PFH and the Motet at Underground Arts Nov 20, 2014
Photography by Steven Philips, StSteven.com
Story by Kathleen Orlando
The Philadelphia Funk Hustle and Motet show at Underground Arts left me at a loss for words. I was so completely involved from the time Philly Funk Hustle opened with a Phish cover to Motet’s encore that the three and a half hour show seemed to fly by. The crowd was phenomenal, and both of the bands seemed to feed off that incredible energy. What we gave, they gave back, and it created this amazing loop that took me beyond the act of seeing the show. I experienced it. The audience was a mixed bunch, from business people to hippies, and everyone was grooving with the best of them. I think by the time PFH finished up there wasn’t a still body in the place (except that one guy sleeping on the couch, but he woke up for Motet).
Philadelphia Funk Hustle is a funk band from Philly (obviously) that is well known by those who frequented The Blockley and other local haunts. Their sound rides a wavy line that dances between funk, reggae, jam rock, and everything in between. The best thing about their show is the improvisation. When I said the band fed from the energy of the crowd, it was demonstrated in how they played. Knowing just what to play to reach the audience, and when to play it, and how, is an art form, and last night PFH nailed it. This night was one of the founding member’s last shows – as of today Tom Nelson (bass/synth) is on hiatus. No one is really sure what this means for the band, they’re known for a revolving door of band members. For last night’s performance they were joined by Kevin Cooper of Sakima on the keyboard, as well as Sean Youngman of the Underwater Sounds on drums.
Denver-based band The Motet has been around since 1998, and after twelve years of touring they seem to have reached their pinnacle. Their most recent album, The Motet, which was released in January of 2014, is the first album where all the work is completely that of the band members. They claim that this album embodies that which the band has striven so hard to become. It’s a perfect collaboration made up of hours of rehearsing and perfecting a modernly vintage funky sound. They showcased that wonderfully Thursday night, mixing great improv jams within the parameters of their existing music.
Thursday night certainly set the stage for a groovy weekend, with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds playing UA Friday night and the Main Squeeze and Dopapod playing District N9NE on Saturday. It’s going to be a funky weekend in Philadelphia, and I highly recommend to everyone reading this that you get out there and live it.