Kinetix with the Funky Honky Horns (of Irie Sol), The Waterfront, Menomonie, WI, 5/5-5/6
In the jam scene, and perhaps in all music scenes, energy is a high commodity. In some cases it doesn’t even matter how technically perfect a band might be, or whether or not they hit every change and every transition, if a band doesn’t bring the energy, that high voltage surge that can bring a room full of fans to a nearly orgasmic frenzy, they may not even get a second look.
The Colorado scene is an epicenter of energy, birthing high voltage bands in nearly every subgenre of the jam nation for well over 10 years now. One of the freshest is the Denver based quintet, Kinetix. Although they have been getting less than their fair of attention from jam enthusiasts, Kinetix is a well balanced, hard working, extremely high energy band full of talent. And their third trip to The Waterfront in Menomonie, Wisconsin, demonstrates they have established a following and a prestigious allure that could soon ring out throughout the rest of the country.
The Waterfront is a small place with a big heart, and it sits at the social center for an array of students, beer lovers and music fiends. Kinetix rolled into town fresh off of their most recent east coast tour, a tour which included a month long residency at Nectar’s in Burlington, Vermont, to play two back-to-back free shows for this varied audience and to kick off an extended Midwest tour that would last for nearly three weeks.
Kinetix truly has a sound that is all their own. At one point you will find them deep in the midst of a trance jam, resounding echoes spilling throughout the bobbing crowd sea, and the next minute they’ll be slamming down a hard edged groove to a fist pumping room of screaming heads jumping up and down in freaky unison. For a college town like Menomonie, that seems to be the perfect blend.
The first night The Waterfront hosted a Cinco De Mayo party with Kinetix as the main attraction. It was the end of the semester for the college students and the Wisconsin weather was finally beginning to grow warm, so the crowd was vibrant and ready to rock. Highlights of the night included an extended version of “Mr. Sinister,” as well as the high energy songs “Lights Out,” “Talking to Faces” and “Round and Round” (all material from their most recent studio release, Talking to Faces), and an intense version of “Chalkdust Torture.”
Kinetix has a reputation for covering a Rage Against the Machine song when they come to Menomonie, which Kinetix claims is exclusive to the bar venue and Menomonie. They chose to cover “Bulls On Parade” for this particular visit, and the place erupted into a near riotous state, with fists pumping in the air and people leaping up and down uncontrollably, screaming along with every verse.
The first night was a high energy show, with Kinetix performing many of their more complex and edgier material, no doubt aiming to establish a high vibe in order to get return visits in the second night.
The following day The Waterfront hosted a funk parade that weaved through the UW-Stout campus and downtown Menomonie with Kinetix taking part, ending with a surprise set at the parade’s conclusion. This “people parade” did not include any floats but rather about 60 folks, including a highway construction crew, dressed up in 70s clothing and all sorts of random costumes ranging from chickens and leprechauns to mustard packets and Scooby Doo, with hula hoopers, bubble machines and a slew of disco dancers following along. It was quite the funky spectacle.
Following the parade after returning to The Waterfront, Kinetix jammed for nearly an hour without even a pause between songs, and touched on everything from Talking Heads and Son Seals, to Jimi Hendrix and even some Phish. It was the perfect way to cap off the Waterfront Parade and put a step in everyone’s groove for the remainder of the day. Manager Dave Richter said that it was the most fun that they’d ever had on a Tuesday, and it’s safe to say that those who took part would agree.
Every year at The Gothic Theater in Denver, Kinetix is joined by a horn section to play a full set of 70s funk classics, a sold-out party which I am told is one of the best of the year. The second night of their two day Waterfront run, Kinetix was joined by the Funky Honky Horns (of Irie Sol) to replicate the experience for the people of Menomonie.
The first set started with a rocking version of “People Start Hopping,” a super trancey version of “Everything” and a take on Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle,” among others. The band almost seemed like a different group from the night before, opting for more groove-based songs, rather than the high energy edgier songs of the first night. It was a packed house and amongst the aviators, feathered boas, random chickens, sequence dresses, pimps and hoes, giant mustard packets, caped superheroes, huge lapels and disco skirts, a fervent energy was building for the 70s Funk set that was to come.
The horns from Irie Sol joined Kinetix for the second set to play a huge chunk of 70s Funk Classics, and by this time the crowd was approaching standing room only, and Kinetix were playing as hot as the room was itself. The setlist included takes on “Brick House” (Rick James), “Jungle Boogie” (Kool & The Gang), “Pick Up The Pieces” (Average White Band), “Super Freak” (Rick James), “Give Up The Funk” (Parliament), “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Stevie Wonder), “Give It To Me Baby” (Rick James), “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry), “What Is Hip” (Tower of Power), “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) and “Simultaneous Lovin” (Chef South Park) for good measure.
With a completely packed house, the energy was extremely high and the band was spot on with their 70s setlist selection, as was evidenced by the wild dance party and random group yells. The horns, who had met Kinetix only three hours prior to the show, synched up right off the bat. The band closed the show out with a nasty take on Rage’s “Killing In the Name Of” to a thunderous response.
Kinetix soared away the following day in their metallic spaceship tour bus, leaving behind a whole new crowd of fans awaiting their next return, still buzzing from the thick day of funk, groove and parades. We hope that they come back soon.