As I walked into the Fox Theatre on Wednesday night, I was well aware of what to expect from the Boulder based band Swivel Hips Smith...a night of butt shaking grooves with touches of ska, rock, jazz, trance and funk all thrown into the mix.
The greatest feature about the Fox Theatre is the quality of the sound that comes through their PA system. It allows you to feel every note, noise and sound the band makes. Knowing this, Swivel Hips took the stage and broke into a wicked salsa groove, after a few minutes Shane Leiberman (guitar\vocals) started picking the melody of "Cash." Followed immediately by Seth Garland (tenor saxophone/synthesizer) jumping on the main groove as the rest of the band dove head first into this funky rock tune. The band stretched the song out for over 20 minutes to the delight of the boogying crowd.
Two songs later as the band really started to tighten up, they launched into a solid version of "Five Headed Boy Killer." With Chris Long’s smooth and thumping base lines accompanying Luke Brown’s solid beat on the drums, the quintet laid down one of the spaciest trance jams of the evening.
The band started to move into "Trinidad" and you could tell they had just gotten off of a mini tour of the Mid-West, as the musicians were locked into one another and able to “turn the corner on a dime” at about 90 miles an hour! When the band started to move from the three part harmonies of "Trinidad" into the funky sounds of "T’s Beat Ass" the crowd really started moving. Especially as Eric Swartz (guitar/vocals) started leading the band to higher and higher peaks with his awe inspiring lead guitar work.
The next three tunes were hands down my favorite part of the evening. "Gramma Bamma" really allows the members of SHS to showcase their talents especially once the band settles into this Arabian flavored tune. They broke it down to practically a whisper and then started building the jam back up slowly, with Shane laying down some fine rhythm guitar work as Seth just ripped solo after solo on top. When I began to hear the opening notes of "Govenor Love" (my favorite tune of the evening), I felt a big smile spread across my face. I knew I’d soon be unable to continue my normal dancing and have to resort to simply jumping up and down uncontrollably with the ska rhythm that Swivel Hips was throwing down. With Chris laying down silky smooth bass lines and Eric and Shane trading licks back and forth the whole crowd was jumping up and down to the pulsing rhythm.
As the 'porno funk' of "Crystal Well" started, you could see the dancers in the crowd start to rejoice, as their bodies starting grooving harder and harder to the sounds that surrounded them. The band started with a laid back build up, turned a corner, and the next thing we knew the funk was chest deep and swirling all around us. Once the band took us back to the laid back melody where the tune had originally begun, the crowd let out an appreciative roar, since its not everyday a band can take a crowd on a ride like that. In my opinion that’s the sign of a great band: when they can pick you up, take you on a ride and then drop you off again, without ever loosing you, your friends or themselves along the way.
As the two hour blistering set drew to a close, the house lights came up and all you could see was a room full of smiling faces. Smiling faces, who will know doubt be back at the Fox Theatre next Thursday when Swivel Hips Smith lends their support to Robert Walter's 20th Congress. SHS will also be headlining a show at Quixotes True Blue down in Denver on April 26. They will be hitting the road this summer and trekking across the country to a town near you! You can visit there web site SwivelHipsSmith.com for future tour dates and check out some live tracks, so you can hear yet another stellar band to come out of the Boulder music scene.
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