Friday night comes along and if you worked hard, you probably want to go out and get loose. San Francisco's Tongue & Groove proved to be a more than satisfactory desination to throw back a few and get down. Memphis met the Bay Area as Yamagata and boomshanka stole the whole room for the night and made sure NO ONE was left standing still, even the yuppies on the couches in the back shook a leg.
Yamagata opened this show with an electrifying set to end their three night run in the Bay Area. Joe (guitar), Jim (drums), Matt (bass) and Rick (trumpet) drove all the way out here from Memphis to play for an audience of people they didn't know. You've got to give a band a lot of credit for making a 3000 mile trip to play for a crowd of unknown size. At the Hotel Utah on Wednesday, they opened their set with a ten minute rendition of Beastie Boys' "In 3s," segueing in and out of covers and originals like "Dancing Goats," "Sliced Bread" and "Chinese Ants". This band enamored Bay Area showgoers this week and more than a few people are looking forward to their triumphant return to our town. Bring the full band next time, fellas! This lass thinks there's nothing that gets me up more than a little horn section to back up the shredding guitar that Joe Austin packs.
After packing up something else outside, I was ready for Boomshanka. The boomshanka set started out with "Field Trip", an instrumental opener filled with bass grooves. "I was dropping bombs out there," bassist Mike Warrington told me afterwards. As they continued, the entire set got more and more funked out. A mild-mannered bar became a sweaty house party through the music emanating from this septet. "Medulla Oblongata" further fueled this fire and showcased the superior slide guitar talent of Sean Leahy. Dude can play, flat out. Ryan Smith led the band with high energy on vocals and rhythm guitar especially on songs like the anthematic "First Thing Tomorrow" which opened the second set. Hidden in the back corner of the stage was Wade Larsen on Rhodes piano/organ who showed impressive keyboard pounding on the funky meters-esque "Full Circle". Solos were traded back and forth between the guitars and feisty Caesar Mercado on sax. Add that to the rhythm section made up of highly active Spencer Raymond on drums and Mike Warrington on bass and you have yourself a full on funk machine.
This band can be compared to the sound of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe but with more emphasis on guitar instead of an entire horn section. Good ol' get down and dance music! The sax solos were reminiscent of Karl's playing and Larsen's Rhodes really gave it that Robert Walter slash Greyboy feel. They even played a few Greyboy tunes, and played them well, I might add. If you want to go out and have a good time, go see boomshanka!
JamBase Funk Queen
San Francisco, CA
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