Electric Kif, Dionysus at Heartwood Soundstage in Gainesville, Florida

Electric Kif from South Florida began their ten-date rethink Tour July 12, with Gainesville funk fusion band Dionysus in tow for the four Florida shows. They visited Heartwood Soundstage on Thursday, July 14, coinciding with the weekly farmers’ market, local restaurant, and more.

Electric Kif – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

We traveled to Gainesville as the guests of MusicFestNews writer and photographer Rick Davidson and his wife, Judie. For this concert, Rick shot, and I wrote. He was excited to shoot but not have to write! I was excited finally to check out Heartwood Soundstage, so let’s address that issue first.

The room indoors is tiny and intimate, originally a recording studio. I would estimate that 60 to 70 patrons would be about the room’s limit. There is an outdoor stage as well (The Shambles played during the farmers’ market), and they pump the audio from inside the room to the outdoor stage as well.

No matter how great a room is sonically, it can only be as good as the sound engineer. The man in charge for this show, like many of his ilk, believes that the floor, the seats, and your chest should vibrate with every bass guitar note and every bass drum kick. I do not ascribe to this theory. It hampered the sound for Dionysus and nearly overpowered the guitar and some of the keyboards for Electric Kif. 

I do not ascribe to this theory — in the physical sense.

LOUDER ISN’T BETTER, ONLY LOUDER. And it does a disservice to the musicians and the fans who come to hear them. It’s nice going to a show where you depend upon your earplugs to rescue the music. Rant over (until the next one).

 

Dionysus – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

Dionysus played an enthusiastic set before a hometown crowd of fans, which made for great fun. They dug into the funk early, guided by the powerhouse drumming of Ivan Padilla, backed by solid bass from Tati Saya. They slowed the pace down for the second tune. 

Dionysus – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

Much of the set swirled around David Wells on keyboards and synthesizer, who made use of his full array. As often occurs, especially when two bands travel together like this, they share equipment. Many of the keyboards were Jason Matthews’ fro Electric Kif, and there was a Fender Rhodes from the studio. Tenor saxophone player Jose Piñeiro also contributed to the sound with nice technique. For their last tune, Dionysus asked guitarist Eric Escanes from Electric Kif to join them, and the results were dynamic!

 

In fact, despite the sound issues, this was perhaps the best show I’ve heard from Escanes, who was simply on fire all during the Electric Kif set. He makes extensive and excellent use of his whammy bar. Kif rollicked through fusion, funk, and some deep, deep prog rock during their 90-minute set.

Eric Escanes – Electric Kif – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

As often happens with musicians as talented as these gents, they are tapped to fill in on other musicians’ tours. In April, drummer Armando Lopez was touring with Cory Wong’s incredible collective, and they had a local player sit in. For this tour, bass player Rodrigo “Digo” Zambrano was in Europe with Anuel AA. Fortunately, superb bassist Andres Ferret stepped up. Ferret and Lopez play together in outstanding experimental trio Anemoia with Aaron Lebos, so Ferret was familiar with Kif’s material; the show was seamless! He and Lopez are in lockstep. And, yes, that is a pigeon (or something) on Ferret’s guitar strap. And, yes, it is stuffed. And, no, we have no idea why.

Andres Ferret – Electric Kif – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

They opened with “Sonar” from last year’s Dreamlike, then into the interesting cadence of “St. Germain,” that one from the 2019 album Jefe. It was then revealed that it was Jason Matthews’ birthday, so, yes, there was an amusing rendition of the song plus a sing-along from the crowd, fueled by the Dionysus boys and their gang. With that, they launched into the title track from Jefe, heavy on the killer prog rock. Matthews is a wizard, a true star on synths and keyboards. He makes great use of those swaths of synth strings and the rest of his arsenal.

Jason Mathews – Electric Kif – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

The quartet went light and airy for “F.M.B” before, like a locomotive, it built up steam and barreled down the tracks. They followed that up with “The Tumble,” a song written during the pandemic when the band isolated themselves to write. This one was straight WOW, Matthews on clavinet.

Lopez had a drum feature before the band fell in, with Ferret and Escanes both stepping out. My absolute favorite of the band’s compositions is “Labrats,” and they offered up a stunning version, alternating between roaring and dialed way back. Escanes crushed, and Lopez was the propellant all evening long.

Armando Lopez – Electric Kif – 07.14.22. 📷: Rick Davidson

Electric Kif loves covering Herbie Hancock, and here they offered an outstanding version of “Actual Proof” with Matthews on the Yamaha electric piano and others from his array of keys. They closed the evening with “Anthem” from Dreamlike, killer start to finish. This Kif variation with Ferret on bass was outstanding.

The South Florida jamsters now head to Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Check them out in person and on all the usual streaming platforms.

 

ELECTRIC KIF

07/15  Fire Betty’s | Tallahassee FL  **w/ Dionysis
07/16  Jazz & Jokes | Sandy Springs GA
07/17  The Flat Iron | Greensboro NC
07/19  The Pour House Music Hall | Raleigh NC
07/21  Charleston Pour House | Charleston SC
07/22  One World Brewing | Asheville NC
07/23  The Evening Muse | Charlotte NC  **w/ Misnomer
08/20  Guanabanas Island Restaurant & Bar | Jupiter FL
09/15  Ronnie Scott’s | London GBR

 

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