No planes, trains or automobiles were required for the musical journey on which fans embarked at Public Assembly last Friday. The crowd packed it up and packed it in, opening playlist jams driving the heated energy and erupting into the bombastic recognition that Chino Maurice, his DJ and band were on to something truly marvelous. I observed the faces of friends, the faces of strangers and the general movement in the room. Some were paused at first, likely considering “What kind of music is in store?,” “How the snauce do I dance without looking foolish?,” and “Do I want to dance with somebody? Do I want to feel the heat with somebody?”
From the get-go, there was undeniable energy for the medium-sized space. Maurice let loose onstage, opening with the song “Trixie,” with a soulful and buoyant melody, springy guitar loops, Motown brass, elastic-y bongos and catchy backbeats. Maurice’s vocals hearkened to James Brown, but with a more raw and tender tinge. Both his style and his songs’ styles are effortlessly cool, collected, strong in presence and energetic. His sound is like Hendrix, to whom he often gets compared, but also like Curtis Mayfield.
Songs that followed were covers of legendary classics, such as Sly And The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music,” Parliament’s “Give Up The Funk,” the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and the Eagles’ “Hotel California.” This song in particular provided an incredible and completely original remapping of the classic song, permeated with Maurice’s signature style. These along with the quirky track “Jukebox” and the bellowing and soulful “Luna” (video below) roused the crowd and evoked some incredible dance movements from just about everyone—think of harnessing the energy equivalent of a cluster of Peruvian mountains filled with Mexican jumping beans and Red Bull. Consider Maurice ready to rebuild the funk factory along with his severely talented instrumentalists including John Hamilton, a New York DJ who, in addition to DJ-ing with Maurice, spins at Greenhouse, Gansevoort Park and the Hotel On Rivington.
The show was a great success, and the room swarmed with funkified and real energy—the kind of energy you want to see in music today—not sugar-coated, just pure rock ’n’ roll and soul. Soul, revival, anyone? Sign me up.