It was a hot night in Buffalo, the same night that Elton John was playing at Key Bank Center for his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. Parking was difficult since the Elton John show was a sellout, but neither the heat nor the traffic could deter people from showing strong for Funktional Flow‘s show at Iron Works. Even with a sold out event next door, the Buffalo-based group never fails to draw a crowd of eager attendees to one of their main home-base venues. As per usual, the Funktional Flow team was able to enlist the support of another great act; the Syracuse-based reggae group Root Shock. Anyone coming early was lucky enough to catch a preview of the light show for the night. The lighting at Iron Works was vamped up and prepped to go, with a spectacle of mixed colors and effects. It’s always a pleasure to catch a show here.
The crowd started flowing through a few minutes into Root Shock’s set. Root Shock came off as a weathered group, utilizing all the tools present in their 6-piece outfit. Guitarist Phil Grajko and Jessica Brown traded off on vocals, while the extended rhythm section showcased their ability to create intricate reggae grooves. Their set had great transitions, giving the audience some slower songs to rock to, and some faster ones to get down. From the balcony of the venue, it was cool to see a group of dancers doing tricks with hula hoops and getting the audience moving. The band also got the crowd dancing, and even played some songs that they’ll be recording this upcoming weekend- always a treat to hear unreleased material. As Root Shock finished, it was a good idea to venture closer to the stage to get a spot near the barrier. One could overhear chatter that there was a line out the door. 11 pm came around and the crowd cheered as Funktional Flow took the stage.
The lighting was a huge highlight for this set. A backdrop of colors and textures adds so much to the atmosphere of the show, and the effects lined up well with the music the band played. You can tell that these Iron Works shows are special by how in sync the band and the sound and light crew were. Funktional Flow’s set was rock solid; their mix of flavorful reggae and funk rock works to great effect live. They also had a couple of feature percussionists for this event: Ryan Nogle on drums and Griffin Brady on auxiliary percussion. This added a lot to the groove which was simultaneously being fortified by Ben Whelan’s melodic and percussive bass lines. Joey Lewis flashed his technical prowess with scathing guitar solos and carried some of the vocal duties along with singer Jefferey Kuebler. One of the coolest parts of these Funktional Flow sets is when Jefferey and Joey lock in on a guitar riff and get a classic rock type guitar duel going. Matthew Lester provided a heap of energy as he ripped solos on the saxophone and held down the keys to round out a huge live sound. The highlight of the night was hearing their original song “Trouble” with the night’s lineup. The album version from Time Will Tell is great, but the added meat from the auxiliary percussion, on top of Nogle’s huge drum sound and lightning fills, differentiated the tune and revealed a whole different dimension of the song. That’s what these live shows are all about! Definitely catch these two bands if they come through your town and be on the lookout for their music.