Orgone, Stage 112, Missoula, MT- 6/20
Photo by Kevin Kenly
When Los Angeles born Afro-Funk ensemble Orgone comes to town you know without even walking in the door that you about to thrown into a pool of heavy dance-beckoning rhythms, soulful singing, and a collaborative musical creation that has become the calling card for this fun touring act since 1999.
L.A. Bands have a feel to them that is well, uniquely L.A., and this couldn’t being more true for Orgone who mix the Latin influences of Southern Californian, along with a raw rock star edge that shouts Los Angeles. When vocalist Niki Crawford comes on stage to belt our her full range of soul, it just adds an exclamation point to this feel. The difference with Orgone is they are a band between places, and thereby, a band in constant motion. They don’t have to be the largest act on the touring circuit to sell out shows as if they were, and though this 8 piece cannot be defined by one member over another, the rock-star persona that lead guitarist Sergio Rios embodies is as pure as it could get. He opens up with massive energy and his large smile that becomes contagious as it lends itself to the stage presence of everyone in the band, and thus to the crowd.
Without an opening act Orgone came out sometime near 10 p.m. and immediately delved into a percussion heavy funk instrumental, one that like most of their songs had ups and downs, and sewn a patchwork jam that jumped smoothly between a number of genres. If this was your first time seeing them it would be spell-binding by itself, but as a veteran fan and attendee of their shows I knew this was the same recipe they have been using for years, just different ingredients, and this is exactly what led to a nearly 15 minute opener with a full on segue sequence that took that band 180 degrees from where the song started. Horn players, Darren Williams (Trombone) and Devin Cardoza (Trumpet) are true team players who can supplement the heavy funk and offer much more as well.
After the grand opener the venue now packed was ready to move, and the group obliged. Following a brief introduction to Missoula by lead guitarist Rios, they kicked off a funk-riddled song that had James Brown’s name written all over it. By no way was it a cover, but it felt as if the soul-man himself and his talented band were responsible for all elements of this song. Halfway through the tune, Crawford, the lone lady among a band of men, came out and immediately took the show to another level with her powerful stage presence and even more powerful vocals. Recognizing fans from New Orleans Jazz Fest she reveled in the moment, saying hi to familiar faces and commanding the mic as she set a standard for the remainder of the show.
At the beginning of the next song she took time to allow every musician to showcase their chops by introducing each and every member. Beyond songs from their latest album, New You Part 1 (2013), they also performed funk tracks off of Killian Vaults and Cali Fever, both 2010 releases. Moving from funk to their Latin Afro-Beat, they performed a song with nearly the same name, “Latin Beat.” The ripping percussion of Stewart Killen moved from bongo pounding to conga manipulation for the most instrumentally complex tune of the entire show. Drummer and mainstay of the performance, Sam Halterman whipped away at the skins and it was at moments like these that the band did what only a few can, and that’s go from being eight separate musicians on stage to one moving, breathing, growing organism all of its own. The crowd was lost in their own movement and that band played to this energy, and if for one moment you could step out of yourself to actually discern a sound, or instrument then my hats of to you, because it was in these moments that Orgone, was simply one sound, from one origin, with massive appeal and the undeniable influence to make you move.
Their touring looks to not be stopping anytime in the future, and with New Your Part 2 on it’s way, their musical catalog can only grow as they continue to do so as a band. With great funk/jazz bands like The Monophonics, KDTU and many more, Orgone is slowly finding their role to play in this genre. They will continue their Summer with headlining shows and festival appearances. But no matter where they go and what they have on the horizon musically or as for tour dates one thing I can say with certainty: When they perform they bring everything that they have and leave it all on the table, they grow into a single organism, and they perform as one too. And no matter how you feel about getting down at a show, this is one of the best Funk Bands around today. One that will easily help you get your feet wet, as their music doesn’t just splash you with rhythm and soul, it throws you into the pool, from the first bass rifts to the last hurrah, like it or love it.