REVIEW: Watching Dumpstaphunk, Fishbone concert from comfort of home

Fishbone recently played a concert with Dumpstaphunk. Photo courtesy of Steady Jenny.
Fishbone recently played a concert with Dumpstaphunk. Photo courtesy of Steady Jenny.

Seeing a live concert is, for lack of a better word, an awesome experience. There are bands and musicians who sound better and drum up more energy when on the road, and that’s especially true for the talented acts out of New Orleans, perhaps the most famous music city in the world. Dumpstaphunk is one of those bands that seems to earn worthy adulation in a concert hall.

This reporter first saw them play a couple songs at the eighth annual Nolafunk Mardi Gras Ball at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York last year. Recently, the opportunity presented itself to see them live on a shared bill with Fishbone for Live for Live Music’s second-annual Phunksgiving, this time performed at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y. However, rather than catching them in Port Chester, this reporter tried out a new concert-going experience: the streamed-live gig. From the safety of a comfortably warm house, and $9.99 shared with LiveDownloads.com, both Dumpstaphunk and Fishbone were broadcast on this reporter’s laptop.

The experience was surreal, satisfying from a music experience and yet distant from a concert perspective. Taken in its totality, with more than three hours of music entertainment, the second-annual Phunksgiving was a phunky good time in a completely different setting than concertgoers were experiencing. It’s not better than the real thing, but it’s certainly a cool option.

Most of the reason the concert was so enjoyable was because of the bands, but more on that later. It was also because of the Capitol Theatre’s talented camera crew that the concert felt so real and visceral. This was not merely a stationary camera in the back with shoddy acoustics. The bands were filmed from multiple angles, taking in shots of the swaying crowd, closeups of the musicians and a peripheral vision of the psychedelic lights on the ceiling of the Capitol.

The sound was solid, although not perfect. Everything that was sung into the microphone and the instruments that blared through the amps were heard quite easily. The problem, as can be expected, came when Fishbone and Dumpstaphunk called for a response from the crowd. Not only was the fan adulation missing from the audio, but it also reminded this reporter that he was not present in the actual concert hall. This constant reminder of the physical (and musical) distance was a bit of a downer, especially when Fishbone’s lead singer threw himself on the crowd in mosh fashion. But, by and large, the home concert-going experience was much better than expected and offered a helpful solution for a concert that was a little too far away to drive on the night before Thanksgiving.

Now, on to the performers. Fishbone was actually not the opening act. That responsibility fell on the Dust Rays featuring Captain Kirk Douglas of the Roots (their set was not shown on the stream). So, when Fishbone took to the stage at 9 p.m., it appeared like the crowd was ready to go, ready to take in the band’s unique mixture of ska, punk and funk.

The band has an infectious energy, with lead singer Dr. Madd Vibe (Angelo Moore) bouncing around the stage, instigating the crowd to give him more energy and bringing the songs to verve-filled life. Some of the songs morphed into spoken-word pieces where Vibe asked (demanded) the audience for an answer. Even watching on a laptop, turning away from the band was not an option; they commanded one’s attention.

The band’s trumpet and saxophone players were used effectively, giving the proceedings the requisite funky feeling. They successfully created a pre-holiday party feel.

They are a legendary band that put on a show that personified energy. If one entered the Capitol (or began watching on a laptop) as an uninitiated listener, that person left a converted fan after one hour.

Dumpstaphunk, with Ivan Neville, Ian Neville, Tony Hall, Nick Daniels III and Nikki Glaspie, took the stage a little later than the expected 10:30 p.m. start time, but the live stream filled the time by showing promos for future Capitol shows. The funk band’s opening number was a powerful addition to the setlist: “Gasman Chronicles,” a song that instantly caused shaking of the shoulders and tapping of the feet. The band, with Ivan Neville on the Hammond B3 organ, has a style where the music assaults the environment, with each member adding in equal parts to the undeniably infectious rhythms. They are all talented and were joined by a horn section that filled out the sound.

The highlights are numerous. Glaspie’s drumming is so expert it can often be dizzying to watch her play. She hits the drum set with such a force and precision that everyone else seems to fall right into step with her funky playing. The percussionist, according to news reports, used to be the steady drummer for the band but now focuses much of her energy on The Nth Power, a New Orleans jam band.

Tony Hall’s bass playing and vocals kept the party thump, thump, thumping all night long. Nick Daniels III, also on bass and vocals, offered a unique voice that blared with such power and angst that it can almost be considered another instrument on the stage. It hit high pitches and allowed the band to enter the upper registers with ferocity and much aplomb. Ian Neville solidified the sound with his guitar playing, allowing the frenetic energy to spill over into the crowd.

Ivan Neville, of course, is an important figure in the history of New Orleans music, and his expertise on stage is only matched with his generosity as a performer. Behind the organ, he was always having fun and offering excellence along with his band mates.

The middle portion of the concert included some funky great tunes, including the relatively new track, “I Know You Know.”

Cyril Neville also joined the band, helping the band represent several generations of the famous Neville family. His bluesy voice provided nice accompaniment to the band’s instrumental backing. They played a number of songs together, including “The World Is a Little Bit Under the Weather,” from the days of the Meters.

Perhaps the largest surprise of the night came when Dumpstaphunk played a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.” Hall’s voice slid from funk to rock with ease.

The fitting encore pulled from Dumpstaphunk’s latest album, “Dirty Word.” The selection, which is a highly danceable tune, was “Dancin’ to the Truth.”

The concert, even when watching from a laptop, was an enjoyable experience. In fact, it was so enjoyable that it coupled satisfaction and regret in this reporter’s mind. Next time, Fishbone and Dumpstaphunk come to town, they will be seen live, but it’s nice to know there’s an alternative.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications.

E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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