NON-STOP DANCE PARTY: Guavatron & The Reality at The Funky Biscuit
What makes for an exceptional musical performance? Does it require an exceptional room? Exceptional crowd? Exceptional sound engineer? Those are certainly important but not mandatory. Exceptional musicians with exception vision and attitude? For sure.
We got every bit of all that Saturday, July 24, at The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, Florida, with (almost) hometown heroes Guavatron and their Tampa brethren The Reality. These were, for me, their absolute best performances EVER by these two bands, and that includes dozens of shows by both. It was a magnificent non-stop dance party!
This was our first visit to The Biscuit, and it certainly won’t be the last. The room was ideally designed, the food and beverages were great, house sound engineer Jeff Kissinger exceptional indeed, service great, and the vibe absolutely perfect. Also, the professional courtesy afforded by house photographer Jay Skolnick in hooking us up with Chris Schmitt (GRTWHT Photography) and Schmitt’s outstanding work are most appreciated.
The Reality began promptly at 8 p.m., and it was ON! We have a great relationship with both bands but had not told anyone we were coming from Tampa for the show. To say we got the surprise reaction we wanted would be an understatement.
The Reality used to be a riotously amusing funk band. They still are, but now they’ve added prog, jamtronica, and deep jams to their repertoire. They’ve become formidable groovesters on the jamband scene. They debuted new tune “Christina” to open, a worthy addition to their canon. Next up was killer prog with “Street Fighter,” which dipped briefly into “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” an opportunity for keyboard wizard Josh Kim to swirl his synths. They returned to a really badass jam before a “Hall” coda.
A recent addition to the band’s canon, “Wanna See You Dance,” is a reasonable summary of the group’s collective attitude, with Dan Jones (guitar, trombone) on vocals. They make fun happen. And it got more funner as they shifted into the theme song of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” The cartoon theme is already metal, and The Reality took it into deep prog/metal territory, featuring bassist Caleb Bone’s impressive pipes and heavy synths from Kim.
If the band has a signature song, it is “All My Time,” a brilliant composition and masterful message (“I would waste all my time with you, I would spend all my time with you”). This rendition went deeper than any I’ve heard before. Drummer BA Jones and Bone on bass lit this one on fire. Their other signature song would be “Sweet Tooth.” For this song, Roddy Hansen of Guavatron joined Kim on keyboards, and Adonis Guava grabbed his guitar. Everybody got a solo, including Dan Jones on trombone. Bone’s backing vocals are always magnificent on this song.
They kicked the Guavatron boys off the stage for finale number “Where’s Lucy.” They spun this into a ridiculously funky dance tune, jammed all the way out. Best set ever, so I declare!
[THE REALITY: Christina, Street Fighter > In the Hall of the Mountain King, Wanna See You Dance > Power Rangers, All My Time, Sweet Tooth, Where is Lucy]
After a short break, Guavatron marched on stage, and immediately the dance party was back in full swing. They shot out of the gate with a massive 32-minute “Ray Gun” with “Gang’s All Here” stuffed inside. It took all of nine minutes for them to get to that magical trance-dance groove, all directed by Casey Luden at kit. Everybody was on fire, and the jam just continued to build. Adonis had several blistering guitar runs interspersed with his trance explorations. Hansen was evoking all sorts of great effects from his phalanx of keyboards.
“Cousin Kelly” reached into metal funk territory, and Conor Crookham’s really heavy space bass set the tone, with a fine solo and ridiculous bass lines. The four were in complete lockstep at this point. What unfolded next was a 40-minute romp through “Grit,” a truly Frankenstein-ian composition with so many moving parts. There was powerful funk prog, a bluesy, spacey jam, Hansen soaring on electric piano, and Crookham crushing more space bass and another solo, Adonis with eyes closed shredding, and spacey synths leading finally to some disco funk.
A compact “Xilla” kept the prog funk disco party rolling, and, speaking of disco, it was time to strap on them “Disco Shades.” For this delicious song, they invited Caleb Bone up to trade vocals with Adonis and Dan Jones up to play guitar along with Adonis. Hansen hit that trance mode quickly, with the dance floor slammed. Some of us came prepared.
At this point, Guavatron seemed interested in playing one more song, but the crowd — just for the moment — adopted that “we expect an encore” attitude and were largely silent. Ladies and gentlemen, you have to DESERVE an encore by DEMANDING one! Make some MFing noise! Fortunately, Adonis whipped up the crowd, and they got back on stage.
And now for your Funky Biscuit fashion update. To this point, Adonis and Conor both had their hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. But then a local rabble-rouser who may or may not have been Frankie Sensamillia paraded in front of the stage with a huge cardboard sign that said:
What’s a band to do? Hansen’s hair is always long and straight, and Luden’s shorter hair is always just, you know, there. But what of the other two? Adonis and Crookham got the sartorial message and let their freak flags fly, so to speak, as they jammed at totally sick 20-minute “Turtle Dreams.” Hansen was off the chain. Hell, they all were!
BEST. NON-STOP. DANCE. PARTY. EVER.
[GUAVATRON: Ray Gun > Gang’s All Here > Ray Gun, Cousin Kelly, Grit, Xilla, Disco Shades; E: Turtle Dreams]