bill bodkin gets down at Terminal 5 in New York …
The Pre-Game: Terminal 5 was hoppin’ for live music from Jump Street. The crowd was in the mood, wearing golden crowns (a nod to “The Royal Family”). The atmosphere, when the bands hit the stage was electric. And in the vernacular of Soulive, this night was a “rage fest.”
The Opening Act: Adam “Schmeeans” Smirnoff
The night opened with Lettuce guitarist Adam “Schmeeans” Smirnoff DJ’ing. This was a hit-or-miss set, and this was probably due to the set’s length. Schmeeans spun for over an hour, and with a the crowd amped for live music, you could tell they were getting a bit antsy with just a DJ on stage for this length of time. Let’s not completely knock his set — his old school hip hop mixes were fantastic and they really got the crowd moving. However, this came during the middle of set. The rest was a mix of electro and dubstep, which the crowd didn’t seem to be digging by the time the 45-minute mark past. If this were a tight 30-minute set, the crowd would’ve been really into it.
The Second Performance: Raul Midon
I had never heard of Midon before, but once he broke into his first song, I was immediately a fan. The blind multi-instrumentalist is one of the most unique musicians I’ve seen live. His guitar playing style is a combination of slapping (like a bass guitar) and plucking the guitar simultaneously. His voice was highly reminiscent of Stevie Wonder — soulful and mesmerizing. At one point, Midon played the bongos with one hand while playing the guitar with the other — it was absolutely insane. At this point in his set, he had the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hand for the rest of the night. When he appeared later in the night with Soulive, the crowd erupted with joy. This is a must-see artist.
Headliner No. 1: Soulive
If you had told me one year ago that I’d be in New York City excited to see a jazz/funk trio, I would’ve laughed at you. I have been a diehard heavy metal guy since ’96 and I had never given jazz or funk a serious listen. Yet after hearing Rubber Soulive for the first time I was hooked. And on this brisk October evening I wasn’t the only one hooked. People were alive, dancing, grooving, pumping their firsts — in essence, raging.
What’s amazing about Soulive is how Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Alan Evans, all wonderfully talented individual musicians, blend together as a unit perfectly. Each song the band performed highlighted each of the band members talents yet never did one outshine the other. It was all harmonious, passionate and flat-out awesome.
Krasno, center stage, was a human highlight reel with his fingers furiously flying over his frets. As someone who grew up on heavy metal shredding; watching Krasno’s refined guitar virtuosity on the band’s scorching finale “El Ron” was mind-blowing.
On the drums, Alan Evans was even more ferocious than when I first saw him earlier in the year at The Brooklyn Bowl. He brought the thunder with the greatest of ease, dexterously flicking his sticks on the skins at 100 mph.
On the organ and left-handed bass, Neal Evans was sensational. He made the funk funkier and the jazz jazzier. Watching him work the keys is like watching a DJ on the 1s and 2s, completely in the zone.
As for the crowd, they were in full rage mode — going completely bananas, pumping their fists during the band’s Beatles covers mid-set.
Simply put, if you’ve never seen this band live before, you must make it your mission in life to do so, especially if you appreciate great musicians at the top of their game.
Fourth Performance: Rahzel
After Soulive took their bows, the human beatbox and NYC rapper, Rahzel. Below is his a sample of his live performance.
Headliner No. 2: Lettuce
Born out of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Lettuce is an all-star collection of jamtastic musicians. Original Lettuce member and Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno performed with the band tonight (and every night on the tour) while Soulive’s Neal Evans (not an original Lettuce member) took control of the keys. Lettuce also features Adam Deitch, Grammy-award winning member of John Scofield’s band and member of the electronic duo, Break Science. Check out one of Lettuce’s red-hot performances below.