Last night, the power-funk collective known as Turkuaz continued their West Coast fall tour with an energetic performance at The Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. The band was firing on all cylinders, mixing material from their most recent release Digitonium, new songs the band is road-testing, beloved covers, and classic material from throughout their career. This performance also marked the final night of their run with Sudanese-American fusion artist Sinkane, who impressed with his mix of progressive rock, reggae, jazz, and funk. The singer and his band were tight and fun, with a highlight of their set being a reggae-fied verse of “Last Dance With Mary Jane” by the recently deceased California icon Tom Petty in the middle of one of their songs.
As the clock struck 10:30 PM, the venue’s house music got a little louder, and the music curiously went from Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” into “Mo Money Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G., Ma$e, and P-Diddy. One by one, the members of Turkuaz emerged in their instantly recognizable, color-coordinated outfits, and frontman Dave Brandwein launched them into a raucous version of the Digitonium track, “Doktor Jazz.” The band added two more tracks from the new album—”Percy Thrills The Moondog,” and “Digital Love”—before working their way through “If I Ever Fall Asleep,” a new song that has been performed a handful of times this year since its debut in March.
Next up, the band utilized some tight choreography as they came to a full-stop right in the middle of “The Mountain.” The band stood there, frozen in place, before drummer Michaelangelo Carruba kicked them back into gear for a wild and energetic re-entry. Backup singers Sammi Garett and Shira Elias were absolutely on fire during “Coast To Coast” before fronting the ensemble for a soulful take on The Band’s version of the Marvin Gaye classic, “Don’t Do It.” Their powerful vocals are jaw-dropping, and each singer brought the house down again and again throughout the performance. It might be tough to follow that up, but they whipped out the Digitonium standout “Nightswimming” and kept the energy high for all in the room. “X.Y.Z. (Feelin’ Tough)” acted as a great and catchy change of pace. Brandwein’s effortless vocals and seamless harmonies with Garett and Elias, and baritone saxophone player Josh Schwartz really shined during this track.
After runs through “One & Lonely,” “Rule The World,” “The Generator,” and “On The Run,” Turkuaz invited out their good friend D.J. Williams from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Shots Fired. Williams famously was detained in Dubai earlier this year, going through a harrowing experience that won’t be soon forgotten. His appearance on stage brought a huge smile to the faces of Turkuaz, and he returned the vibes with an excellent guitar solo on “Holy Ghost.” Turkuaz worked one more Digitonium track into the set with “Gogo Mr. Dodo” before turning to their most cherished material to finish the set. “Back To Normal” whipped the crowd into a frenzy, “Future 86” was dripping with soul, and “Bubba Slide,” with its beyond funky bassline courtesy of bassist extraordinaire Taylor Shell, brought the set to a close with a bang.
For the encore, it only seemed fitting that the band pay homage to Tom Petty, and they did just that. Guitarist/Keyboardist/jack-of-all-trades Craig Brodhead started up the familiar riff from Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” which drew a huge roar from the crowd, and the band turned in a spot on and fun version of the cover. With the crowd on cloud nine, Turkuaz delivered one more track for the excited crowd—a rowdy version of their classic song “Monkey Fingers”—that brought the evening to a close.
“Runnin’ Down A Dream”
At this point, what is left to be said about Turkuaz in the live setting? They are powerful, soulful, funky, groovy, and visually entertaining with their colorful costumes and synchronized dance moves. All of the band members seem to have the time of their lives on stage, and that element shines through in the music they play. Their show at The Teragram Ballroom is a perfect example of their excellence, and one can only imagine that every night of the tour has that kind of atmosphere. Kudos to Turkuaz for continuing to be one of the best and most exciting live bands in the game!
Turkuaz continues their tour tonight with a free show at Top Golf in Las Vegas with funky upstarts Organ Freeman. Admirably, yesterday Turkuaz announced that they opened that their show in Las Vegas tonight would be free following the tragic mass concert shooting in the city earlier in the week. In a post on Facebook, the group stated, “In light of the events that occurred in this past weekend, we’d like to open up Friday’s show in Las Vegas as a free show. We encourage donations to be made in lieu of a ticket purchase. Funds will be donated directly to victims of Sunday’s tragic event on the Las Vegas Strip.”
[Photo: Bill McAlaine]
Setlist: Turkuaz | The Teragram Ballroom | Los Angeles, CA | 10/5/2017
Set: Doktor Jazz, Percy Thrills The Moondog, Digital Love, If I Ever Fall Asleep, The Mountain, Coast To Coast, Don’t Do It*, Nightswimming, X.Y.Z. (Feelin’ Tough), One & Lonely, Rule The World, The Generator, On The Run, Holy Ghost^, Gogo Mr. Dodo, Back To Normal, Future 86, Bubba Slide
Encore: Runnin’ Down A Dream#, Monkey Fingers
* The Band cover
^ w/ D.J. Williams
# Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover