By Julian Schoen
Dâm-Funk and DJ Quik
"SGV, 626, Pasadena!" Dâm-Funk, a 'Dena native, howled to an electrified El Rey crowd. His ruby red keytar was as bright as a Rose Bowl rose, his hair was parted down the middle, dangling as he broke off a ridiculously vibrant solo.
Dâm-Funk was back home, and the ambassador of modern funk received a hero's welcome after returning from a national tour with long-time running mates Master Blazter.
'Hip' is not a word generally associated with Pasadena, unless it's in reference to the most common joint replacement procedure of Tournament of Roses spectators. But this is Dâm-Funk, and if anyone can make the 626 look awesome, it's him.
"This is the real future, right here, LA," Dâm said. We tended to agree. For one thing, all of the performers -- who also included DJ Quik, Inc., and the Funkmosphere DJs -- got the LA crowd to dance. And not just the head-bobbing, arms-waving-in-the-air dancing typical of a hip-hop or electronic show, but real, feet moving, hips swaying dancing.
The ghostly, robotic talk box tinge of Roger Troutman kicked off Dâm-Funk's set. The timeless "More Bounce To The Ounce" quickly morphed into "Killdat aka Killdatmuthafu*ka" off Dâm's Toeachizown LP, which drew major roars from the crowd. It was obvious at this point that this was going to be a wild ride, and the audience was moving in unison to the waves of G-Funk and boogie rolling in sets throughout the night.
After performing "Forever," off his latest InnaFocusedDaze EP, Dâm went back to the classics, ripping through his first Stones Throw single, "Burn Rubber." He then slowed it down for a poignant, soulful keys-only rendition of "I Wanna Thank You For (Steppin Into My Life)," which stole the show.
What made the night so special was not only Dâm-Funk's eternal positivity, but the fact that there was a sense of community uniting the artists and the crowd.
DJ Quik and Inc. reviews below.
Compton's legendary DJ Quik took the party to the next level, dropping familiar classics. From Luniz to Eazy-E, Steve Arrington to Leon Haywood, and a dash of "Xxplosive", there was no doubting DJ Quik's status as a legend in the game.
Before DJ Quik took the stage, local funk crew Inc. laid velvety smooth, haute couture rhythms during their live set. Centered around Andrew and Daniel Aged, Inc. turned up the heat in the most sensual, subtle, and gentle ways. Wicked slap bass lines from Daniel were balanced by teardrop guitar solos from Andrew; the crisp, airtight pocket of the drums loosened up by free flowing saxophone licks. If Dâm-Funk and DJ Quik were G-Funk, Inc. was B-Funk, the 'B' standing for the bedroom.
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DJ Quik summarized the proceedings: "You live and you learn, but you gotta live to learn."
Personal Bias: I'm jealous of that girl wearing a Dâm-Funk shirt mimicking Prince's 1999 album cover. I want that shirt.
The Crowd: An eclectic mix of hip-hop heads with Raiders snap-backs, hipsters in leather jackets, and those well versed in modern-funk-splorations.
Random Notebook Dump: That was the weakest mosh pit I've ever seen.