Las Tortugas V | Review | Pics

Friday Highlights

See the full gallery for Friday here

Theme: Decade Dance (retro looks from TV, history, etc.)

ALO & Friends by Chad Smith
1. ALO :: 2:00-4:00 am. :: Terrapin Big Top Stage
What other band could meld Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years" with snippets of The Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)" with the whole panoply of pop past & future sandwiched in between? Dressed in the outfits from the Man of the World photo/video shoot, ALO lived up to every part of their name at this dawn chasing performance. In fact, keyboardist-singer Zach Gill even got so in touch with his animal side that he started talking to the stuffed birds on the branches decorating the stage late in the set. When these boys are on – and believe you me, this was as ON as I've ever seen them – music feels alive and organic, something to be touched and tasted, savored and slathered all over. That its also incredibly tuneful and you can dance to it speaks to their great talent and dedication to making even outside-the-norm music conform to something more sophisticated and thoughtful. After spending the better part of the summer and fall opening up for pal Jack Johnson, ALO played like men balling without a condom for the first time in a LONG time – liberated beasts whose bite set a good many of us free, too.

2. New Monsoon :: 6:15-7:30 pm. :: Terrapin Big Top Stage
For a band that doesn't play out that much anymore, New Monsoon commanded the stage like utter professionals. There's so much damn talent in this quintet that it remains shocking to me that more people don't know and adore them. But regardless of stardom, San Francisco's New Monsoon demonstrated how adept they are at commingling styles and giving all of them rock 'n' roll oomph in this early evening set. Filled with rhythm and force, their mix of originals and tasty covers (and a whole lot more well-picked, well-executed covers on Saturday from ZZ Top and more) goes down so smoothly that the many hours of woodshedding and sweat that lay before each performance are invisible. What we got at both sets this Tortugas was a band fully in control of their instruments and material, able to knock it out with aplomb at a moment's notice. Drinking in electric guitarist Jeff Miller - long a personal favorite – renewed my desire to see him form a Derek & The Dominoes tribute band since he's one of the few axe slingers who could generate the same guitar magic as Clapton at his inarguable peak.

Pimps of Joytime by Chad Smith
3. Pimps of Joytime :: 8:45-10:00 pm. :: Terrapin Big Top Stage
Dressed as ragtag cowpokes, the Pimps offered a master class in funk and its roots, showing equal flair for gutbucket blues, silky soul and myriad other variations on what seem like overplayed, boring forms in lesser hands. This band knows groove, way down in their bones, and they move with harnessed power and abundant natural charisma. Every single time I see the Pimps I like them WAY better. Shooting straight, I haven't been this wholly charmed by a band in the funk-rock vein since I first saw Prince back in the day. Only Seattle's Staxx Brothers are competing in the same arena, and rather than play favorites, I'll just say that anyone who likes to get more than knee-deep as they howl about atomic dogs and funky drummers should get familiar with both. Quickly.


4. Antioquia :: 10:15-11:45 pm. :: The Tavern
With the propulsive energy of Remain In Light Talking Heads and political dance-mindedness of The Clash, SF's Antioquia turned heads in their Tortugas debut. Admittedly, it wasn't just their reach-out-and-grab-ya sound alone that did the job. The band set a new fest record for the most exposed flesh by dressing as the cock-socked Red Hot Chili Peppers with lead singer Maddy Streicek dolled up like an actual chili pepper. In their veins flows the sticky stuff that agitated early Brian Eno, the initial wave of jazz-fusion cats, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band and similar inspired wackos. In so many ways, this set showed that Antioquia is exposed, fearless and free of boundaries, and they've got the chops to back up the bravado with substance and style.

Continue reading for Saturday highlights...


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