…….continued from Night 1 of Karl Denson @ The Brooklyn Bowl (04.23.10)
Before I knew it, my head had hit the pillow in my bed the night before and just like that, my feet were back to hitting the pavement to the Brooklyn Bowl. The NY Funk Live group was gathering tonight to make sure the dance floor was packed and the energy was high. Such a genuinely good group of people. I encourage all funk friendly followers to look into the group and see if it’s for you. A fellow funksters shirt caught my eye and made me giggle. I hope you get a kick out of it also.
It was the second night of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at the Brooklyn Bowl. I was arriving a bit early to meet my buddy who was going to introduce me to just the best damn falafel I have ever eaten. The place is called Oasis and it is right at the L train Bedford stop, first stop into Brooklyn from Manhattan. Oh my goodness, it was just so good! Not oily, the extras: the red cabbage, the pickles, the hot sauce, were all so different yet all worked so well together. SICK! And it was $3.50. No lie, it is now what I plan on eating every time I head to the Brooklyn Bowl now. Yup! Yup! Light yet filling and $3.50…Word!
We arrived again before 9pm and there is only a slight line at the ID check this time. Once inside, it’s right to the front, makin’ my way to my regular spot to lay down my things. A few buddies are already marking their territories at the front of the stage. After chatting with them, I turn around to get my little notebook out and there is a NYC condom laying on my purse. I look to the guys elevated above me in the bowling section and they just smile with their smirky grins and raise their glasses. Seriously? Looks like someone else was marking his territory. I place the love token in my purse and turned around to the men in the joint that had some class…my friends 🙂
I was not on point for this show. Because I was so focused during the first show, I felt like I wanted to just melt my face off and dance tonight. This review won’t be nearly as long as Night I. I seemed to focus more on taking pictures then notes. Karl and his Universe took the stage around 9:45pm this time. Hell of a lot earlier then the previous night of an hour later. Right into a full out saxophone rage from Karl Denson. I am not sure if they really played The Bridge or not. I don’t recall that song being played but the set list says otherwise… Either way, the first song was a HUGE rage fest and a great way to open. EVERYONE was focused, attentive and dancing. The stage was set up as follows, from left to right:
David Veith (keyboards)
Chris Littlefield (trumpet)
John Staten (drums)
Karl Denson (saxophone/flute)
Chris Stillwell (bass)
Brian Jordan (guitar)
The first song I recall is Kool Is Back. I love this song. The horn bring you right in with a catchy tune. Karl picked up the tambourine and everything got really funky. Brian gave us a guitar solo created off of his rift that is the background of the song. The banging of the cowbell, John Staten just ripping apart the drums. He was always inserting extra smack downs in the lulls of the other instruments which I appreciate. This song reminded me of a 60’s game show for some reason. Again, I think that if each of these artists had a band of their own, I would go see them all. This song is so full of yummy jazz flute I can’t stand it. FAST jazz flute. Karl’s fingers were moving so fast and he was bouncing to the rhythm of his fingers. My friend SCREAMS his monstrous scream in recognition of the slaughter that is taking place with the flute. And Karl KILLS it. Both horns are picked back up and they blast out the ending with Brian leading the way with the funky rift.
At this point, Karl’s horn insanity is taking down to a medium slow growl, a really jazzy sound emits and the song changes. Galaxy!! “On a rocket ship /No time to wait /I just want to gravitate!” sings Karl. They hit the lyrics pretty hard in this song, little play from the instruments. At least for a little bit! We got some interpretive jazz sax from Karl and people screamed. The drums got louder and Karl got faster. My friend tapped me on the shoulder to hand me some love. We danced around. I heard the tambourine. As I look at my notes, I see where my friend wrote PEACE + LOVE = FUNK!! I think he might be on to something. 🙂 So, there is a part in this song where they kind of let the slow, low, minimalist movement take over and not much happens. He lost me. I started thinking of a friends who weren’t there and and texted them pictures. It was just a really jammy sloooow background for some chatting to commence for a few good measures. But the nice part about these lulls, they pick up fast and just intensify and makes your head EXPLODE. Yeah, Karl knew what he was doing. And no pun intended but SPAAAACE!!! I couldn’t figure out where some of the sounds were coming from, finally figuring out the horn sounds were coming from the keys? Shoot, I still may be wrong. I was loosing my mind waiting for the song to explode in my face. My notes mention something about there being wasted time pickin’ and that is because I just wanted Brian to rip my face off with his fingers on the guitar. He stands there with such a darling smile on his face and its like he is busting to blow out the guitar but he doesn’t. Honestly, I can’t tell who I want to hear more. Who did I come to see? They were all so great. “Outta Sight, Outta Sight” sings Karl twice. Honestly, this Tiny Rager was in the middle of a Tiny Universe but I was entirely in my own world.
YES!! YES!!! YES!! I heard the Reggae beat, the dance in my legs shifted immediately. It moved up to my hips and the salsa vibe was pumping. Might Rebel was serve up so nicely. I longed for Debrissa McKinney’s voice immediately as she sings with them on their latest album, Brother’s Keeper. This is easily one of my top five KDTU songs. JUST LOVE THIS SONG! Gypsy rage! Russ ask to borrow a lighter, confusing me because he doesn’t smoke, and holds it in the air swaying it back and forth. We giggle. It was definitely a moment for that. Karl looked directly at him, because you just cant miss this guy standing out with his red hair and giant stature holding a lit lighter, and with a beaming smile, nods in recognition of the act. Russ adds some reggae beats with his mouth in the crowd and its hilarious. It fits. This is such a different song from the others being played that night. It was so very Reggae and it was a nice change. All the musicians soloed and just killed it. Coming together at the end, it was just a pure hippie rage in depth. Very heady and it was over just like that.
Shake It Out was next and it was the same as the night previously. I just set everything out and shook it out. No notes, no recollection of anything fantastic happening. Just dancing machine! Hands in the air, spinning, knocking into my pal who was trying to contain himself but I could see in his eyes that he wanted to freaking flip out 🙂 Ah, reservation, I know you not.
And honestly, the set list said “Elephant” was next but it wasn’t. It made it’s way into the second set. New York City was to rage the closer. And I mean RAGE! It was a slow start at first and then it was a shit show of EXPLOSIVE funk all over that stage. The ending of that set was one of the most intense endings of a set I have seen since Bowlive. It was off the charts funky fantastic. The energy was palpable, the place was packed. And with that, they walked off the stage. It was time to rage the bench and discuss…I was so high from all the goodness of that night that my vision was literally like a rippling pond at one point. Out of control. Damn, what a closer.
Set I: The Bridge, Kool Is Back, Galaxy, Mighty Rebel, Shake It Out, New York City
For the first time,we were not allowed outside of the front to walk around, smoke, get some fresh air . We were confined to an area outside the front door, slightly herded. I am still wondering what that was all about. After the insanity of amazingness that was Bowlive, these Karl Denson shows were definitely some of the the most amazing/fun shows I have seen at the Brooklyn Bowl to date. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has a ridiculously ginormous amounts of soul. It’s endless, full of funk, jazz, blues, and rage. A GREAT team.
At this point, I just have my dancing shoes on and am not thinking of much else. Steamed Water was awesome and I danced so very hard during that song. David Veith really stood out on the keys during this set. I had been hearing what I thought was a flute all weekend and it was his sound. I don’t know if it was where I was standing. But he always sounded like a flute. I remember thinking that at that point I would just be happy to have the horns surrounding me on all side just blowing my head off. I was so needy for them it was ridiculous. I remember distinctly wanting crawl inside one of the horns and live in it. Definitely out of control.
Trampled Underfoot, a Led Zepplin Cover, was “all about the love.” Brian worked his magic on the guitar once again. I just love his smile. Chris Littlefield in tempo with the shaker as Karls on the mic, for like 7 measures, a lot of time on the cowbell. I remember specifically texting that to a friend haha. But again Karl ransacked the stage with his horn and the biggest cheer of the night came blasting out of the crowd. I mean how do you not scream when guitars are jamming, horns are IN YOUR FACE NASTY, the drummer is basically on his feet, breaking his bloody sticks in half with each beat. The crowd goes ape shit and Karl extends his arm in recognition of the cheer – the place erupts once again. Back on the cowbell, Karl mentions his anniversary again. So special, it made my heart yearn. “I cant stop talking about love,” says Karl. How very special. Another dance in unison between Chris Littlefield and Karl.
And the shit just kept hitting the fan. Karl blew me away in The Grunt. I know I am talking about him a lot but he was the main reason I went to the show. How many time can I say he blew that horn, raged that horn, he was was awesome. He brought a little jazz back into the otherwise funky song. A few blats of improve was nice, a 3 minute jazz solo, real nice. I remember there was chanting at one point, “NYC, NYC NYC!!!” I completely spaced out for a while dancing around my little area, it had gotten a bit tight up front at this point, some odd photographers were bouncing around. I don’t know if they changed songs or were in the same one but we got a taste of Brian’s funky guitar and that cute smile. Wearing a vest over a white shirt with jeans, he was lookin’ adorable that night. Everyone looked sharp! God, I love good music. “Make some noise in here,” shout’s Karl. The venue screams in unison. There were sooooo many people there compared to the night before. It was shocking. Where had they all been Friday night? I was very glad they were there. I wanted Karl and his Tiny Universe to know how much NYC loves them:)
An introduction to the next song, still unsure of the name. Karl says, “Everything we do is for the ladies! Am I right?” Everyone screamed. “You know it, they know it…..but just this once, we got a little something for the fellas. This song is for the fellas.” There is a little instrument banter and he continues, “Why are you scared? You know there is always someone out there uglier then you so don’t be afraid, do it – go after it – you have nothing to fear but fear itself” The song was beautiful. For some reason, I have “Animal Kingdom” in my notes?? And that I wanted more flute. I was becoming oblivious. Perhaps the song was Groove On, I think it was, the set list says so but I still can’t recall. See, this is why I have to write the set list down as the show progresses or I just forget everything.
Elephant was DEFINITELY next with Karl on the shaker and Chris Littlefield on the cowbell. See, lots of time spent on these funny side instruments, but it was all part of the sound 🙂 What a great song. So heavy, so funky. The title evokes visions of elephants walking in a pack as soon as the tune begins. Brian lays down the melody of the tune with his strings and Karl laces it out on the flute. Yes, a heady, herdy elephant song with flute! There was major mouth action this time as he purposefully added in the sounds from his mouth as he blow the flute. The sound emitted takes on an entirely different texture when the artists allow their mouth sounds to dominate the sounds of the instruments they are playing. Some folks don’t care for it, but I do!!
Here we got our first and only guest treat for the evening. Out walks this lovely female, in a black vest, black tee, black jeans, and boots that looks liked they were broken in years ago, the “oh so comfortable” kind. Jessica Lurie, a female saxophone player currently transplanted from Seattle to Brooklyn was the special guest for the evening. I bet she played with Skerik all the time while in Seattle. I would love to see that duo. SHE RAGED IT!! I actually would have liked to have seen her perform more but he song didn’t allow for it as Karl was on his sax having to lead the herd through the song. At one point both saxophone payers were not playing, but instead using the shakers and graters to back up Brian on the guitar. I wanted more from Lurie. I was intrigued. She is definitely on my radar and I hope to see her again soon! Karl belts a solo on the flute and Jessica is on various percussion instruments. She definitely didn’t just stand there, which was great. At the end, they were all on the horns, everyone was jamming but not melting our faces. I was longing for that energy from the last song of the first set. And then Brian’s guitar was crying as Karl interjected with hoots and yelps reminiscent of tribal banter, spiritual chanting if you will. HE SCREAMS! And the energy rose, oh so high. Russ screamed back, completely overcome with emotion from the song, he just couldn’t help it. Karl stomped this herd into the ground with Lurie at the end. Brian brought the funk and it was just killer. And then everyone exits the stage except for John Staten who has picked up the song, and taken it as his own…it was his time to shine! Enjoy the video! I personally like Karl’s little jig at the end of the clip! RAGE JOHN RAGE!
Might Mouse was slated on the set list but they choose to rage another. At this point a fan had come up to Karl and shouted something, He said, “OK! SO then we will play that song next for you, Happy Birthday!” So kind, so genuine Such a good man, on top of being a good musician. Soul Drifting would be the song of choice and it was full of just more funk and fun. David Veith mouthing the “sounds” he was making on the keys. I was so focused on the horns and the guitars that I lost track of the keys and for that I apologize. The keys were light, shifty, breezy. Everyone was smiling. Karl places the mouth piece on his sax again and it creates the low growl. “I feel like talking tonight.” says Karl. He doesn’t talk so much as he gives us such a pretty jazzy flute, like a humming birds wings, his fingers were flying. I closed my eyes as the song willed me to. It was such a slow jam at first and then he screamed so soulfully, so fast. Brian picked up his pace and just let loose on the strings, Karl picks up percussion instruments, I danced so hard I fell over. Yup! Just fell over…I was out of my mind, as were the people surrounding me; the people up front, paying attention to the slaughter that was taking place. “Thank you New York! Thank You New York,” screams Karl to the beat of the song. And that feeling of dread that floods over you when you know a show is ending immediately flooded in. Had two nights of Karl Denson really just come and gone just like that? Perhaps for many, if not most people, they can just go home having enjoyed the night, being able to move forward and immediately think of things on their to do lists the following day….moving forward. Not me, I get stuck in the moments and I truly dislike being pulled out of them. I truly is an addiction. It makes me tankful for these opportunities to write for yall, and for myself, to relive the memories and have a record of them. It allows me to release and move forward like the “regular” folks 🙂
The stage was empty, no one moved, and everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs. Of course, we all wanted more. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to the the stage of the Brooklyn Bowl one more time that weekend and gave us a hell of an encore: Bougainvillea! Of and older CD, The D Stands for Diesel, Karl says, I got an old skool song for ya.” The flute goes right into it, light, jammy guitar, interesting sounds with the keys. I was really too busy dancing to worry about much else. Then the flute is put down and replaced by the saxophone. Jessica Lurie came out and joined the session. “I’ll sing you a song all night long,” shout’s Karl. And the horns ended the evening blasting into the night and off the stage. You know how I said this wouldn’t be a long review? I lied 🙂 It was too good to summarize. And when this review completed….it’s off to the next adventure 🙂 because I have just released!!! 🙂
Set II: Steamed Water, Trampled Under Foot (Led Zeppelin Cover), The Grunt, Groove On, Elephants, Soul Drifting, Bougainvillea