On Saturday April 9, Brooklyn’s own Turkuaz closed out their three-night run to a sold out crowd at Brooklyn Bowl.
After the opening band, Sidewalk Chalk, began heating up the room to a simmer, Turkuaz brought the crowd to full on boil with their opening song “Lika” from their 2015 Digitonium release. Next up was “Chatte Lunatique” off of the Zerbert album, which had the crowd, brass section and backup vocalists bopping up and down in synch. Each band member sported their own signature, color-coded Members Only jacket on stage, reminiscent of a funky bag of Skittles that had somehow taken human form and hypnotized the Brooklyn Bowl. By the fourth song, and their first cover, Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” everyone from the back bar to the front of stage could taste the rainbow as the classic soul tune raged on.
The band took a minute to wipe the sweat from their faces before tackling “Lift It Up” into their most listened-to Spotify tune, “Bubba Slide,” off the Future 86 album. “Who were you two days ago/I’ll be damned if you should know,” are the opening lyrics to “Bubba” and on the third night of transformational Brooklyn run, the words took on a different meaning. There was a feeling in the room that something special was happening. We were witnessing a new brand of funk while simultaneously time-traveling to the golden age of the genre.
The 9-piece jammed on with a few more originals before capping off the first set with their second cover of the night, “I’ve Got a Feeling” by a band founded far away from Williamsburg, The Beatles. Just before the cover began, the audience started to thin out for a fresh beer or cigarette during what was sure to be the break of an already stellar set until they heard the opening riff to this Let it Be classic. People began sprinting back inside to be part of the action and as the cigarette flames were extinguished outside, a new fire started within. Since the last time Turkuaz ignited the Brooklyn Bowl flame in 2015, the band’s sound has evolved through hard work, relentless touring and attention to their craft. Ask any die-hard Turkuaz fan and they will tell you that the band gets better every time you see them in Brooklyn. Smiles covered the group’s faces as they proudly sang the symbolic lyrics “Everybody had a good year, everybody let their hair down, everybody pulled their socks up, everybody put their foot down.” Oh, yeah!
Set two’s energy picked off right where the first left off as Taylor Shell’s bass pumped out an extra groove-able intro to the Digitonium tune, “Doktor Jazz.” As if the band wasn’t hot enough on their own, they called upon James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band) and his saxophone wizardry to add some gasoline to the blaze. The band was just getting started as Casey exited the stage after a short lived, but memorable sit-in. The crowd appeared to have stretched their legs during set break as they put on an all-out dance clinic during the sexy “Desert Island,” “Coast to Coast,” “E.Y.E. (Lookin’ Good)” threesome of originals.
An extended version of “Tired of Talkin'” led the band to show the heavily-breathing crowd mercy after “Digital Love” to cool things down for a moment, well, slightly. As the second set was coming to a close each member was placed under the spotlight during “Gogo, Mr. Dodo,” but especially Shira Elias, who was dressed like a feminine synth pop version of the yellow Power Ranger. She definitely took lead on this second-set highlight as she shook the Brooklyn Bowl with her soulful pipes.
As Sunday morning was officially upon us, the band came out to cover one more song, The Talking Heads, “Take Me To The River.” Since the early days of Turkuaz, it has been no secret that the Heads have been one of the main influences from their tongue-in-cheek lyrics to their strange attire and genre melting sound. “Take Me To The River” may be one of the most covered and influential songs on the jam-band or funk circuit in the past 40 years and this group absolutely nailed their take on the Al Green penned piece. The climax came after the band collectively dropped the crowd into the funky waters of the venue.
Hours after the show ended the caption on the Turkuaz Facebook page reads, “This was truly one of the most special weekends we’ve experienced as a band.” After that power-funk spectacle, it is safe to say that the growing fan base had a pretty special weekend as well.