3/5/15 – Brighton Music Hall

A riptide of funk welled between the walls of Brighton Music Hall. Three bands took to the stage on Thursday night—Gang of Thieves, Boston’s own live hip-hop band Viva La Hop, and Boston’s funk-rock group Ripe. The undercurrent was strong, the riptide rocking, and attendees had no choice but to get wiggling. Ahoy!

— Gang of Thieves —

A late eighties Red Hot Chili Peppers plus dreadlocks and electric violin. That’s Vermont-born funk rock band Gang of Thieves. Lead singer and violinist Michael Reit led his Gang onstage and jolted Brighton Music Hall to life, fiddling away and swooshing his dreads from side to side. He took a wide stance, shifting his weight from one foot to the other with the beat like an enthusiastic group exercise instructor. Those in attendance were glad they had signed up for his class.

The band filled the room with energy, and then they let it out slowly, playing softer and softer with each note. “How low can you go?” whispered drummer Deven Massarone, as the rest of the band members crouched, then fell on their asses and lay down, continuing to play their instruments. Naturally, next they burst into a rendition of the Ghostbusters theme song. 

Despite a few too many “Boston, make some noise!” attempts, Gang of Thieves put on an entirely entertaining set. Between verses Reit would caw into his microphone like a crow that just discovered fresh roadkill. It was a spectacle.

For the final two songs, the group invited Ripe’s trumpeter Josh Shpak onto the stage to jam out, who held his own in spite of making one false toot when the rest of the band had stopped playing. Shpak raised his free hand and shared a laugh with Gang’s trombonist whom he was standing next to, as if admitting to the class that it was he who had committed the crime.

For a gang of thieves, they are a generous bunch.

— Viva La Hop —

I hereby nominate Viva La Hop to be the first band to play a show in the International Space Station. Their set mixed spacey wind chime effects and washed-out guitar noise with bass- and drum-driven funk grooves to bring it all back to Earth. Guitarist Dave Kawamura (aka Sub Q) gave Gang of Thieves’ lead singer a run for his money for the person who was having the most fun that night.

Oft-featured Viva La Hop singer Iva Kostic was again along for the ride, providing vocals on some of their songs. While female vocals are a nice counterpoint to Philly G’s baritone bars, her voice at times wandered off-key. MC’s Bo Lyriks and Philly G reeled it in, passing rhymes back and forth with sniper precision.

— Ripe —

Add Ripe lead singer Robbie Wulfsohn into the running for Person Having the Most Fun at the Concert award. Sweat-drenched and dancing, Wulfsohn sang a mix of brand new songs and songs from their first (and only) EP, backed by a tight backing band, horn section of course included. One of Ripe’s biggest assets, which they demonstrated throughout their entire set, is their ability to play in synch with each other and not miss a beat. Too fast, too funky, but no task too big, Ripe feels like the type of band that would be sincerely sorry if anyone left the show without a jump in their step. Luckily, that was never on the table.

Near the end of the show Ripe’s manager and a few others took their positions and fired. Confetti cannons rained rainbow bits of shredded paper. Could there be a more fitting image that represents Ripe’s music?

Confetti Cannon Funk: Gang of Thieves, Viva La Hop, Ripe
  • Ripe tighter than a vine of sour grapes
  • Dreadlocks and electric violin
  • Confetti cannons
  • No Ripe ballad, which could be a nice change of pace
  • Long show; by the end, crowd had less energy
8.5Confetti Funk

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