The big wide world of Lettuce descended south to Texas to kick off the fall stretch of the funk-stronauts Unify Tour, a week-long string of dates in the country’s Southeastern region. The vivacious Krewe is entirely engulfed in goodness at the moment—coming directly from a short rest after a 20-show European run and the band’s annual Halloween affair at Hulaween. The tour debuted in Dallas at the historic Granada Theater with a full crowd eager to warm up from the sudden almost-freezing cold front in the Lone Star State.

The numerically significant night of 11/11/22 saw “RVA Dance” open the set, not coincidentally the opening track off the group’s latest album. This upbeat, playful number allowed the sextet to initially birth its strut into the sonic realms of the almost 80-year-old theater, which takes you back to the golden era of art deco (it was designed by the same artists who executed the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles). No holds barred, Lettuce promptly presented “Krewe” off of 2019’s Elevate, an easygoing ode that transports to an age of no worries except for the groove. The melody methodically dances with the convivial shady horns, paired with the infectious organ hook making its presence shine alongside the impossible-to-resist duo of Adam Deitch on drums and Erick “Jesus” Coomes on his 1966 vintage Fender bass.

It was clear from the get-go that Ryan Zoidis was fully immersed in his saxophone silo, beaming the prismatic portal of uncharted realms wide open for all to soak up. “Krewe” convened directly into The Stylistics‘ “People Make the World Go Round”, allowing Nigel Hall to commandeer his music body completely into the atmosphere. Title-track “Mt. Crushmore” from 2016’s album demanded the reins serving as the triumphant anthem it is, bringing those bombastic hip-hop beats to the forefront, casually laced with ominous-yet-royal vocal cries and regal brass bites.

Hope-inducing, oxytocin-producing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” was up next before the soulful pack veered toward a completely Lett-ified version of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman”. The train didn’t stop as “Boogie On” catapulted blues-style straight into absolute classic “Breakout” before laying down “Royal Highness”, the infectious synth-riddled, full-body-shake inducing, Prince-nodding art piece from Elevate to cap off set one.

And just like that, it was clear to the multitude of virgin listeners and Lett-connoisseur that our favorite crunchy green leaf has been continuing its relentless dedication and persistence in consistently improving and learning in each member’s respective crafts. Deitch clued me in after the show that “this current season of Lettuce, in particular after having such a transformative time as a band and unit in Europe”, the life-long friends and bandmates have reinvigorated an even deeper means by which to “explore the architecture of their sound together.”

Related: Stages Of The BTTRFLY Quintet Life Cycle With Adam Deitch & Hunter Roberts [Interview/Stream]

A breezy 20-minute set break allowed attendees to dry the music-produced sweat in the crisp and chilly Texas air, while the band and crew took a momentary breather before number two started. Skipping zero beats, another Elevate staple, “Larimer”, established the cue right off the second-round bat, creating a palpable essence of straight unrelinquished, spiritual vibes (with a side of Southern twang sprinkled in).

Fresh-squeezed banger “Hawk’s Claw” was delivered to the folks down south for the first time since the album was released before the crowd was encompassed by the unmatchable serenade of Nigel Hall with the group’s quintessential cover of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. The heart-filled version of the ’80s English pop song with a deep meaning centered around governmental power, control, and war took an unexpected but oh-so wildly satisfactory segway when Hall journeyed into “Open Your Eyes”, Bobby Caldwell’s R&B classic, commonly known by Common’s sampling of it in “The Light.”

Fresh off of Unify, the funky outfit “Lett the World Know” before slam dunking set two with a highly anticipated live version of also new “Vamanos”. The band blessed Dallas with a doubleheader encore, composed of an insanely layered and nostalgia-provoking “Squadlive” straight into “House of Lett” off 2020’s Resonate. The Granada buzzed with residual funk, jazz, and soul dust as throngs of folks slowly made their way home or opted for more jam-funk at the indoor portion of the venue, Sundown. Livetronic acts Yak Attack and Montu allowed the party to continue as the first night of autumnal unification staked its claim.

Lettuce – “House of Lett” – 11/11/22 – Partial

Onward to Austin

Onward to the state’s capital the buses drove, parking their home for the night outside of Stubb’s, a venue familiar to the musical cats that would play there on 11/12/22. The “Gravy Train” arrived at the Red River station with a chill-jazzy howdy before shooting for the outer galactic realm with stomper “Sam Huff’s Flying Ragin’ Machine” from 2008’s RAGE. Without warning, the band dished out “Phyllis” for what was sure to be one of the dopest, most trilled-out, and completely recycled renditions of the song that the group has played for a hot minute.

Another fully embraced Nigel showstopper everyone’s souls needed, a chart-topping take of Mary Jane Girls‘ hit “All Night Long” cascaded over the happy sea of music lovers. Full of fun surprises, Lettuce partied its way into an extended cut of ’90s classic “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” by Crystal Waters. The following “Pocket Change” was filled with an extended bluesy jam showcasing Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff and his absolutely unhinged talent and precision to detail. Before set one ended, the space was honored with a sit-in on “Moksha” by renowned sitarist Indrajit Banerjee who is no stranger to the Lettuce family and a mentor/friend to the band.

Lettuce – “All Night Long” (Mary Jane Girl) > “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” (Crystal Waters) – 11/12/22 – Partial

Fully charged and ready to get warm again by the commencement of set two, Stubb’s invoked a “Blast Off” straight into “Shine”, truly extenuating the caliber of sonic excavation that this brotherhood has been fusing together for decades. Widely spanning its discography, the band immediately ricocheted into “Lettsanity”, which did just the trick of knocking the temperature up considerably with the crowd completely Lett-ing loose. When the heat couldn’t be beaten, Lettuce exceeded any unwritten expectations by diving headfirst into its own remixed version of “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & The Drells. The two-night Texas festivities would not be complete without bittersweet sing-along “Do It Like You Do” into a tastily extended, more rare treat of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”.

Lettuce – “Funky Drummer” (James Brown) – 11/12/22 – Partial

Pressing straight ahead, the band transitioned into psychedelic, chill-hop number “Trapezoid” which is certainly cooler than cool, rather, ice-cold—flaunting crescendos of confidence oozing from Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet. To seal the barnburner of a set came Unify’s “The Lock”, a thoughtfully composed homage to mentor Jeffrey Lockhart from the band’s days back in Boston. With an earlier curfew for a Saturday night, a hugely receptive encore was fully embraced as the guys made it crystal clear that we are all indeed “Ready to Live”.

As the last notes rippled into the light of the rising moon, Coomes proclaimed “keep Austin awesome!” as he reflected the same sentiment within his role as the unwavering bass anchor all weekend “getting his kicks on Route 66 with all Fender everything” he animatedly stated in conversation post-show in Dallas. The Texas Lett jaunt sadly (but funkily) came to a close with Austin locals Shaws of Awe shutting down the venue’s indoor stage for everyone to get their last wiggles out.

Lettuce – Stubb’s Bar-B-Q – Austin, TX – 11/12/22

[Audio: Larry Pillman]

Before we completely tighten up the jar on this Texas recap, there are a few honorable mentions and highlights that need be mentioned. Firstly, the Lettuce team is quite the well-oiled machine and it sure takes the whole crew to make the magic happen on the road. Special shout-outs to the lighting, sound, production, stage, managerial, venue, and everyone working behind the scenes to bring the experience mobile and live. One more romantically-centered nod to the union of forever Lett-leader, guider of The Force, devoted caretaker of all things Funk and Goodness (and my personal journalism mentor) Brain aka Bee Getz aka Upful Life media unified with his equally as incredible and healer-teacher-maker-alchemist and so much more partner Alicia over the weekend. Their energy and love were definitely felt in peak moments of the shows. Blessings to the power of love, live music, and live Lettuce.

Catch Lettuce on its remaining tour dates or later this winter for one of the band’s rendezvous in the States. A gallery of images from the Dallas show are available courtesy of photographer Andrew Sherman.

Setlist: Lettuce | Granada Theater | Dallas, TX | 11/11/22

Set One: RVA Dance, Krewe > People Make the World Go Round, Mt. Crushmore, Everything Alright, Boogie on Reggae Woman > Breakout, Royal Highness

Set Two: Larimar, Hawk’s Claw, Everybody Wants to Rule the World > Open Your Eyes, Lett the World Know, Vamanos

Encore: Squadlive (reprise) > House of Lett

Setlist: Lettuce | Stubb’s Bar-B-Q | Austin, TX | 11/12/22

Set One: Gravy Train, Sam Huff’s, Phyllis, All Night Long > Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless), Pocket Change [1] > Moshka [2]

Set Two: Blast Off [3] > Shine, Lettsanity > Tighten Up (Remix), Do it Like U Do > Funky Drummer, Trapezoid > Trap Dub, The Lock

Encore: Ready to Live

[1] Extended blues jam

[2] w/ Indrajit Banerjee on sitar

[3] Shmeeans broken string interlude