Kung Fu and Groovestick: Upstate Funk Doubleheader

kung-fu01-(1-of-1) Kim RicherNYS Music loves their funk so we wanted to make sure we sent our writers and photographers to both Kung Fu shows in Upstate, NY – Syracuse’s review features words and photos by Kim Richer and the Albany show is highlighted by writer Susan Rice and photographer Bryan Lasky. Keep reading for the details of both funktastic shows!

Kung Fu had their game face on Friday night, bringing lethal doses of high-powered funk-fusion to the newly remodeled Westcott Theater in Syracuse.  Tim Palmieri’s undeniable ability to shred on the guitar, coupled with Todd Stoops skill at traversing the keys of four keyboards simultaneously left the crowd dancing and smiling.  Opening with the title track off of their latest release, “Tsar Bomba” Kung Fu graced the audience with a nice sampling of their extensive musical library.  They entertained with some newer material and then resorted back to classic fan favorites “Gung Ho” and “Bopcorn”.  The real treat of their performance was a funky perfect rendition of the Jimi Hendrix single, “Cross Town Traffic”.  Closing the show with encores “Hollywood Kisses” and “Do the Right Thing” Kung Fu left the crowd fully satisfied with a need to replace their worn out dance shoes.
Opening the show, “The Chop Shop” and “Gridline” were very groovy and well fitted to prime the crowd.  They each gave a solid stage performance and their music was a perfect fit to prep the audience for Kung Fu, but the real elephant in the room Friday night was The Primate Fiasco.  They happened to be passing through Syracuse and stopped by to see Kung Fu.  They treated the crowd by playing acoustic ‘brasstronica’ street corner style sets, unplugged and in the middle of the dance floor; the way fans have come to expect it in festival campgrounds.  They played in between stage sets, bridging that gap when there is nothing to do except wait for the next act.  Before the show started, some fan sentiment outside the venue was less than enthused about The Westcott Theater’s new “No Re-Entry” policy.  That didn’t matter though, because once The Primate Fiasco started to play, nobody was leaving anyway.  The band was enveloped by a dance party and kept the energy at a high until the next band was ready on stage.  This worked so well that the crowd was begging Primate Fiasco to keep playing, even when Kung Fu was ready to begin.  A brilliant idea, I hope we see more of this at live shows!
Photos by Kim Richer

Saturday night at The Hollow was funktastic thanks to power groups Kung Fu and Albany’s own, Groovestick. The trio turned quintet performed a jazz funk fusion with raw energy and a unique sound. “Sharkbait” gave chilling harmonies and quaking bass line from Dan Gerken. Chris Carballeria is a key smashing jazz wizard, providing waves of organ soul. Guests got a special treat when Kung Fu guitarist Tim Palmieri joined in for chord climbing rockage. “Horde” one of their newest songs and a fast paced jazz jam with impeccable string stretching from Justin Hendricks, ended the set leaving the crowd fully charged up for Kung Fu.


The Capital District got round housed to the face with extreme funk served up by none other than the masters, Kung Fu. Front man, Rob Somerville blasted the venue with his explosive saxophone as Chris DeAngelis stood out with major plucking magnitude before the groove came back around in full band force. But the crowd went wild when Mister F mad man, Scott Hannay joined Todd Stoops went head to head over the keys to create the ultimate electric melody meltdown. The four song encore was the cherry on top, with the light-hearted funk of unstoppable buildups from the likes of “Loose” and a boogie get down of “Hollywood Kisses”. Kung Fu will return to the Upstate area on November 13 at The Waiting Room in Buffalo –  which can’t come soon enough.

Photos by Bryan Lasky

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