The night was dirty, loud, revolutionary, beer-soaked and pleasantly dark. I’m not only describing the inside of indie Brooklyn’s sacred sanctuary, Shea Stadium, but also the band behind the interior madness, Evolfo. As the band entered the stage, their UFO style of music was introduced to the crowd with a thunderous instrumental intro highlighting everything from the keyboard and bass to the drums and horn section.
One of their newer installments, “Bloody, Bloody Knife,” had a familiar, almost White Stripes meets 60’s punk sound and included a guitar solo by Matt Gibbs. During the solo, his hair completely covered his face while he melted our faces. The crowd favorite, “Mechanicals,” created an infectious dance party with a late night lounge feel. The whirling keyboard effect used by Rafferty Swink sounded like something Dr. Dre may steal for his next album while Matt Gibbs’ creative lyrics were politely screamed in a Shakespearean manner. As soon as it feels like the song couldn’t get anymore genre blending, the bursting horns march their way into the room like an impromptu parade down Bourbon Street. Gibbs gave the crowd a minute to catch our breath as he highlighted how ecstatic the group was to play in such an iconic, underground sonic space.
After boogieing through “Love Like a Freak,” Evolfo kept the most recent songs coming with “Rat City.” Imagine David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” played with a faster tempo by a psychedelic garage band like The 13th Floor Elevators, but with just the perfect amount of brass to shackle it to the ground. Next up was “Let’s Carry On” which saw bass player Ronnie Lanzilotta stomping back and forth like an air guitarist on Red Bull. His energy was so intense he cosmically summoned one of the members from the opening act, Mobile Steam Unit, to jump on stage and rage with him equally as hard. The momentum spread like the Zika virus and before you knew the entire crowd was infected; one of the highlights of the hour long set.
Judging by the “Herbie and the Headhunters” t-shirt worn by their bearded saxophonist, Jared Yee, this gnarly crew were no strangers to the realm of funk. They have no shame in fronting as a “funk band” even though they consider themselves “garage-soul.” One of the best tunes that display their thrilling, chilling funk talent is “Wild Man” which Evolfo played with delightfully terrifying precision. I had a moment to speak about the visually freaky yet addicting music video for “Wild Man” with Gibbs before the set, inquiring about the first music video regarding any correlation to the imagery in the video compared to what he thinks about while on stage. He replied:
“Well some things in the video do quite literally have a place in our show. Some of the outfits and the demon mask and other small things have made their way onto the stage over the years. And then, of course, I hope that we portray some of that raw animal magnetism. I would love for real life to be as crazy as “Wild Man.” If we’re in the zone and we’re getting the energy from the audience I believe we can really live up to that fun with reckless abandon. As far as what’s on my mind while I play, I pretty much always wish I could pour some ambrosia on the audience and make them turn into animals. That would be ideal.”
After the “Wild Man” lit up the room with aerobic weirdness, they were ready to give us what we wanted, the title track to the newly announced EP, Last of the Acid Cowboys. The lyrics are coming from a place of pure spacey madness. Swink’s keyboard is projecting a surfin’ synthesizer sound while he sings in an eerily familiar Jim Morrison tone. If this song doesn’t wind up on the next Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, someone isn’t doing enough research.
Gibbs shed some details about the new EP and it was time for one more classic Evolfo tune for the brass-aholics in the crowd. Loaded with sexual innuendos, tantalizing bass lines and mod soul-funk, the climax during “You Light Me Up” is definitely the horn (or horny, sorry, I had to) section. Their time on stage was short and sweet, but the memory of that performance will last a long time, even for the fans in the booziest of states.
Musical evolution has been as much a staple of New York City as pizza, or more recently, Pokemon Go. Much like the global sensation of walking around with a smart phone and searching for rare creatures from a different dimension, a new species of music is evolving right before us. Label it whatever you want, but for those of us lucky enough to discover the rare Evolfo at Shea Stadium on a Wednesday night, we have a new band that is about to morph. After the release of their new EP, a tour is sure to follow and if they continue to put on shows with that sort of allure and creativity, I gotta catch em’ all.