A Sunday afternoon show is an intriguing concept. Sundays are usually a pretty chill day for most people so the crowd might not be quite up to it’s normal standards. People may opt to stay home and relax instead of attending a matinee like the Dsoedean and Aotearoa show at the First Ward on February 24th. The other side of the coin is that The First Ward has its bloody mary bar on Sundays that is quite popular and there were a couple of pretty good bands playing.
The crowd turned out to be about 30-40 people and it was a very relaxed environment. A few kids even ran around and played pool while the bands set up their equipment under the watchful eye of the early afternoon sun. St. Joseph darlings, Dsoedean, led things off at about 2:15. The set had a weird, tense feeling to it as the crowd had work the next day in the back of their minds and the band looked at the natural light sneaking in from the windows. Dsoedean continued to move through their set doing favorites from their new record like the ironic “Daylight” given the circumstances of the show. They would also power through “Shuffle Your Feet” “Alphabet Soup” and the always fun “Continue To Move.” The most drastic change of pace during the show was with the new track “Remainder One” because it has a different feel than other Dsoedean songs. The set was well received by the relaxed crowd and not in your face but still intense enough to soak lead singer Zale Bledsoe’s shirt in sweat.
The next band to go on watched diligently from the bar and quickly set up their gear for what they were about to unfurl on St. Joseph. The duo of Ilan Gitter and Jake Lerman make up the band Aotearoa (A-O-TAY-UH-ROW-UH). Aotearoa rolled into St. Joseph in their van with a strange aura about them. They bill themselves as “jungle-funk” and after you hear them you will have no reason to dispute that. They are hot on the heels of their first full length album release Strange Weather and they are hitting the road hard supporting it, this is what led to the show having to be in the afternoon in the first place. The band is now based in Lawrence, Kansas by way of Chicago, where they grew up; but they have described themselves as “nomadic” because of their touring.
The two-piece blasts into their music with their long black wavy hair swinging in front of their eyes and immediately the music is recognized as funk. The extremely groove-driven music is heavy on steady drum beats and impressively enough, live guitar loops. It was a bit of a shame the crowd was so relaxed because it would have made for great dancing music for a Saturday night show. The band was having an amazing amount of fun throughout the set; when the band is on stage they are smiling from ear-to-ear. Halfway through the show the two member band actually switch instruments and the music didn’t even suffer from it. The funk level was actually dialed up after the initial switch. The first positioning of the band seemed to have more of a rock and soul feel than the second although they both brought the funk. The sound of the second incarnation of the band had the feel of Soul Coughing at times and at other times really resembled the Clash; not London Calling Clash, but rather the strange funk-punk record Combat Rock that contained the hit “Rock The Casbah.” The band would again switch (without even stopping the song that they were playing) and eventually find their way to a speed funk cover of the Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer.”
The afternoon was a bit tense and odd at times but still great fun. A few people couldn’t even keep their dancing shoes on the shelf but overall it was a very relaxed afternoon. Aotearoa is a solid band that is amazing fun and Dsoedean is always can’t miss local act. It would be great to see bands do a Sunday matinee every week I think. What better way to prepare for the work week? A more relaxed, acoustic band may be a better fit for these showcases though. Maybe “jungle funk” wasn’t the best fit for a Sunday afternoon but when could “jungle funk” ever be a bad thing?