Lettuce is one of those bands that just have some kind of inexplicable X factor. Whether it’s their tight rhythm section, funky melodies, or combined personalities, there’s just something that sets them apart from everyone else.
As I waited in line at The Tralf for the doors to open, I realized that you’d never be able to guess who was in town judging solely by the people waiting. There was such an eclectic mix and every single one of them was visibly excited and anxious to get inside. There was a collective buzz in the air as the three-month build up from the time the concert was announced was finally over.
The night started slow as doors opened at 7 and people began to fill in the Tralf. It would be three long hours before the Lettuce show would start, but everyone was more than willing to wait. DJ Kraz kicked things off, blending old school funk, hip-hop, and jazz into a danceable mix to get the crowd ready for what was to come. The anticipation grew at the same rate the crowd did. Before long, the floor was filling up as Kraz was finishing up. The thirty minutes of anticipation in-between sets was only amplified by the fact that Lettuce had never played Buffalo. As our seven fearless funk leaders stepped onstage, the crowd lost it. The Tralf was as packed as I’ve ever seen and Buffalo came to rage.
After a brief intro, the opening riff to “Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine” began playing and the band dove into their set. Buffalo’s own Neil Evans and the horn section of Ryan Zoidis and Eric Bloom were dialed in right from the start. The three controlled the first song, dictating exactly when the beat would drop and forcing the change in tempo. The crowd’s energy really pushed the band early on, causing trumpeter Eric Bloom to break out some dance moves and drummer Adam Deitch to smile from ear to ear through the first few songs. As the set progressed, the band touched on classics “Fly” and “Outta Here” before testing a new track out titled, “Phyllis.” The recent creation had an emotional groove to it and the crowd not only felt it, but gave the love right back. There’s just something about the way this band constructs their songs that just hits you. Whatever it is that they do was resonating with everyone Friday night.
In the middle of the set, bassist Jesus Coomes took the lead laying down his fat bass line on top of a rich texture of beats that drummer Adam Deitch provided. Jesus even teased “Rapper’s Delight” as the hype reached its peak. To the crowd’s surprise, the band brought out singer Alecia Chakour who was expected to keep up. Her vocals lit the place up as her powerful bluesy voice was the perfect complement to Lettuce’s funk train. Alecia sang three songs with the guys, including the favorite “Do It Like You Do.”
As the singer thanked the crowd for the love and stepped off stage, the band dove into another favorite in “Ziggowatt.” The potent riff that runs through the song was highlighted by Eric Krasno with one of the best solos of the night. As the band met up on beat, Krasno attacked the rhythm of the song and caused a swelling tension that only added fuel to the fire. It might have been February, but the concert could’ve been held outside with how much heat Lettuce was packing.
The band closed out the night with a three song encore, ending on “Madison Square.” In my years of attending concerts, I have never felt the same collective high I felt that night. It was said before, but there’s something these guys have and do with their instruments that few else can even replicate. Their music can stand up on its on, but they take it to the next level when they rage it live. The entire night went by in one fast-paced, funky minute and I can only hope it feels that long until they return.
Setlist: Intro, Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine, Salute, The Last Suppit, Fly, Outta Here>Let It GOGO, Phyllis, Afraid to Try*, Do It Like You Do*, The Sun*, Ziggowatt, Bowler, Ghost of Jupiter, Lettsanity, Slippin’ Into Darkness
Encore: Do Your Thing, Love You Left Behind, Madison Square
* with Alecia Chakour