One might think that last week’s A$ap experience would prove difficult to follow up, but then George Clinton comes back to town, bringing with him a large band, some alien creatures, a maggot brained joint-smoking skeleton, and a large batch of funk grooves. Slightly less obese than last year, George moved around the stage rather well, even jumping during the final moments of “Atomic Dog” and impressed me, big time. Ten things I took away, besides mild tinnitus, after the jump.
1. Dude is 70, dresses like Rick Ross Sr. and generally kills it: George Clinton, P-Funk’s constant member and band leader, still impresses despite his age and girth. His voice has taken a hit from many years of singing, spliffing and more spliffing.
2. There’s something for everyone: Almost anybody can enjoy a P-Funk classic like “Flash Light” or “Atomic Dog,” and that’s before the band veers off into hard rock and hip hop territory with excursions led by Michael Hampton and Clinton’s granddaughter, Sativa. The only people who may not like a P-Funk show are unironic Taylor Swift fans, and who hangs out with those people anyway.
3. These concerts are populated with colorful characters: To my left was a short boy in a Grateful Dead t-shirt, to my right was a man who looked like LA Reid in a $300 suit, to my front was a Riff Raff lookalike who said he’d been seeing Parliament shows since he was three, and behind me, a drunken 50-year-old mother who wouldn’t shut up about seeing disco DJs at ’70s warehouse parties. Need I say more?
4. P-Funk is (not so) quietly prepping for FemSex: The intro to “Maggot Brain” says it all: “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y’all have knocked her up.” Parliament-Funkadelic is the product of decades of George Clinton’s psychosexual wants and desires. Gigantic phallic aliens in spacesuits? A particularly horny dog (“it’s nothin but the DOG in me”)!? His tendency to mime masturbation with his microphone stand? It all makes sense when you look at it with some Freud. Or not. I imagine it would…
5. The jams, man. The jams: When there’s a whole lot of rhythm goin’ round, there must be extended funk jams. These are probably some of the best you’ll find in the year 2012, where funk generally lives on in Dr. Dre songs and at countless Bar Mitzvahs. Trumpet, Sax, Bass and Guitar all take their time to solo, with Michael Hampton—the lead guitarist who resembles a hybrid of Jerry Garcia and Toots Hibbert—making the most impressive showing during Maggot Brain’s lead track (see below, and give it the full 11 minutes if you’re up for the down stroke).
6. Go for “Give Up the Funk,” stay for “(Not Just) Knee Deep”: Proving that it’s not just the most sampled song on Death Row Records, “(Not Just) Knee Deep” is one of the concert’s most satisfying jams and a memorable sing along at the same time. As an added bonus, absolutely everybody knows the wordless refrain from its noted De La Soul usage. This is the song that converts atheists into believers…of the funk that is. Yep, just said that.
7. Something stank and I want some: Yes, as with most concerts, there is weed at this show. But like, a lot of weed. You think teenagers smoke a lot and then you meet the former groupies…and the Soul Train rejects…and the dudes who look like Dr. Dre circa 1993. Then granddaughter Sativa sings her ode to pot, and the band lights a spliff (or twelve) and continues with the P-Funk hits. Yes, there might be more pot at a Phish show…but nowhere is it more appreciated (except maybe here).
8. They’re relatively low budget: Yes, it’s sad to admit, but P-Funk shows don’t sell out like they used to. Forty-ish years off of their astoundingly expensive Mothership tour, the P-Funk gang has lowered its production values but not its musical skills. The songs are great and the volume is almost too loud, but there won’t be any spaceship.
9. It’s relatively low budget: Parliament shows run around $20 because they aren’t the same big ticket act of decades past. That’s good for the impoverished college student. Very good. And you can spend more money on $7 Heinekens at the show!
And most of all…
This is Parliament-Funkadelic’s second Lupo’s show in 2012, so I would expect another in 2013. This concert is one of the best values in town, especially if you factor in the secondhand smoke. As you all can tell, I really, really love Parliament-Funkadelic, but I can admit that this obsession is rather young, as I saw them for the first time last February at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. Stalk the Lupo’s website, seriously.