sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bell Air, staring Will Smith. In the years since his involvement with Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff has toured the globe and founded a highly successful music production company. However, it was my nostalgia for his early career that prompted me to head inside. Around 7:00 PM DJ Jazzy Jeff took the stage with Dayne Jordan aka Dosage. Dosage is now an accomplished rapper in his own right, but he pretty much acted as a hype man for Jazz for his forty five minute set. The good DJ treated us to some wobble-infused mash ups of pop music and bass. His selections ran the gamut from Michael Jackson to Phil Collins. At one point Jazz busted out Will Smith’s “Summertime” to an enthusiastic response from the audience.

Exmag, or Extraordinary Magnitude, was up next and during their set the skies began to look very ominous. Exmag blended digitally produced samples with live guitar riffs and ethereal sounds. Droplets of rain leaked from the sky giving us an indication of what was to come. I ran out and snapped a few pictures before retreating under an awning for the remainder of their set. The organic elements of the music flowed nicely with the heavy beats for an electrified funk feel. They made livetronica soulful. Exmag wrapped their set up just as the storm came.

Fans scattered as the sky opened up and dumped their contents upon us. Balls of hail rained down and lightning struck all around the venue. People were advised to head to their cars and wait until it was over. Some fans, including myself, found shelter inside Red Rocks; others were inevitably drenched. I’ll just say the storm felt biblical.

This being Colorado after about fifteen minutes the rain lightened and stopped completely. The crew swept the water off the stage and The Motet fired up the funk engine. The most amazing thing is that everyone who evacuated, returned to get down despite most of them getting soaked. The crew did a great shop getting the stage reset, and within thirty minutes The Motet emerged to a wet, but excited crowd.

Set One: Funny Bone > Knock It Down, Cloak ‘N’ Dagger, Fight The Power, Rynodub, 123 > Just Around The Corner, Sexx Laws > Keep On Don’t Stoppin’, Get Down Tonight > Jungle Jazz

The Motet began as a rotating funk super jam for Colorado musicians. More recently the lineup has solidified under the leadership of Dave Watts on drums. This particular lineup pulls in some of the best players from over the years including Garrett Sayers on bass, Joey Porter on keys, and Ryan Jalbert on guitar. The horn section consists of Gabe Mervine (trumpet) and Matt Pitts (saxaphone), and tying it all together is Jans Ingber on vocals and percussion. The Motet is best known for their theme shows, however more recently, they have focused on including more original material. Many tracks came from their self-titled album released last year including a snappy “Knock It Down” and a dark, but funky “Rynodub.” The funkiest jam of the night came during “123,” which seemed to stretch on and on. The Motet went into Beck’s “Sexx Laws” to honor Chris Gwin who recently passed away. They ended the set with K.C. and The Sunshine’s “Get Down Tonight” into the funkiest instrumental of “Jungle Boogie” ever undertaken.

Ironically, Brooklyn-based funkers, Lettuce, are also lead by their drummer. Adam Deitch is a modern day drumming messiah playing with absolutely everyone. Currently he primarily focuses on playing with Lettuce and Break Science. The rest of Lettuce is a veritable who’s who of the East Coast funk and jazz scene including Soulive’s Neal Evans on keys and Eric Krasno on guitar, Erick “Jesus” Coomes on bass, and Adam Smirnoff on guitar, Eric Benny Bloom on trumpet and Ryan Zoidis on sax. Saying their set at Red Rocks was intense might be an understatement.

Set One: Big Anthem, By Any Shmeeans Necessary, Colorado Knows How To Party, Get Greasy, Chief, Phyllis, Breakout > Relax > Jesus Dre > Trap > Madison Square, Squadlive > Lettsanity, Lett Zeppelin, Do It Like You Do > Makin' My Way Back Home

Lettuce absolutely threw down. The set was a selection of the new and the classic. “Colorado Knows How To Party” was a nod to all the drenched patrons in the audience. “Madison Square” was an obvious highlight for the beloved funk band. Nigel Hall joined the band to sing on “Lettsanity” and “Do It Like You Do.” Lettuce took full advantage of this co-bill with The Motet. They delivered a hard-hitting, funky free-for-all to a sold out crowd at one of the most beautiful venues on the planet. Be on the look out for this band, they are playing a slew of festivals this summer across the country.

All in all this was a very special evening on the Rocks for both The Motet and Lettuce. These bands combined their raw talent for a very special, albeit rain soaked show. I honestly would not be surprised to see these two bands team up again next summer. Time will tell.

Nick’s Photo Gallery

www.lettucefunk.com
www.themotet.net

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