Never, EVER, EVER Miss a Sunday Kung Fu Show!
I’ve never gone five rounds in a mixed martial arts bout, but I have a pretty good idea what it feels like after Sunday night’s two-hour Kung Fu extravaganza at Dunedin Brewery (September 8). And I’m positive you’ll get the exact same reaction from every person who crammed, squeezed, weaseled, and otherwise shimmied into the packed house that night.
In simple math terms,
 Never miss a Kung Fu show
+  Never miss a Sunday show
=  Never, EVER, EVER miss a Sunday Kung Fu show!
Here’s how amazing it was: I didn’t take any notes, and most people didn’t take any photos or video (luckily, a few did). IT WAS THAT STUNNING. Again.
Kung Fu describe themselves as “Funk/Rock/Fusion.” Also extreme funk. But there is also an extreme focus on prog rock with that glorious fusion bent that sends this stuff screaming into your earholes. At what they do, there is simply nobody better than the five gentlemen who call themselves Kung Fu. On top of all that, a “new” element also worked its way into the set (teaser alert).
There is so much going on up on stage (up in the case of DunBrew is about six inches, but still) that it’s impossible to know whom to watch; you need a five-way split screen. Ultimately, however, the success of the band is due to their union as a pile-driving rock and funk machine.
The band hit the stage just after 9, setting us up like bowling pins with “Prime Time Rib,” “Bobcorn,” and “Caught Up in a Mess.” Rob Somerville was center stage, tenor sax in hand, giving the fusion that extra dimension and handling lots of the vocals, and the group’s harmonies (everybody sings except drummer Adrian Tramontano) were superb. Tim Palmieri looks like a rock star when he plays guitar, but he backs that up double with every note he plays, one of the greatest underrated players on the planet. On top of all that — and this is true for all of them — when Palmieri flashes that ear-to-ear grin and says, “WE LOVE DUNEDIN!” he means every word.
About those bowling pins. Those first three tunes are top-drawer funk, but then Kung Fu sent us reeling with a locomotive “Chop Suey” and a killer “Baba O’Riley,” one of the songs in the band’s The Who tribute set that they played at The Funky Biscuit the two previous nights. Chris DeAngelis sang lead, and where you were expecting that violin, Somerville’s tenor sax was perfection. That was followed by another monster tune, “Chin Music.” No 7-10 split here — just strike after strike after strike.
When you’re talking about prog and funk and fusion, it IS all about that bass… and drums, and Kung Fu has a rhythm section simply as good as it gets. Chris DeAngelis is an amazing bass player. Yes, his solos were good, but it’s what he’s doing on every song underneath the sax, guitar and keyboards that is the real mark of the man. And his partner in crime is Adrian Tramontano. I know I’m not the only one who couldn’t stop watching him ALL NIGHT. He is astounding. He and DeAngelis crushed those three killer tunes and the entire set.
The “newest” member of the band is keyboard wizard Beau Sasser, who joined in 2015. His playing on organ, electric piano, clavinet and synths washed over the proceedings, and he had several fine solos as well. Things got real with a long intro to their sing-along anthem “Hollywood Kisses,” a long take on this one.
And then things just blew wide open. Stupid, ridiculous, sick… pick your musical adjective, or all of them. Palmieri said, “Alright, we’ve got two more songs left. We call this the one-two punch here.” He wasn’t wrong. They began with a Thundercat song they love to cover called “Oh Sheit It’s X,” funk so deep you can’t get over it, around it, OR under it. DeAngleis handled lead vocals again. And Sasser was twirling the synth knobs as Palmieri hit the trance-dance chords, veering directly into jamtronica. Glorious!!! That segued into a monster “Samurai” with more prog, jamtronica, and deep bass and drums. And all the while the boys are laughing and grinning.
Incredible! How could they possibly come back for an encore? Well, if it’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” OK! Everybody in the place was singing!
Kung Fu put us through the musical wringer. And we’ll gladly line up to do it again, next time!
Outstanding sound once again from house engineer Chris Fama. And we are forever indebted to Mike Graff for videoing the entire two hours+ and to Alexis Rae for the photographs.
Posted by Mike Graff on Sunday, September 8, 2019
Next show is next Saturday at the Rhode Island Music & Arts Festival. Read about the upcoming tour here.
[KUNG FU: Prime Time Rib, Bobcorn, Caught Up in a Mess, Chop Suey, Baba O’Riley, Chin Music, Scorpion, Bringing Up the Rear, Hollywood Kisses, Oh Sheit It’s X, Samurai; E: Won’t Get Fooled Again]