George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Galactic, Fishbone & Dumpstaphunk Party Down At SummerStage in Central Park

On Tuesday, June 4th the One Nation Under A Groove Farewell Tour rolled into the heart of New York City to decamp at SummerStage in Central Park. The weather could not have been better as the sun slowly set and the party revved up with positive vibes all around the sold-out grounds. Funk, more than any other genre, needs to be experienced live, and this lineup is must-see for any fans (or those remotely interested) in funk’s true power.

Kicking things off even earlier than the 6 pm advertised start time was the New Orleans dirty water grooves of Dumpstaphunk. The short but sweet set saw the band kick out “Dancin To The Truth” as Ivan Neville’s keys were loud and in charge before a ripping guitar solo from Tony Hall during “Let’s Get At It”. Huge bass popping emanated from Nick Daniels III as he simultaneously sang gorgeous pleading lead on “I’m Gonna Make It” before the band’s brief appearance ended with “Justice”.    

After the shortest set break in union stagehand history, Fishbone bombarded the audience with “Party At Ground Zero”. The freewheeling ska jam started their dynamite twenty-five minute excursion as Norwood Fisher’s bass boomed for highlights “Alcoholic” (which included an “Inna Gadda Da Vida” tease) and the wide-ranging horn-drenched metal of “Behavior Control Technician”. The group was in prime form as Angelo Moore declared “Fuck Trump” with the shooting punk “Subliminal Fascism” culminating in the closing arena-rock riffing “Sunless Saturday” which unfortunately singled an all too quick ending.

Galactic had more of a standard opening set slot using forty-five minutes to display their New Orleans based style of electro-polished funk. The Stanton Moore led outfit moved effortlessly from twisting sonic instrumentals complete with pedals a distortion to more soulful backing of guest vocalist Erica Falls. Falls sultry singing augmented “Higher and Higher” and the grooving “Touch Get Cut” whose focal point was a warbling keys/guitar interlocking. “You Don’t Know” closed the performance (blown out beautifully by Ben Ellman’s baritone saxophone) but it was the Bernie Worrell like keyboard bombs from Rich Vogel on “Heart of Steel” which paid tribute to the headliner to come.   

The musical core of George Clinton’s current Parliament-Funkadelic band came out to little fanfare and dropped slowly into a heavy bass riff with elastic keyboard support and screeching metallic guitar solos being fired off as smoke (of all kinds) gradually covered the stage. Then the legend himself lead a parade of colorful dreads, fedoras, baseball caps, leather, lace, high heeled boots and thong wearing peeps of all shades and sexes dancing out into the spotlight. The introduction was extended and exciting as the band morphed the groove/riffs right into “Get Off Your Ass And Jam” from 1975’s Let’s Take It To The Stage which itself slipped directly into the raging “Super Stupid” from career highpoint 1971’s Maggot Brain.  

This was not to be a fully retro show though, as many tracks from recent releases got air time such as the ass shaking chaos of “Get Low”, the pumping “Pole Power” and (best of the newbies) the freak metal meltdown of “Dirty Queen” complete with synths solo; all three are from 2014’s First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate. The crowded stage made it impossible to keep track of who was playing or singing most of the time, but there was a clear mixing of generations, on stage and in the audience as well.  

That diverse crowd were there to party, dancing throughout, but it was old warhorses like “We Want The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)”, the set-closing “Atomic Dog”, “One Nation Under A Groove” and especially the drawn out “Flashlight (which was augmented by gorgeous horn breakdowns from trumpet, trombone and sax) which truly amped the energy levels. Things weren’t all perfect, the party on stage had various sound leveling issues with microphones and gear, and someone left a cellphone plugged in which somehow range mid-song, but these are small blips in the larger overall success of Clintons farewell tour stop on this night

The opening acts all directly display the deep, vast influence of the P-Funk world and they, along with Clinton’s current menagerie of performers themselves, are immediate proof that the cosmic funk is in strong hands as the 77-year-old Dr. Funkenstein pilots the Mothership towards the next phase of his life; ain’t nothin’ but a party y’all.         

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