BoomBox 2.0: Keeping the Deep Funk Alive

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I remember the first time I saw BoomBox live. It was 2010 at Summer Camp Music Festival and Zion and Russ had the sunset set: 6:00 to 7:00 pm. It wasn’t a “rain all weekend year” for Summer Camp, so instead it was just blazing hot. The sun was slowly setting, and we were all willing it to creep behind the horizon juust a little bit faster.

I had never heard BoomBox before but after that first Summer Camp set, I was hooked. The sounds I heard flowing from the stage twisted into a perfect combination of funk, house and good ‘ol rock n’ roll. It was gritty yet seductive; deep and slow but so groovable. And that sax added a jazz element that tied it all together into a sound I easily fell in love with. To seal the deal, that same night they had a DJ set at 2:00 am in the Vibe Tent. This was before the Vibe Tent was on ‘roids and was still small, offering up an intimate, yet super sweaty, setting. It was the only time I’d ever seen BoomBox do a DJ set, but right then and there my love for their sound was clear. Over the years I’ve heard how BoomBox has evolved and honed their sound while staying true to those deep, psychedelic house, funky ass roots.

I’m only diving deep into this nostalgia bucket because just this past weekend I had the pleasure of catching BoomBox at the Majestic Theater in Detroit, MI. If you’ve been following them, then you know they had a recent member switch-up. Russ Randolph is no longer on the ones and twos, but is moving on to pursue a solo project. It was a big change and for some it may have been slightly scary. But after seeing the shows I’ve seen recently, I’m here to tell you that those BoomBox roots are strong and aren’t going anywhere.

BoomBox came into the Majestic and threw down a hot ass show that not many recently past BoomBox shows can contest. DJ Harry has taken Russ’s place on the ones and twos and brings it just as hard, if not harder. Coming from a deep house background, it seems he’s captured the essence of BoomBox effortlessly. It’s been said many times before that one of the driving forces behind BoomBox is its live, house element. When it was Zion and Russ, the two acted as a vibe sponge, feeding off the energy the crowd was giving them. When the vibe was lit and the guys were on, it made for some pretty amazing shows. But when I sat back and watched Zion and DJ Harry at the Majestic, I couldn’t help but notice a difference. The two were still feeding off the crowd’s energy- there was no doubt about that- but the transfer of energy was reciprocal. I had the feeling that no matter what energy the crowd had come with that night the guys would have created the energy they wanted to ensure every last body was boogying.

They played the tracks BoomBox fans love and would expect to hear like “Tonight”, “Stereo” and “Dirty Red Penny,” but also dug down deep and played a handful of obscure tracks that aren’t found on albums. I was stoked to hear “Please” and “Right Around Two” get thrown into the mix; and when “Baby Caught My Blues” makes an appearance it’s a surefire sign of a great show. (Go ahead, test it.)

All of these tracks are dripping with that classic BoomBox sound, and as I heard them flow from the stage I could see there is real chemistry between Zion and DJ Harry. Zion was in his element, hitting crisp clear notes and clearly having fun while doing it. He seemed relaxed and poised, playing each track with intention. DJ Harry was weaving in and out of tracks easily, and most importantly, keeping that house element of BoomBox alive. Between each track he’d take a couple minutes and throw down a quick mix that tied into the next track.

It truly was a great show, but the point I’m really trying to make with all this is that BoomBox hasn’t gone anywhere. With a member switch up, the sound hasn’t changed. In fact, it may actually be a crisper, more realized BoomBox sound. A return to those roots that twisted so intimately to form the sound I love. It was gritty, funky and seductive. It strikes a chord that makes you want to follow that backbeat with a steady swing of your hips and a slow sway of your arms. I can’t call this term my own, but it was slut funk. And I wouldn’t have my BoomBox any other way.

To finish it off, these two have only been playing together on tour for about a month. If they’ve sparked a visible chemistry this early on, I can only be led to believe that BoomBox has some great things in store for us in the coming months. Cheers.

 

Setlist:
Tonight
Bits and Pieces
Please
Thick as Thieves
Right Around Two
Baby Caught My Blues ****
Waiting Around
Laid Back and Loaded
Sahara
Wanted
Stereo
Funky Style
Dirty Red Penny
World

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~ by frantunes on February 3, 2017.

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