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Review: The Main Squeeze at Brooklyn Bowl

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The soulful groovy funk band showed Brooklyn Bowl how to shimmy down on Thursday.

The Brooklyn Bowl hosted what I can only describe as a funky, hop around, head bob, all smiles, fantastic ride last Thursday, July 11. The Main Squeeze, a funkadelic no-worries high energy jam band from Illinois, tore down the house along with their friends Watermelon ft. The Verb and Kwame Darko. The night started off with with bodies slathered in glow paint, moved into a series of fire alarm-interrupted sets with shredding guitar solos, and ended with tons of hype.

Watermelon began the night in full neon body paint. When I say full, I mean, full, it covered most of the band's bodies and let me tell you, these dudes really knew how to get loose and dance to their own sound.

They reside right here in New York City and have a sound I can only describe as funky-hip-hop-rock-n-roll. It's like when a rap artists decides he can play rock and roll and it turns out to be terrible. Watermelon is the opposite of that. This is a funk band that can dip their toes into hip-hop, do it organically, and do it very well. 

Don't get me wrong though, they clearly came from funk origins. It's pretty transparent that the band has a diverse set of influences affecting their music. In addition, visually, these guys, and one gal, are so fun to watch. 

I especially liked Alex Stewart, the lead vocals, because the man can really groove effortlessly with the rhythm. I hadn't heard anything recorded from them before going to the show, but I can imagine that if I did, I'd want to hear it live even more. They're one of those bands who's energy needs to be seen in person and not masked behind a digital mp3.

Unfortunately, I only got to see a song or two of Watermelon by themselves, but the guests they brought out only made the show that much better. Stewart called out MH The Verb for a couple of hip-hop infused songs, but first they performed a classic. 

The Verb yelled to the crowd "who likes the Beatles?!" which totally surprised me at first, but after they played "Don't Let Me Down" I was blown away at the fusion between the two musicians. After, the music got faster and The Verb spit verses over a couple of funky instrumentals before calling out yet another guest, Kwame Darko.

Kwame Darko really pulled the whole act together with his pacing. Not only was he delivering lyrics at a quick rate, he was doing it with record quality. I know a lot of rappers that can spit fast, but sort of blur their words together when it comes to a live performance. 

Not these dudes. 

The Verb and Kwame Darko had a constant flow all while maintaining stage presence, aka, jumping around and getting the crowd hyped up. These were the kind of songs that have quick sets of lyrics by the two rappers and then pull back at the chorus to allow for a slow summer-time jam melody to break up verses. Kwame performed an entire song to himself, which was really impressive, and the whole band performed "Beautiful Thing," which has an awesome chorus as well as great lyrics. 

Danny Dahan had an intense hand slapping bass solo that lasted for what seemed like minutes. It was awesome to see, considering Dahan had been pretty minimal as far as stage presence went but then jumped out during this solo and really went wild with it. His pants really only helped his cause. At this point, The Verb was in the crowd dancing around waving a towel, a sign for a good night to come.

Watermelon signed off reminding everyone that we had it pretty good with "F'in bowlin, F'in drinking, and F'in hot ladies and I'm just happy to be a part of it." 

Cheers to that sir.

After their set, the crowd started to fill and we all anxiously waited for The Main Squeeze. When they came on, I could barely describe the energy these guys put out. Corey Frye, the lead vocalist, puts out an amazing sound that you can just tell emanates from the bottom of his chest. Their whole sound reminds me of a mix of Blues Traveler and a faster paced Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band with a touch of Lettuce in there. Somehow, though, it was so different from those bands as well. 

Fast drums, tight bass lines, and high rising vocals had me and the rest of the crowd hopping around uncontrollably. Corey Frye has quite a stage presence, jumping back and forth from the lead vocals to toweling himself off backstage and allowing the rest of the band to shine, the dude was born to be a front man.

They were playing "Mama Told Me" off their latest self-titled album when all of the sudden the lights shut off. Ironically it was toward the end of the song and the lyrics just panned out too perfectly.

"Well, I don't know why it happened/And I really don't care/Moma told me son, you'll regret it/And she's probably right/But not tonight."

After a somewhat uncomfortable finish to the song, and with everyone looking around to see that fire alarms were going off, Main Squeeze played it cool.

Corey came out over the mic, looked around a little and said "If you think we're the type of band who's gonna stop for the fire alarms, you got us mistaken." He then gave a humbling speech, taking the time to shout out where they're from and how far they've come in the past couple of years.

After thanking the fans, acknowledging that without the crowds energy they'd have never gotten this far, they played what Corey called "the epitome of who we are," and immediately started into "Dr. Funk," like nothing had ever happened. 

About halfway through the song, the lights came back on and the crowd went nuts again. Again, the timing couldn't have been better. 

"They call me the Doctor, Dr. Funk/ cause I got what you need." 

I almost thought the whole thing was on purpose, it went together so well, but either way it worked out perfectly for them.

If there was one thing that stood out about this band, it's that no one hogged the spotlight, and no one was the star. In every song it was apparent that they all vibed off each other, especially Jeremiah Hunt (Bass) and Max Newman (guitar).

These two would get right up next to each other and battle out a long and building solo before blasting off into the next chorus. During the middle of their set, they played some heavier stuff, allowing Max and Jeremiah to really slam out some quick paced solos and tightly knit builds while Corey would wrap it all up with a high pitched chorus. Jeremiah had an intense two-minute long bass solo that used up just about every funky bass rhythm I could think of. 

It would be a deep dishonor to not mention their drummer, Reuben Gingrich, and keyboardist, Ben "Smiley" Silverstein. Ben not only had a lock on some of the grooviest keyboard solo's I've ever heard live, but like his nickname states, the man was smiling from the time he got on stage until the time they broke down their equipment. He even brought out a keytar and played a finger blurring solo on it. One of their later songs, which I didn't get the chance to catch the name of, had a solo by every member of the band.

With the band's set coming to an end, Corey came out and said "We've been taking ya through all kinds of genre's, it's time to relax, love a little, maybe smoke one in the alley, and be happy, because tonight doesn't happen all the time." Well said.

After leaving the stage and five minutes of the crowd screaming encore, they came back out and did a truly epic version of "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers. I've seen many, many bands cover this song, but these guys just wouldn't let up. What seemed like probably a ten minute cover, which would make it easy for the crowd to lose attention, the band kept concert-goers awe by building and building up the chorus and breaking it down with a few intense solos.

Considering I've never heard of this band before I went to the show, I've been missing out on a lot of funky stuff. Their tour ends in early August, so if you can see them while they're still out, I'd highly recommend it. 

Like their website says, "If you've ever wondered whether the juice is worth the squeeze, you should look no further -- The Main Squeeze is sure to be hitting a city near you sometime soon, leaving their crowd funkified and freshly squozen."

I couldn't agree more.

If you missed The Main Squeeze in your area, don't worry. Let CHARGED.fm get you the best concert tickets this year!


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