Sunday, December 22, 2013

Afrosonics, Rosa dos Ventos and Henchmen for Hire @ Neurolux (12/17/13)

I caught Afrosonics' set at the Boise 150 Sesqui-Party back in July and liked what I heard.  Upbeat, multicultural funk--just the thing for a James Brown-enamored music writer who gets awfully tired of the same old surf-garage stuff.  I was also impressed with bandleader Dayo Ayodele's nonprofit Global Lounge, which seeks to help immigrants adjust to living in the Treasure Valley.

I got the chance to write a Boise Weekly feature about Afrosonics and Global Lounge.  When some free time came up on my calendar, I decided to come down and check out the band's new lineup.  I also looked forward to checking out two local groups I'd never seen before, Rosa dos Ventos and Henchmen for Hire.

I counted about 40 people at Neurolux when I arrived.  When Afrosonics played, I counted 65.  I'd like to think that my article helped persuade some of these folks to come down, but that's probably a little hubristic.

Henchmen for Hire opened the show.  This band's soul- and reggae-tinged sound had an adult alternative feel to it--Dave Matthews, Counting Crows, like that.  I'm sure that's enough to make some readers run screaming for the hills, but really, this group wasn't as bad as all that.  For one thing, their lead guitarist was sharp--terse, tasteful but capable of letting off some fireworks.  For another, lead singer Gabe Hess managed to deploy some soul mannerisms (some moans here, a little melisma there) without embarrassing himself.  The band sounded stiff and nervous at times, but a few more gigs should limber them up.  Also, any group that can do all right by Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" and Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing" (not to mention cite James Brown and Marvin Gaye as influences on its Facebook page) has its heart in the right place.

Rosa dos Ventos played next.  This Portuguese/Brazilian/Latin American music group sure didn't need to limber up.  Their horn-like keyboard, fluid rhythm section and snarling guitar hit so fast, tight and hard that they could've been auditioning for the JB's.  Kristine Nunes's warm, low voice had some impressive power, but like the rest of her bandmates, she didn't feel the need to show off her chops too much.  It took the crowd a little while to get on its feet, but the dance floor had filled in pretty well by the end.

Afrosonics closed out the show.  "Rhythm is the key," Dayo Ayodele said at the start of the set, and his band's funk/jazz/reggae-inflected grooves proved him right.  Malleable, hard-driving bass and drums weaved with manic guitar and quirky, dexterous keyboard solos.  The rough, friendly vocals added a nice human touch.  At times, the whole mixture called to mind one of my favorite groups, Sly and the Family Stone.  I don't know if the folks in radio-land caught Ayodele's closing admonition to support local music, but hopefully, they at least caught his opening shout-out to the late, great Nelson Mandela.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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