Words by Alex Borsody and Kevin Anderson, Photos by Rob Chapman
The Royal Family ball celebrated the release of Soulive’s new album Rubber Soulive and featured an eclectic selection of musical legends playing alongside the Royal Family, including Talib Kweli, Warren Haynes and John Scofield. The show started around 6:30 with Nigel Hall playing a set to warm up the growing crowd. Terminal 5 was a former nightclub space and has the capacity of a small arena; the three levels of the building slowly began to fill up with eager fans.
Lettuce came on close to 8:30 to an almost packed house. The full arrangement included a five piece horn section, made up of the Shady Horns (Sam Kinninger and Ryan Zoidis), Rashawn Ross of Dave Matthews Band, Christian Scott and Big Sam. The anticipation in the room had it buzzing with Lettuce launching into the high energy tunes “Rage” and “Outta Here.” A few songs into the set, Brooklyn’s Talib Kweli was called on stage. Kweli spoke some lyrics from his classic Rawkus Records days mixing in some other random words as well; he then brought his good friend Nigel Hall on stage. The band went into Kweli’s most popular hit “I Get By” off his album Quality. Nigel provided killer backing vocals throughout the song’s anthemic chorus. Talib left the stage and Scofield came on shortly after. The band then went into the classic cover of “Move On Up,” a Curtis Mayfield original that has become a staple in Lettuce sets. The brand of funk Lettuce is spitting out right now is fresh, clean and super upbeat. Soulive and Lettuce are two of the few bands today that can cross over from funk and jazz into hip hop, this puts them in a league of their own in music right now.
After the setbreak, Soulive came out around 10:00. They talked a little about their new release Rubber Soulive and proceeded to play four tracks off of it. The album, made up entirely of Beatles covers if you hadn’t heard, has the potential to open up the world of funk and soul to new people. “Come Together” provided the first real chance for audience participation, which was an element that continued throughout the set. “Something In the Way She Moves” followed, with Krasno playing fluid, steady solos while finding the vocal melody of the song. What has become the set stealer since last year’s Bear Creek Festival is Soulive’s version of “Eleanor Rigby” into “She’s So Heavy,” with the hometown crowd in mind, this version really brought the heat. The audience sang along with all four songs and at some point Krasno asked Scofield to come back onstage. The first song they did together was a Krasno vs. Scofield shred off. Their interplay was particularly fun throughout the rest of the night. Then they brought back the full horn section, as well as a very special surprise guest of Warren Haynes, who proceeded to lead the musicians in a gritty, sensual version of “Born Under a Bad Sign.” Sensory overload indeed…Haynes, Krasno, Scofield, Evans brothers, Nigel Hall, Zoidis, Kinninger, & Ross all on one stage!
The after party was in Williamsburg, an area that is a powder keg right now for a musical revolution. Adam Deitch’s side project, Break Science, was playing at the Loving Cup, one of the many small and intriguing venues in Williamsburg. This was surely a night that will go down in rock and roll history for me.