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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2001/09/26
by Paul Bucalo

Freekbass, Peabodys, Cleveland, OH- 9-22

Freekbass and the band emerge from the fog on stage in full funk regalia. Freekbass, the lead vocals and bass player, is wearing a white faux fur jacket, white leather pants, a white leopard print headband, and red tinted shades.

A funk intro repeats in the background.

Beta-17, the keyboard player, emerges in a vinyl suit and his baldhead and face are covered in silver paint. It gives an eerie comic book effect.

Sean McGary, guitar, and Joodi, sax and synthesizer, look almost normal standing on stage with the other two. Swift, the drummer, is too concealed by fog and his drum kit to make out any eclectic garb.

You spend money to see a show,” Swift explained to me before the show, “you want to be entertained. Anybody can play on stage, but the show takes work.”

“The reason the show looks like it does,” Joodi adds, “ is because this music is about letting go of everything and being in the moment, people can just let loose.”

“If it feels good, do it,” Swift concludes.

“Body Over Mind,” Beta-17 is not only explaining the show with those words, he is making an allusion to their new album.

“The best thing about this album is it can stand alone,” Freekbass says.

And he’s right. It was the album that initially caught my interest. Body Over Mind is an accomplishment of the Funk. That’s funk with a capital F.

“Funk has gotten a tongue and cheek quality, but it’s as much of an art as jazz,” Freekbass tells me. “Look at the Nuevo funk like Erika Badu, it’s always on a cult level with an underground quality to it.”

The music is definitely reminiscent of their producer, Bootsy Collins. However, Freekbass is quick to point out that they have other influences “Sly and the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz”

Freekbass says he met Bootsy while playing bass with Mudbone, a member of Bootsy’s Rubber Band. They both live in Cincinnati and decided to work together.

McCarthy met Bootsy while teaching music in downtown Cincinnati.

Beta-17 got hooked up with Freekbass after meeting him in a chat room on the web.

Swift, a self-styled “band slut,” was in 70-Slide, a band that opened for Freekbass. When they told him they needed a drummer, he jumped on board.

Joodi was already part of Shag, Freekbass’s former band, and was invited to join the new project.

“We recorded a lot of our live shows and just sort of hung out with Bootsy. After a while we got the live stuff down good and decided to go into the studio.”

2YK was their first single and Body Over Mind soon followed.

As good as the album is with its strong base and contagious rhythms, the live show is definitely their strong point.

When the show began at Peabody’s it seemed like no one was interested. Their had been a couple of local opening acts and the patrons were milling about doing their normal Saturday night bar browse. By the second song, everyone had taken notice of the Funky beats, and crazy freaks on stage. By the third song almost everyone was dancing and jockeying for a position up front.

The characters on stage interacted with the audience the whole time. Saying “hello” asking us to dance, yell and let go of our inhibitions.

The synthesizer and keyboards offer a connective transitional effect. The guitar vacillates between rhythm and lead. The base dominates, even (rarely) when it’s doing the backbeat.

“I think we work well with the jam band audiences because the music is accessible,” Beta-17 told me before the show.

”We sound nothing like a jam band,” McGary told me, “but sometimes we just go with it and people feel it.”

The band agreed that they loved to see tapers at the show as long as they hook the band up with a copy.

I had to disagree with McGary after seeing the show. They flow from one song to the next and they have that symbiotic relationship with the audience. As the dance floor fills with intensity the band amplifies it and shoots right back at them. Further more, it is a must see show. The album’s great, but one really can’t appreciate the characters and the feeling without experiencing it first hand.

“Sometimes I feel like I am becoming the character,” Joodi admitted.

“The music is just as important,” Freekbass shot back. And that is definitely the attitude they portray on stage. You see the characters, as the audience you interact with them, but we’re all there and dancing and going wild because the music is wonderful. It strips you of your worries, whether they are worldly or personal. It’s like a drink or a drug, you loose all control and begin to dance with no regard for image and that’s what this band accomplishes.

They’ll be coming to Cleveland again in December, and I know I’ll be there.

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