Greyboy Allstars: Roseland Theater, Portland, OR 3/28/08

The Greyboy Allstars tend to exist where the musical culmination of funk, soul, jazz, groove and rock converge. This eclectic musical mish-mosh is in the midst of a national tour that brought them through Portland Oregon’s Roseland Theater on Friday March 28th.  As always they were greeted with much of the famed Pacific Northwest hospitality, and as the night progressed it once again became clear that we love the Allstars here in Oregon.

The lyricist Busdriver opened the night to a relatively empty room, and the set lacked the energy needed to bring the folks waiting in the wings out to dance. When the Allstars came out the first set started off a little slow, but they picked up the energy as the meandering crowd filled in. The set was tight, and it featured a rousing version of the underground internet sensation Still Waiting. The live version was great, but it is hard these days to listen to the song, without imagining the innovative video.

If you haven’t seen this video, do yourself a favor and check it out on the Greyboy Allstars website. It is basically a “muppeted” version of the Allstars, doing what they do best, i.e. throwing a raging dance party. The Muppet puppets are spot on, even focusing on the smallest of details, including Karl’s facial hair, Elgin’s glasses, and Robert’s ever present sport coat. Jim Henson would have been proud. I think I can even see myself dancing in the background of the crowd. Check out Your Mind, was another standout to this set, and the audience seemed to boil up to a frenzy as the band continued to inspire our dancing feet till the last note.

The second set seemed a little more passionate, as both the band and the crowd settled into the night.  A mid set instrumental version of the Beatles’ Taxman reminded us of the yearly headache of the tax season, and it also reminded a few of us of exactly how big of slackers we were. They also did a strong version of Boogaloo Boogie that declared just how funky soul food can be. Is there anything better than a sing-along revolving around pig intestine?
I for one am quite happy to see that the 21st century version of the Greyboy Allstars is raring to go. After the multi year long mid 90’s hiatus, they are a welcome addition to the touring circuit. This is a band whose talent matches their passion, and each show seems to bring these long time collaborators that much deeper into the musical pocket.  

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