Trouble Funk: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

By Mark Jenkins

After D.C. go-go bands such as Trouble Funk failed to achieve the national success widely predicted for them, some observers concluded that the problem was the audience: Go-go just couldn't work without a packed house of shouting, grooving local fans. But the reunited Trouble Funk did just fine Saturday night at the 9:30 club, playing a dynamic after-midnight set of greatest (local) hits for barely 200 listeners.

The lack of an overflow audience wasn't the only thing that distinguished this 30th anniversary show from the ones Trouble Funk played during its 1980s peak. The musicians were visibly older, and some admitted to getting winded before the end of the concert, which ran only 75 minutes rather than hours. And founding member Robert "Dyke" Reed, who died last year (link), was present only in a photograph projected over the stage.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Despite that loss, the stage was full. As many as 15 musicians performed, led by bassist-vocalist "Big Tony" Fisher. Other players came and went in a set that included contributions from original drummer Emmett "EJ Roxx" Nixon.

The constants were the Latin-accented syncopation, produced by as many as four percussionists, and the vocals, which were sometimes rapped and occasionally sung but mostly chanted.

Trouble Funk's best songs consist of an irresistible beat and an unforgettable phrase: "Pump Me Up," "Hey Fellas," "Drop the Bomb." The fans did their best to participate, adding "heys" or "whoas" wherever directed. The audience may not have had the numbers, but it could hardly help but have the funk.

By David Malitz |  July 27, 2009; 11:31 AM ET Live Last Night
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