It was an unseasonably hot Thursday night in LA on May 5. That night, Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre hosted an equally hot double-bill featuring Ubiquity Records‘ artists Orgone and Monophonics. Both are West Coast bands steeped in the fine tradition of ’60s-’70s Funk, R&B and Psychedelic Soul.
For me and my workmates Leah and Nicole, it was a chance to experience live, that which we were turned on to, courtesy my buddy Lonesome Jack’s on-line podcast. We love all things that make you groove and both band’s funk-fueled performances did not disappoint.
Monophonics were first to the stage. The band originally set out to be a mostly instrumental outfit but on their latest album, In Your Brain, have incorporated more vocals, courtesy the band’s organist Kelly Finnigan. His strong voice and powerful delivery puts the fever in their funkhouse.
Along side band mates Ryan Scott (trumpet), guest trombonist Nadav Nirenberg, Austin Bohlman (drums), Myles O’Mahony (bass) Ian McDonald (guitar) the first part of their set included “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” and “You’re So Good To Me,” a powerful pair of tunes that could have easily fit onto albums from Sly & The Family Stone or Chambers Brothers, but with a very contemporary vibe.
Several numbers in, the band welcomed to the stage soul singer Ben l’Oncle Soul, a star in France, who killed it on a cover of Freddie Scott’s “Am I Groovin’ You” and his own “So Hard To Find,” a track from his Monophonics-produced album coming in September. A little later, the band brought out Orgone’s vocalist Adryon de Leon who impressed the crowd with her passionate take on Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” Then it was back to Finnigan for the song “I’d Be Nowhere Today” which featured him tearing up the keys a la Billy Preston followed by a soulful reworking of Cher’s ’60s smash “Bang Bang,” which brought their set to a close. Kind of.
Label mates Orgone were next up. The L.A.-based band also draws heavily on that sweet soul music of the ’60s & ’70s and performed a dynamic set of hip-shaking tunes that kept the joint jumpin’. Like Monophonics, the band is primarily known for their instrumental jams, and the songs featuring de Leon on vocals were a mighty force as well, as evidenced on “Anticipating” and her scorching cover of Ides Of March’s “Vehicle.”
They performed tracks from their latest releases “New You” 1 & 2, along with some older material. Mid-show they returned an earlier favor and brought Monophonics’ Finnigan back to the stage. He asked the audience – as if he didn’t already know the answer – “Y’all like Otis Redding?” and as the crowd shouted their approval, he launched into the soul legend’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”
As the THREE HOUR mark approached, horn players Darren Cardoza and Devin Williams left the stage, leaving keyboardist Dan Hastie, percussionist Chuck Prada, drummer Sam Halterman, guitarists Sergio Rios and Tim Glum, joined by Monophonics Ian McDonald, to close the set with a thrill ride-worthy performance of “Hot Karl” from their 2008 release “Bocano.”
AND IT STILL WASN’T OVER.
Just when you thought they couldn’t top themselves, BOTH bands took to the stage to perform an amazing encore. Me and my fellow travelers left the club shaken, stirred and completely funked-up!