The Stones Throw Soul Tour with Peanut Butter Wolf @ Urban Lounge 08.21 with Myron & E., The Stepkids, Dam Funk

Posted September 2, 2013 in

Peanut Butter Wolf. Photo: Jake Green
The Urban Lounge was getting full before Myron & E. took the stage on Wednesday night. The singer duo is backed by the The Soul Investigators on their record, but for the Stones Throw Soul Tour, were backed by The Stepkids, who played their own material in a set directly after Myron and E. Dam Funk (pronounced: dame) followed with his own mix of soulful tunes. Stones Throw founder, Peanut Butter Wolf, took the audience back to 1974 and beyond with some vintage soul tracks paired with live visuals from a projector of the bands’ sets.

It was getting on 10:30 p.m. before I heard Myron & E. on stage from the back patio. When I walked through the double doors leading into the venue, I encountered a sea of people that started at the stage and went back until it blended with those waiting in line at the bar, creating a perfect storm of high traffic, high tensions and spilt drinks. If you’ve never had somebody dump half his beer all over your shoulder and face at a show, you should try it sometime, it’s super wet.

Myron & E. sounded good with The Stepkids behind them. For normally having a six or seven piece band complete with a horn section, their funkadelic sound didn’t suffer at all when singing with only a trio. They played tracks off their 2013 release, Broadway, and the energy of these tracks showed through in their live set. Even for the opener for the night, the floor was packed and everybody was dancing.

During Myron & E.’s set, I couldn’t help but notice the superior musicianship of The Stepkids. Apparently a good number of people in the crowd noticed it too, because the band walked back on stage to enormous applause. What followed was some of the best and most chill-inducing playing I’ve ever seen at the Urban Lounge. All three members are classically trained in their instruments, something that’s taken highly for granted these days, and what’s more is their talent for the most difficult of classical styles, mother-fucking jazz. This band isn’t something you see very often, people. All three members played in perfect tempo and sang in perfect harmony with one another all the time. Most bands these days don’t even know what a pentatonic scale is. Guitarist Jeff Gitelman can improvise through any number of scales with nary a glance at his fret board. Dan Edinberg can walk a baseline all night long while Tim Walsh can keep a tempo and belt out a tune at the same time. In a matter of 45 minutes, The Stepkids restored my faith in my generation’s music.

Dam Funk has been on Stones Throw since 2007, but has been making a name for himself DJing and remixing funk tracks for over 10 years around the Los Angeles area. His set consisted of more than just spinning tracks, however. The use of both a Roland synth key-tar and vocal effects through the mic added to the trance-funk-mosphere. Dam Funk’s jams kept the crowd dancing from the end of the Stepkids’ set all the way to the start of Peanut Butter Wolf, who came on stage to spin for the last 10 minutes of the set while Dam Funk jammed away on his keytar.

Let me start by saying Peanut Butter Wolf’s set was odd, to say the least, and for a number of different reasons. First, he asked the crowd if they had any requests. I heard cries of Quasimoto, MF DOOM and Charizma; and after saying “I love hearing what you guys want to hear,” it became clear he had no intention of playing anything the crowd requested. In fact, he had no intention of playing any PBW tracks at all that night. Instead he compiled a playlist of some great soul tunes, pairing them with the live recordings of those bands playing their songs. First up on the projector screen was James Brown. It was kind of a trip actually, seeing a life-size projection of Soul Brother #1 walk on stage, throw his jacket on the ground and grab the mic for 1974’s performance of “The Payback.” At some point in the middle of the set, Myron and E came on stage, grabbed some other people and started dancing. Soon the stage was full of people who were once in the crowd. The dancing I saw before me was incredibly shitty and it lasted way too long. There were too many white kids with not enough dance moves, trying to get all up on girls and giving their friends below a series of triumphant shouts and thumbs up gestures. At this point, it had officially turned from a show into a house party with a cover charge. After that subsided, there was another short resurgence of a few more people who wanted their stage time, who were this time kicked off stage by security. Peanut Butter Wolf played until past two in the morning until the sound engineer signaled that he needed to stop.

I hung around the smoking area for a while after the show and a lot of the conversation I heard was about The Stepkids. I will have to agree on this one. The jazz trio from Connecticut rocked the house and stole the show.
Peanut Butter Wolf. Photo: Jake Green The Stepkids. Photo: NoMSG