Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Get Bodies Moving With Blazing Funk In Portland (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Portland, Oregon music fans were treated to a lengthy session of dance therapy when Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KTDU) brought their infectious grooves to the Aladdin Theater on Friday, February 3rd as part of their Runnin’ With The Diesel tour.

Los Angeles-based band The Main Squeeze kicked the night off and made sure that those in attendance were satisfactorily warmed up. This 5-piece band, formed at Indiana University in 2010, delivers driving funk led by the muscular voice of lead singer Corey Frye. These boys can bring the heat, and wasted no time in pulling the audience into their groove. A hard rock edge cuts through their sound at times, and at one point brought to mind Rage Against The Machine. Overall, a highly capable group that’s ready to rip at a moment’s notice.

Which brings us to Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Wearing suit jackets with skinny black ties, KDTU took the stage and, after a pause to unload a forgotten container of percussion instruments, got down to business.

With DJ Williams on guitar, Alan Evans (Soulive) on drums, Chris Stillwell (Greyboy Allstars) on bass, David Veith (Crush Effects) on keyboards, Chris Littlefield on trumpet, and Seth Freeman on slide and lap steel guitar, the Tiny Universe has plenty of fuel for its funk fire. And of course there’s the Diesel himself. Whether he’s wielding a saxophone or a flute, Denson leads by example, putting down solid leads and raising the energy level as he solos. He’s also at home shaking the tambourine and dancing around as the other band members take their turn in the spotlight.

KDTU gets bodies moving. The Aladdin Theater was a sea of bobbing heads and shaking tails. Indeed, the band is not immune to its own grooves. Denson, Williams and Littlefield, lined up at the front of the stage, threw down some choreographed moves a few times, and, like the audience, seemed unable to stand still. The band was on point, loose and tight at the same time. Denson’s work ethic and undeniable musicianship have earned him a mountain of respect, as well as a role as saxophonist for the Rolling Stones. KDTU has toured consistently for years, and the band’s high-energy performances helps fans dance their worries away. It’s no wonder they sell out shows from coast to coast.

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