Last night at The Gramercy Theatre, dubbed the "Holla'ween Masquerade," was most definitely one for the books. Featuring Vermont's livetronica act Kloptoscope and jam sensations Twiddle, and Connecticut's masters of funk Kung Fu, it was of course anticipated that this Halloween would get wild, weird, and wonderful as some of New York City's masked crusaders came together for a night of quality music and good times. Suffice to stay, that is the understatement of the century.
Kloptoscope warmed things up nicely as expected. Bringing a soulful, jazzy edge to a decidedly electronic sound, this Vermont quartet was a groovy way to start the evening. Special recognition goes out to keys player Zack Drummond who jumped on his saxophone part of the way through the set and absolutely killed it. Kloptoscope got in the out-of-the-box Halloween spirit with a special cover of the Disco Biscuits' "Cyclone" to kick up the energy in the room up nice and early. After a short but very sweet set, Twiddle took the stage for an hour and fifteen minutes of pure bliss. Joined by saxophonist and jazz phenom Kenny Brooks on a massive "Doinkenbonk" for after only one song, Brooks stayed on for almost the duration of Twiddle's time on stage and filled out the sound in a way that would almost warrant him being in the band full time. That is not to take away from the usual lineup, though, who maintained a high energy and truly beautiful sound while simultaneously bringing the rage that the crowd came to see. Also jumping into the Halloween spirit with a handful of covers, Twiddle filled in the jam of "Hatti's Jam>When It Rains It Pours" with the always uplifting "Somwhere Over the Rainbow" and pulled off Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" in it's entirety in the middle of set closer "The Box." If you like organic, feel good tunes with masterful musicianship and powerful jams, Twiddle is for you. I honestly think you'd be hardpressed to find someone who wouldn't enjoy Twiddle. These guys are absolutely the next big thing and, deservedly, already getting there.
But my oh my, headliners Kung Fu came to destroy lives and were all too successful. Donning only their usual kung fu outfits, it was clear from the getgo this band meant business. Their self-proclaimed brand of "lethal funk" could not be any more of an accurate description as they tore through almost two hours of utter chaos. Do not get it confused, though--this chaos was completely organized and orchestrated to blow minds and leave faces all over the floor of the Gramercy. Watching Kung Fu perform is like going to school. Funk meets death metal (yea, that happened last night for just a few minutes and got fantastically evil) meets wacky Zappa-style classic rock, any of which could happen on the drop of a dime, and included a cover medley with teases of Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun," Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," and the end verse of The Beatles' "Come Together" for what was quite possibly the segment of the evening. The encore saw a rival segment, though, with a superjam between Kung Fu and Twiddle that had the crowd chanting along and they tore the roof down one last time. Not to mention, for each of their respective instruments, you'd be hardpressed to find anyone better; the best you're going to find is comparable, and even then, good luck finding those guys. Keys player Todd Stoops is an absolutely wizard and conjures up sounds that don't even seem possible while maintaining one of the best smiles around. Sax player Rob Somerville has the lung capacity of a small whale and the soul of a man who grew up in Muscle Shoals in the 1950's. Bass player Chris DeAngelis and drummer Adrian Tramontano are a rhythmic force to be reckoned with, as DeAngelis' nimble fingers move at a dazzling pace considering the smoothness of his sound and Tramontano's brutal attack on the kit is never-ending. Last but not least, guitarist Tim Palmieri is a force to be reckoned with, conjuring up images of guitars heroes of old with a massive stage presence straight out of the school of Hendrix. Palmieri is a guitar hero for the modern era and a legend in the making. Really, though, having all come from well-established acts already in the history books, this band is full of young legends in the making. It is no wonder they have gotten as explosive as they have in the few short years since coming together to create the musical wonder known as Kung Fu. To be honest, I'm not even totally sure what I witnessed last night, which is just the way Kung Fu likes it. All I can ask is, "when can we do that all over again?"
This writer is going to need the weekend to recover from last night, and probably all of next week, too. Be sure to catch Twiddle continuing on a tour of their own and please, for your own sake, catch Kung Fu when they come to a city near you. We hope your Halloween was just as epic as ours!