photo by Jessica Scheeter
The steambath was packed in the heart of San Francisco's old Fillmore district, where the zealous after-Trey crowd was eagerly awaiting to get down and dirty with the free flowing rhythms of ALO. Well into the wee hours of the morning, this sultry soulful down-home joint matched the atmosphere of NOLA in July, "like a warm bath right before we turn on the jets," as keyboardist Zach Gill put it. This was the Boom Boom Room on Friday night, Saturday morning to be exact, where the long wait quickly diminished as the band took the stage and the crowd began to be enraptured by a vortex of cosmic groove. The artists came out in Mardi Gras bohemian attire, complete with beads and feathers, setting a markedly bizarre, unconventional humor to the aura of the place.

The place was packed, hot and muggy, the crowd ready to expose its crazy creatures and get straight up wild and funky out on the dance floor. The place began to steam up with music and perspiration as the band began to jam, opening up with "Valentine's Day" straight into "Kolomana," which had a bit of Steely Dan infusion to it. The intimacy of the Boom Boom Room creates a space where you have no choice but to get freaky and shake your hips with everyone around you. This is what I always love about seeing ALO: they always bring it, that spirit and that feeling of community and that sense of reunion every time I see them. They have such a family a fans that always comes out, ready to get loose and liberate that untamed animal that we all have within.

"Let's get Late with a 'T'," shouted out with stamina to back it, came spiraling out of the mouth of lead guitarist Dan Lebowitz. This "multi-orgasmic guitarist" (a name given to him to be humorous, but I think it directly reflected his guitar playing for the evening) busted out with steady grooves that always led off into spontaneous orgasmic climaxes. Steve Adams, playing electric bass, really brought a soulful sentiment to the stage that night, always glowing with an enormous smile that matched his jester hat, placed comically upon his brow. Zach Gill, the synth man himself, took the crowd off on a comical, wildly fun funk masquerade, wearing a silk butterfly shirt to go along with his '50s-style pink feather crazed glasses. After quickly morphing into a dinosaur, Drummer Dave Brogan played drum beats that turned the dance floor into a rapturous mayhem of people boogying down.

This freaky foursome of funksters put on a great show, with special guest Adam Theis on trombone joining them for "Sneekin a Peek" and a hot rendition of "Chilly Chile." Joe Conte came out on the harmonica, bringing a bluesy vibe to the place, along with Adam Theis again on "Brother Be Strong." They pelted out two classic covers, "Train In Vain" by The Clash and "Heart of Glass" by Blondie, one right into the other, taking the audience to lofty heights with those old familiar beats. The room was smoking, fists were flying, and bodies were grooving to the greasy gumbo of jazzy, funky, bluesy AOL soul.

Just when you thought you had enough, ALO came out with one more song that put that idea to rest real quick. "Time is of the Essence," the highlight of the night for me, ignited a spark of creative energy, causing the crowd to go twirling around in circles, making the pressure of the place build with a velvety trance-fusion, oozing out with pure funk. This spell-binding concoction of spacey, dirty funk, multi-layered with synthesized infusions of pure techno groove, brought the crowd into one cohesive dance floor mania.

The night couldn't have ended better than with a harmonic lullaby, "The Lag Wedding Waltz" (a melody the band holds dear to their hearts), to send the worn-out crowd straight to their beds. Until that night there had never been words to the song, but Dave Brogan felt inspired and improvised some lyrics and a melody.

This is why I'm moving to the Bay Area: it's simply the music and the people, the community as a whole. What other place could you see two nights of Trey Anastasio Band (one with Santana wailing on the guitar, I might add) and a late night show 'til 5 in the morning with the sublime improvisational oriented quartet of ALO? I couldn't think of a better spot to be. Don't miss ALO as it sweeps up the West Coast with many gigs this summer, including a sweet stop at High Sierra.

Sarah Venning
JamBase | West Coast
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 6/15/03]

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