The eve of Christmas Eve, Kung Fu headlined Toad’s Place for a special holiday show. This was the first time the outfit has headlined the venue, though members Tim Palmeri and Adrian Tramontano have in their former outfit The Breakfast. Saxophone player Rob Somerville has also graced the stage many a time with his band Deep Banana Blackout. Keyboardist Todd Stoops of RAQ and bassist Dave Livolsi of John Scofield’s band and Jazz is Dead round out the ensemble. This show held special importance to the funk super group as for many of them it was a homecoming for the holidays after a long year on the road. Kung Fu began in 2009 as a jam session and their sound has since progressed into what they have dubbed “Jazztronic” mixing funky jazz fusion with electronic sounds.
This was my first time seeing the band outside of a festival slot, so in many ways it was my first true experience with them. After opening sets from Rizzo’s Dilemma and the Step Kids, with New York DJ Wyllys spinning between sets, our evening’s headliners took the stage. I was impressed with their sound as soon as they broke into their first track “Rocks.” The combination of bands that comprise this super group does justice to this group’s sound described above. They jammed through several tracks and one thing that stuck out to me was the phenomenal skills displayed by keyboardist Todd Stoops.
Many special guests came out during the bands show including Somerville’s DBB bandmate Cyrus Madan on keys during “Bringing up the Rear.” The best treat of the night though was Trey Anastasio Band trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick joining the band for their entire second set. The set was comprised of Kung Fu originals as well as two of Hartswicks won songs, “If You Don’t Wait” and “Walk Away,” which both showed off her stellar vocals. The set came to a close with “Chakrabarty Overdrive,” an explosive transcendental funk jam that once again brought to my attention the sync that the band members have with one another. They returned to the stage for a two song encore that included “You’ve Got the Love” and a fitting tune of the holiday spirit “This Christmas.” Hartswick joined the band for both encores, while Step Kids guitarist Jeff Gittleman emerged from backstage for the latter. For fans who have been seeing their respective bands for over a decade now, to see them together truly made this Christmas “A very special Chrismas.”
Kung Fu ~ Toad’s Place 12/26/11
God Made Me
Bringing Up The Rear (w/ Cyrus Madan of DBB on Keys)
If You Don’t Wait (Hartswick original)
Walk Away (Hartswick original)
E: You’ve Got The Love
This Christmas (with Jeff Gittleman of Step Kids on Guitar and Dan Edinburg on Melodica)