Feel Free at Fontana’s on July 31

“They’re a poor man’s Galactic”, the banker in the dark charcoal suit standing next to me tells me. Though I have no idea what Galactic is, or what a suit is doing watching a self-proclaimed funky-reggae-rock-soul band playing at Fontana‘s (I later learn that it’s an obscure jam-band, and they’re friends of the band from University of Miami), I nod my head in agreement anyway. The suit is soon joined by more men wearing brown herringbone skinny ties and I arrive at the conclusion that it’s corporate night at the music bar.

As hard as it is to take these men in floral shirts with highjacked Jamaican accents from Washington seriously, it gets harder to maintain my level of cynicism a few minutes into their set. The crowd begis to sway with abandon to the jazz harmonies in “What A Time”, and not even the staff is immune to the hard hitting horn lines of “The Motions”. Feel Free even spews a lyric or two about having a thing for a girl with sleeve tattoos in “Popcorn and Alcohol”, a song built around a chord progression reminiscent of Young the Giant’s “West Virginia”, granting them major star power from the crowd.

Feel Free is by no means a band that’s going to ritually treat their hair the way it’s described in Chapter Six of the Book of Numbers, but there is no doubt that they will create genre-bending music that brings all sorts of people together. By the end of the night, everyone left Chinatown feeling free, thoroughly impressed by the band’s musicianship.

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