TEXT/PHOTOS BY JENNIFER KELLY
“Are you fucking excited?!?!” It’s not a question, really, more of a taunt, coming from Jared Tankel, the baritone sax player and ringleader of the eight-man Budos Band, who are very clearly, themselves, kind of excited. The Pearl Street crowd, medium-sized since it’s Good Friday and all, is also pretty well into it, and some of them say so, while others demonstrate their approval with wild hippie flailing dances, fists in the air, clapping. It’s a party, with a close-to-full bar set up right there on the stage – a large bottle of some sort of brown liquor, ice, cups and a frosty liter of vodka, a bit of which gets poured liberally for a fan in the front row.
The Budos Band has been in business since about 2005, melding a variety of funks – Ethiopian, afro-beat, Latin and American soul – in a high temperature, syncopated stew. This evening, they bring three percussionists: Brian Profilio on kit, Rob Lombardo a combined bongos and congas set up and Dame Rodriguez on all manner of struck and shaken instruments. Profilio, guitarist Thomas Brenneck and way out there bassist Daniel Foder conspire in a rock-band core, with Brenneck working the pedals for psychedelic effect, while Fodor, top-knotted, theatrical, plays the bass from behind, its base resting somewhere around his scrotum, the neck jutting out like…well, you can probably imagine. Layer over this the Latin rhythms of Lombardo and Rodriquez, the bright, jazz-like clarity of trumpet and saxophone, and you’ve got the Budos Band.
The show begins in a deep drone of organ (that’s Mike Deller) punctuated at intervals by a violent thwack of drums. A slow Sabbathy riff builds on the right hand side of the stage, as Brenneck and Foder join in, and then the heaviness shatters into a million funk-ruptured pieces as the beat goes light and syncopated and Tankel and trumpeter Andrew Greene pealing out over the top with sharp-edged sax and trumpet sounds.
This is, unfortunately, not going to be one of those reviews where you hear, song by song, exactly what the Budos Band played and how it sounded. I am pretty sure I recognize “Chicago Falcon,” “Up from the South” and “Scorpio,” and I know they played “Black Venom” because the trumpet player announced it. But really (and, I think, rightly), the evening blended into a hot haze of funk and rhythmic transport, and after a while, I stopped even trying to take notes.
I will mention that the Budos Band had to be coaxed back on stage for an encore, and the way it worked was this: the trumpet player led the audience in a chorus of “Hey, fuckin’ Budos Band” (and we repeated “Hey, fuckin’ Budos Band”, “Get the fuck back out there.” And for every three or four repetitions, another band member would saunter back on stage until they were all back. And then they played six or seven more songs at ever increasing levels of heat and excitement, and it was over. We wandered out dazed into a chilly night.