The New Mastersounds & Kung Fu 11.9.17
Words by Erica Garvey (Funk E. Bitch)
Photos by Chris Davis
If I could just walk into a concert like it was a five-star restaurant and order my favorite gourmet comfort funk, I would get the New Mastersounds with a Kung Fu starter. And Seattle got the finest made-for-pleasure funk available at Neptune Theatre last Thursday night.
Not surprisingly, Thursday was another rainy night in Seattle. Neptune Theatre is a beautiful old mid-sized venue with just the right floor space for a dancing crowd. It took a few songs into Kung Fu’s set before the audience could really be described as a “crowd,” and the room’s sound improved in quality with each body that filed in. As many live music fans know, these rainy nights during the workweek can be a blessing: the venue is not overly crowded, but filled with happy people immersed in the experience; there are no elbows in your face or ribs; no loud, distracting off-topic conversations nearby. All eyes and ears are on the music.
After a brief intermission, before the concert goers had really even caught their breath, the four-piece New Mastersounds came out and launched right into their continuous series of funk masterpieces. In fact, the evening’s setlist felt a bit like a funk symphony: each song was a distinct movement yet generally flowed together seamlessly. This was my first time seeing this band, and I lost my mind for the first two songs until I remembered where I was and that this was in fact real life.
The collection of songs (chosen on the fly based largely on the audience’s vibes) were mostly pure funk, and it was hard to believe this level of funk mastery could be from England. The band commanded the attention of the crowd with subtle flourishes, like a few time signature changes, quick turnarounds in tempo, and moments of mesmerizing jams that may have spoiled this particular funk fan for life.
Towards the end of the New Mastersounds’ set, they brought members of Kung Fu up for a performance of “Windjammer.” The blend worked well, with Roberts and Kung Fu’s Tim Palmieri trading guitar licks and Adrian Tramontano looking right at home on drums for the larger group. The encore took a slightly slower, sexier turn for a minute, reminding the audience for the umpteenth time that the “masters” in New Mastersounds is no coincidence.
In a town that never lacks high quality music, it can be difficult to impress Seattleites. This pair of bands did not even break a sweat getting us moving and smiling all night. Many thanks to the New Mastersounds and Kung Fu for coming way out west, and we look forward to many return visits.
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