Turkuaz Live at Brooklyn Bowl: Putting the “FUN” in FUNK
This past Saturday, Brooklyn-based funk outfit Turkuaz headlined one of New York’s premier venues, Brooklyn Bowl, for a sold out performance in honor of the release of their brand new album, Future 86. With support from Playonbrother, Soulive drummer Alan Evans’ latest project, Saturday night in Brooklyn was looking good, as it usually does. Even for fans and frequent live supporters of both projects, though, this turned out to be just a bit rowdier than expected.
Kicking the night off with a bang was Alan Evans’ Playonbrother, formerly (and still occasionally known as) the Alan Evans Trio. There’s not much left to be said about members of the Royal Family that hasn’t been said already, but this trio made damn sure everyone walked away from their set with something to talk about. Consisting of Alan Evans on drums and lead vocals, Danny Mayer on guitar, and Beau Sasser of Akashic Record, and more recently the Z3, on keys, Playonbrother is a force to be reckoned with. Conjuring up spirits of old, seeing these guys play is like taking a trip back in time. Thrashing, raw drum beats, absolutely wailing guitar, and masterfully shredded organ, not to mention the filthy basslines Sasser simultaneously plays on keys with his left hand, left the audience speechless, breathless, and cleaning their chins up off of the floor. Too young to have experienced the likes of Traffic, Cream, and all of the other psychedelic blues rock of the ’60s and ’70s the world has come to know and love? Just check out Playonbrother, turn it up to 11, and let the nostalgia take over every fiber of your being. Even Clapton would have given a standing ovation after that “Sunshine of Your Love.” Rock and effing roll, friends.
As much praise as was showered on opening act of the evening, well-deserved praise at that, the men and women of the hour, the guys and gals of Turkuaz, deserve more than this review can offer. Throughout the history of different genres of music there have always been lulls; the disco era disappeared for a good twenty plus years before making a recent comeback in the electronic scene; metal gave way to the hard rock, grunge, and cringe-worthy nu-metal of the ’90s before picking the pace back up; even (popular) hip-hop and rap is experiencing this lull currently, as “Fight The Power” has given way to Drake mumbling the same line eighteen times over, which somehow became a hit (still wrapping my head around that one). Most recently, the funk explosion of the ’90s and early 2000s seemed to skip the second half of this generation. Sure, it’s alive and well in New Orleans, and bands like The Motet and Galactic still tour relentlessly, while classics like Lettuce, The Meters, and even the godfather himself, George Clinton, keep on doing what they do best. However, young, up-and-coming funk outfits are few and far between.
Well, folks, Turkuaz is that next generation of funk. Comprised of the seemingly endless energy of drums and bass holding down the rhythm section, two guitarists, one of which leads the vocal assault while the other conducts the soul train, three horns players, one of which thankfully also graces us with his beautiful voice, two rockin’ female singers with tambourines, and one full keys player (lead guitar and trumpet split ivory duties as well), Turkuaz sounds just as big as they look; the stage can barely hold the amount of talent they collectively hold, let alone their physical presence. From the moment the first note rang out on that windy night in Williamsburg, the energy in the room was off the walls.
It’s pretty remarkable that Brooklyn Bowl didn’t give in and collapse on itself considering how violently they tore the roof off that place, even pushing the crowd into such a frenzy that when the band members started jumping in unison on stage for the first song of the encore, the packed-out audience couldn’t help but join in, completely unprovoked. If one word could be used to describe this band, especially based on how they played on Saturday, it could only be “explosive.” It’s actually quite hard to describe anything that went down this weekend beyond a couple of adjectives—it was truly that good and that much of an experience. Next time you hear someone use that famous saying, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” just show them this band. Because in Turkuaz’s case, thank god they do.