"Welcome to raw unbridled buffoonery for you and yours!" The Effinays announced to warm up the slow-to-start crowd Saturday,July 3rd at The Boiler Room. While it was a more relaxed affair than their set at The Granada earlier this month, they still brought their own blend of funky reggae jams to our ears in a big way. The lead guitarist really stepped up, using more effects during his solos and turning to the drummer to lock in with his groove, and they coaxed one another into playing bigger and better lines.
I could tell that the saxophone player was really digging on what the guitar players were doing: he kept closing his eyes and smiling, strumming an air guitar over his own brass axe. A few songs featured the rhythm guitar player on melodica, a nice flavor that always brings the reggae to taste. He had some great musical ideas but he seemed a little reserved, as if he didn't want to outshine the saxophonist.
Overall they played a really tight set, but I never heard them get cozy enough to take a large step praise of their comfort zone. There were times during the end of their set when they began to color outside of the lines, and what killed me was that their improvisations sound better and better every time I hear them. I spoke to the drummer after the show and he mentioned that the band played a more relaxed set because that was the vibe that they were getting from the crowd. I couldn't agree more, and I lament the fact that we (as an audience) didn't give as good as we got from The Effinays. This group could potentially be a Denton staple like headliners Sol Kitchen, but they need the kind of crowd that's not afraid to dance and rallies for wilder solos.
When Sol Kitchen took the stage, the difference between their crowd and The Effinays' audience was huge: by the second song the floor was flooded with the die-hard dance crowd that used to turn up every Wednesday night at Riprocks. One of the many wonderful things about Sol Kitchen is that it doesn't matter the exact combination of players; they always find a way to make it sound like they've been playing together forever. Even though everything is improvised, Sol Kitchen is a well-oiled machine no matter who the cogs are.
The solos last night were particularly spectacular. When guitarist Glenn Wallace began his first solo, everyone in the audience and onstage turned to look at him in amazement at his bold, in-your-face shredding. He really set the tone for the rest of the evening: every solo after his was a veritable mini-clinic for other aspiring improvisers. The conversation between drummer Garrett Gross and bassist Cooper Appelt was always over the top, giving the other members of the group a consistently funky backdrop that elicited more jaw-dropping solos from every other member. Saxophone player Ben Bohorquez was especially adept at picking up the musical thread and spinning an incredibly complex web of sounds that always dazzled the audience.
I have seen plenty of talented saxophonists, but I found myself wondering what it was about Ben's playing in particular that makes him stand out as extraordinary. I pondered for awhile before coming to the conclusion that it's not just his immense talent, because I've seen plenty of players who have the talent but don't always come across that way. The unique thing about Ben's solos is that he owns it every single time. He puts notes in places where you wouldn't think they'd go. But because of his confidence and panache, they fit perfectly. He's one of those players that play exactly what you want to hear before you know you want to hear it.
The second set was even rowdier, the band pulling out all the stops and playing whatever felt good. Two-time Grammy nominee Dave Richards began to take incredible risks with his trumpet, his repartee with the saxophone bright and sassy. The Stevie Wonder-esque effects on Gaa(h)n's keyboard added even more flair to his punch solos. Sol Kitchen's members have more style and skill than most bands could hope for in a lifetime, but they're not afraid to get a little bit silly without compromising their musicianship. They accompanied guitarist Matt Muehling on his rendition of 'Regulator' to wild applause, and then they played an rollicking version of 'Hava Nagila' in honor of their clarinet player Leighton Wiggins. Both guitar players even faced off for 'Shredfest '10' to many oohs and aahs from the crowd.
You could tell that they were all having fun up there, while still retaining their individual and collective talents as musicians. I think Gaa(h)n said it best when he closed the show with "Happy Birthday, here's your fireworks!" followed by a quiet, cheeky "You dirty motherfuckers".