Dope Pop: A BIG YES…and a small no

Kendrick seemed genuinely appreciative to be playing with his old Fat Mama bandmates, some of which still play regularly in this new, more pop-sensible outfit. Joining him for an evening of well-written, accessible songs and what I can only describe as Lou Reed-inspired verse was Brett Joseph on tenor sax and Jon Gray on trumpet, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Erik Deutsch on electric piano, Jonti Siman on bass, and Sir Joe Russo on drums.

(As a brief aside, I’ve now seen Russo in maybe six different bands, and I’m convinced he can make even my least favorite music enjoyable. He sat next to the glass wall separating him from passers-by on Avenue B, and I wonder how many people knew they were walking by one of the best drummers on the planet). 

Kendrick’s material takes you completely by surprise: There’s no real normalcy nor comfort zones anywhere in the music or the lyrics. That’s why I laugh at the self-proclaimed and critically-acclaimed “pop” label. Kendrick takes chances in both aspects, and the end result is an odd, almost foreign, beauty that manifests itself in narrative songs like Manic When I’m Around You, This Doesn’t Feel Like Goodbye and What a Fucking Mess (This Turned Out To Be).

Hopefully your computer shows this video a bit lighter than it comes out on my work one, but here’s a little clip of This Doesn’t Feel Like Goodbye that I’ve watched about 10 times and can’t stop singing. Two more follow below…


I’ve been a huge fan of Milt Jackson for a long time, so I’m already on recoil and ready to spring up when the vibes-fronted Big Yes hits town. But there’s something special about instrumental experimentation and seeing new musical combinations, and if you’ve never seen a pop band fronted by a vibraphonist, you’ll never get another chance like this one. This is the goods.

There’s a reason Kendrick tags the band with his “I mean, it’s pop music…but it’s dope” label. Because it is. And if these guys ever come across your computer or your iPod or your hometown rock club, make some time to take in this great band.

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0 Responses

  1. Ditto that, I was all set to make it in for this one Sat night and then bailed in one of those chronic bouts of oldmanitis. Next time, next time…

  2. You nailed it on this one again, Acer. After seeing them 4-5 times, it’s pretty impressive how their shows keep improving & I thought this was the best yet. Having all of Fat Mama together again on stage (or the floor, if you know the Lakeside) certainly helped, and the vibe in the room was thick from the get go. The only nod to their past song book came in a perfectly engineered “Kool & The Gang*>Fat Mama#>Kool & The Gang*” sandwich, which was when the wide-eyed glances started making their way around the room. 5 stars for the show and the review, 3.5 stars for the vids – nobody’s perfect. 🙂

    * A BIG YES and a small no tune
    # Herbie Hancock tune, first time by the members of Mama since ’01 ish

  3. Do these guys have an album I can get or a full show I can download? I’ve listened to their tracks online before and it’s some hype stuff, but I just craving more. And I can’t exactly make random NYC gigs from the South.

  4. I really dug these guys on Saturday. Their mix of punk/ska/jazz scratched me right where I itch. Too bad they don’t play more together.

  5. Sorry, Frank, I don’t have anything for you…if you email me at the “Contact Us” tab above, I can try to dig something up and send it to you when I find something.

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