FIKus, Kung Fu and Dopapod @ Highline Ballroom – February 21
Words and Photos: Andrew Blackstein
As winter winds down in New York City, the concert season is beginning to heat up. On February 21st the Highline Ballroom was host to three Tri-state area bands whose talents and popularity are on the rise: New Jersey’s FIKus, Connecticut’s Kung Fu and Brooklyn’s Dopapod.
[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]
The first band to take the stage was FIKus. Usually an 8:00pm start time means an empty hall for a band to play. This was not the case on this Thursday evening. As bassist/vocalist Travis Paparoski made his way to the microphone he thanked the crowd for making their way into the show. Backed by Kito Bovenschulte and Pete Kozak on drums and percussion, the rhythm section of FIKus wasted no time laying down thick, electronic-infused funk beats. Keyboardist Jon Schmarak added layers of synths and vibrant melodies to the ever-changing groove. Inspired by the wave of sound created, Steve Malone’s Gold PRS guitar shined as waves and peaks bled out of the speakers. FIKus laid down a fantastic set of live music.
Kung Fu was next on the menu and boy did they deliver. Kung Fu is Tim Palmieri (guitar), Robert Somerville (tenor sax), Todd Stoops (keyboards), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion). This five-piece funk band played an extended set that showed off Tim Palmieri’s brilliance on the guitar. Tim’s capabilities on his Sunburst Fender Strat were nothing short of jaw dropping. Solos and rhythm only work if they are met with tightness and energy from the other band members. This was not an issue for Kung Fu as Adrian and Chris moved deep into the pocket from the start. I can say with confidence that I have not seen a funk band with such flawless execution since the days of Deep Banana Blackout filling the Wetlands. The Highline was filled to brim during Kung Fu’s set as the capacity crowd was dancing the night away. One can only imagine that these cats are only going to get bigger and gain more steam.
Headlining the bill was Dopapod. A pre/planned PA intro is a good sign of a special performance. Just after 11PM, Dopapod’s lights dimmed as the above mentioned intro began. The five-minute prelude felt like a prizefighters walk to the ring; not flashy but rather focused. To categorize this band in a genre would be quite difficult so let’s just leave it by saying they are exciting. They offer so many different sounds and scopes that the only way to remedy my lack of descriptive vocabulary would be to check them out your self. Whether its Eli Winderman’s lyrical content/range or Rob Compa’s blistering guitar work, Dopapod’s live show is something to behold in person.
When Dopapod returned for the encore, they brought out the members of Kung Fu to collaborate on a cover of Pink Floyd’s Money that put an exclamation point on a long night filled with musical and creative highs. The exquisite musicianship displayed at the Highline Ballroom was easy to see. Hell, even the $95 parking ticket I got couldn’t ruin this wonderful evening.
FIKus – Jim Jones > Cool Refrigerator, Something Stanky, Nightwalker, Michael Phelps, Big Booty Bounce
Kung Fu – The Hammer, Steppin’ In It, Chakrabarty Overdrive, Bopcorn, God Made Me Funky, Barometric Weather, Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On, Do The Right Thing, S’All Good, Gung Ho, Hollywood Kisses, Bringin’ Up The Rear
Dopapod – Psycho Nature, Off The Cuff, Onionhead, Ellemenno *, Priorities @, Nuggy Jawson, Weird Charlie (Part 2) > Trapper Keeper, Bats In The Cave @, Braindead, We Are Not Alone > Weird Charlie (Part 1)
Encore: Money ^# > Got To Get Your Own ^%
* for Kristen DeTroia.
@ contained “Bopcorn” (Kung Fu) tease.
^ with Kung Fu.
# Pink Floyd cover; first time played.
% Reuben Wilson and the Cost Of Living cover; first time played
- SBD Matrix Recording: Dopapod @ Highline Ballroom