A Frightful, Fancy, Funky Affair: Royal Family Halloween Ball in Philly
This past Saturday, Lettuce and Soulive returned to Philadelphia for Part 2 of their epic Royal Family Halloween Ball weekend, which began at New York City’s Terminal 5 on Halloween. The Philadelphia edition of the Halloween Ball also marked the final venue show of Lettuce’s extensive 2014 Fall Tour, giving the show added significance. Neither band disappointed this night, doing justice for both the Royal Family label and the spookiest weekend of the year.
After a short 45-minute set from opening DJ act, Branx, three-piece jazz fusion ensemble Soulive took the stage. Dressed to the nines as is their typical M.O., the organ-heavy trio created a perfect flow. The band started off with a sexy-smooth jazz lounge feel, increasing the energy over the course of the set, which provided a great flow into the heavy punch of funk that is Lettuce. Given the way in which Eric Krasno’s role in Lettuce has diversified to include synth work, it’s a treat to see him front and center on stage, shredding on his guitar with the intricate precision of a surgeon the entire set. Drummer Alan Evans didn’t miss a beat and his cymbal work was stunning as always, while keyboardist Neal Evans flawlessly held down both bass lines and organ melodies.
Lettuce brought their characteristic explosion of energy from the second they appeared on backstage, with bassist Eric “Jesus” Coomes donning Thor helmet and swinging the superhero’s hammer with spunk. The band began with an absolutely killer version of heavy-hitter “Madison Square,” that went deliciously dark with a Pink Floyd tease and Eric Krasno hauntingly contributed on the vocoder and synth in addition to his traditional guitar work. It was a perfect way to open a show on a Halloween weekend. What happened after was no less impressive. Adam Deitch was simply a machine, Alecia Chakour managed to shine on vocals for a few of the band’s newest tracks despite the acoustics at the Electric Factory making it difficult to hear at times, and guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff and keyboardist Neal Evans even took to the mic during one number. The funk powerhouse put on a particularly memorable version of “Lettsanity” with a mind-numbingly powerful solo by saxophonist Ryan Zoidis with trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom accompanying him on cowbell and Jesus killing it with a funky bass strut that along with Deitch’s mathematical beats provided the perfect backbone.
By the end of the night, the Royal Family had given Philly a frightfully delightful way to continue the Halloween celebrations. Lettuce ended their tour with quite a bang and attendees left in ghoulishly high spirits. Both bands are on a roll at the moment with Soulive having recently announced a three-night New Years run and Lettuce announcing their Winter Tour, aptly coined “2015, A Funk Odyssey.” You can check here for Lettuce’s updated tour schedule and here for Soulive’s.