Lettuce stopped by The Canopy Club in Champaign, Illinois on Wednesday night and proved that they were far from your average mid week filler. This Funktion was a showcase of their latest album Crush which brought groovy bass lines by E.D. Coomes, booming beats from Adam Deitch, and soulful support from the shady horns (Ryan Zoidis & Eric Bloom).
There aren’t many bands that can say they have been thriving together for almost 25 years, but Lettuce has an incomparable chemistry that keeps them free together and free to create. Each member has had a number of side projects with E.D Coomes playing for Britney Spears & Janet Jackson, Adam Deitch drumming for Break Science, and The Shady Horns supporting Pretty Lights Live, but their ability to communicate together on stage makes Lettuce a dynamic musical showcase.
Their ability to improvise is as impressive as their compositions and it’s what keeps them so fresh and fun from performance to performance. They are over halfway done with their Lets Start A Party Tour and no two performances are exactly alike. Lettuce has history and experience and it allows them to play together un-rehearsed and completely free by listening closely to each other and the small subtleties of what each member is playing. Each performance is more than just music, it’s a language communicated with physical gestures, eye contact, specific riffs, and almost un-noticeably small differences like the crescendo of a snare to signify the next section of the song.
Their Canopy Club performance represented all the best aspects of the band as they hit their groove and delivered soulful renditions of songs like The Force, Chief, and The Lobbyist off their newest album Crush which was released in November of last year. Lettuce doesn’t have a superstar in the band because the band is full of them and each member plays their individual role so well. It’s amazing to see the bands dynamics in motion as they delicately toss around the lead from one member to the next throughout their performance. There were even a couple times when I heard a solo start to rip through the mix but it wasn’t Smirnoff’s guitar it was Nigel Hall in the back smashing his synth!
The night really intensified when Nigel stepped up to the mic and showcased his vocal skills with the tour anthem Sound Like a Party. The band was picky in choosing any kind of vocalist and that choice paid off because they now have a man that can command the stage like the king of funk himself, James Brown. Nigel got the crowd clapping their hands and stomping their feet until they were begging for more.
When the fans want more, Lettuce gives them more in the form of an encore with the band stepping out for one last song to top all the others of the night. Nigel stepped up again to deliver the catchy hooks on Do it Like You Do but he had support from Ryan Zoidis and his smooth saxophone skills. The two collaborated back and forth until they jumped off the stage and Zoidis blasted the crowd with a proper sax solo up front and personal to close out the night.
Lettuce has 16 more stops left in its Lets Start a Party tour with a performance at The Pageant in St. Louis tonight and a special Halloween stop at the Hulaween music festival later this month.
The Geek x VRV
Supporting Lettuce at The Canopy Club was the electronic/hip-hop inspired act The Geek x VRV all the way from Paris, France. The three members properly pumped the crowd up with a live showcase of finger drumming, keys, and saxophone. They differ quite a bit stylistically from Lettuce but I can see why they chose them as a supporting act as the crowd responded well to their sample based songs.
The Geek x VRV is much like other sample based electronic musicians like Gramatik or the rising trio of Keys n Krates. Just like Keys n Krates they incorporated live instruments to keep the sound fresh and it’s a lively move that I support. Keep an eye out for The Geek x VRV as they continue to support Lettuce a few more times on this tour and as they build for a successful future.
More Photos from the night can be found on Flikr
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