10/4/14 – Brighton Music Hall

Typically, you don’t want something that is eight feet tall in front of you at a concert: a post, a pillar, a clown on stilts.

On Saturday night, however, you were lucky if you did. (Not a clown on stilts—don’t be ridiculous.)

Boston-based band Eight Feet Tall swarmed the stage at Brighton Music Hall, infusing reggae rhythms and fervent funk beats into an otherwise wet and dreary night. Fans wiggled in their boots, shaking off raindrops as EFT raised their horns and tooted upbeat, spunky melodies.

Led by their MC, Pete Doom, EFT has fun playing live, which was made obvious not only through their upbeat music, but also by the smiles exchanged between performers and their inclination to play whatever suited the moment. They treated the stage as their test kitchen for the night, banging on cowbells, congas, and tambourines, the audience members the beneficiaries of their rhythmic concoctions. It wouldn’t have been surprising if they’d pulled out a kitchen sink to drum on.

Though only at half-capacity, the venue seemed half-full rather than half-empty. EFT fired up tracks from each of their albums, The Mask and Digital Rewind, and even brought the concert into the crowd, playing follow the leader, horn-section style, as people ducked out of the way of Vinay Bhatt’s trombone slide. Among the game’s participants was Arnetta Johnson, EFT’s replacement trumpet player for the night, who had performed alongside Esperanza Spalding the night before. She was, to say the least, more than qualified to play the part.

Near the end of the show, Pete took a moment to announce the departure of guitarist Tom Barry from the band and to recognize his contributions as part of Eight Feet Tall. Along with his ability to shred his guitar into a thousand pieces, he will take with him his moppy, almost-Rasta hair—and as such the band’s reggae accreditation. Tom will certainly be missed, though with their stacked lineup of musicians, EFT will no doubt find a way to plug the hole.

Thanking the crowd for coming out on a rainy Saturday night, Pete added, “If I was President, we’d have every Monday off.” The crowd cheered.

I know whom I’ll be voting for next election.

Follow-the-Leader Funk: Eight Feet Tall
Pros
  • Range of styles (hip-hop, funk, reggae) keeps songs fresh
  • Clear that the band has fun performing
  • In-crowd “follow the leader” performance was captivating
Cons
  • Call and response vocals seemed forced
8.9Overall Score

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