Gods of funk, we honor thee. That genre of music is alive and well thanks to the new masters of funk, The Main Squeeze. Proof of such a title was given earlier this week when they graced the Brooklyn Bowl. Not to impugn Parliament Funkadelic or Earth, Wind and Fire, but The Main Squeeze are paving an original path in music that is astonishing. Their music is a mix of pure danceable goodness with the lingering thoughtfulness of modern day jam sessions. Members Corey Frye, Max Newman, Ben “Smiley” Silverstein, Rob Walker and Reuben Gingrich are musicians who make listeners excited for music again.
As a current fan of their work, I was extremely looking forward to finally having the chance to witness The Main Squeeze in their full force. On what was an unusually windy, warm and rainy night, the trek over to Brooklyn was quite a messy ordeal. However, the goal at hand made everything worthwhile in the end. Arriving at the Brooklyn Bowl, I was greeted with no line, much to my surprise, as I entered the space. I got my answer to the short line when I noticed the opener was still on stage. The poor guys were playing their hearts out to a crowd was scarce. They were even trying so hard to get people into it. Here I was arriving early in anticipation that the crowd would be ginormous because of The Main Squeeze.
Luckily, snagging bourbon always helps. Sipping away at my drink, the crowd began to steadily grow and the excitement grew along with it. I started getting suspicious as I noticed more and more hippies were scattered about the place. Why were they all here sporting their Grateful Dead sweatshirts? Well, I guess they like funk music too. Admiring the giant disco ball in the center of the ceiling, the opener ended their set to some mild cheers. At least they finished with a high note.
After a short while, The Main Squeeze came out down the backstage stairs to a flourish of purple and green lights followed by intensely loud cheers from the young crowd. The men of funk got right into a groovy and warped psychedelic tune. It was hard to hang back as the audience began to push up front. Ben’s elegant synths welcomed us first with the bellowing bass from Rob. From that vibe, the music immediately turned into a rock and roll show. Then it turned right into pure funk honey! I was already amazed with the transition within the songs. All of these classic genres were carefully crafted. The band bounced with ease to their stuff, which prompted the audience to bounce along.
Corey handled that microphone with care and made sure to keep us all involved with his sublime vocals. Mr. Frye’s soulful vocals worked beautifully just as well live in comparison to their studio work. His right hand was on the move as he delved in deep within his lyrics. I admired his t-shirt that read, ‘Only Good Vibes.’ It was a perfect message for the evening taking place. Goddamn, Corey could really go high with his voice! My jaw dropped open during these moments. Cheers from the audience, yours included, usually shadowed it all. Max’s guitar riffs and solos were a nice contrast to the drumbeats of Reuben. Song conversions were immaculate and pleasantly short. It seems to be a new trend nowadays for bands to keep the flow going without wasting any time. Simply put, this is music conservation at its best.
Throughout the show, listeners had to snap their fingers and tap their feet. Everyone could not help but jive with it all. Max’s hair was another thing to enjoy other than his unbelievable guitar skills. It was flowing and was artfully wild. His passion for the craft could visibly be seen in his contorted facial expressions and the swaying of that extreme hair. It amplified his persona on stage along with the wailing guitar that could really scream! Electricity was running through him and was unleashed in musical satisfaction in the space. Many bowlers even started to stop playing the sport to watch the music magic. That is when bands know they have succeeded at the Brooklyn Bowl.
I was able to finally see why the hippies were here. Other than funk, The Main Squeeze were also rulers of elaborate music jams. Every now and then, more jam sessions broke out with enjoyment from the audience. There was even some funk rap thrown in there that night to pair with it. Ben’s keyboard skills were on point as listeners were able to feel every sound emitting through the speakers. The Main Squeeze’s stage presence was profoundly strong. Whoever was controlling the Brooklyn Bowl’s lighting should be commended for their work. Every glare and strobe went well with their tunes.
Eventually, their music turned a tide into a quick paced blur of musical magic. It was at this point that I noticed that a smile was plastered on Corey’s face when he was looking out to the crowd. Fans could tell that man was simply happy to be there. I was overjoyed when a tune came through that sounded like something you would hear at an old New Orleans jazz club. All that they needed were a few horn sections. That was an excellent touch! Truth be told, the songs never really stopped. One sprang into the next with ease. When they brought it down, the funk and bass lived on. Rhythm and blues could not fully claim it until the melody slowed down for some tremendous soul searching. The music began to ebb and flow with a rise and fall of passionate emotion.
Brooklyn Bowl’s atmosphere was pumped right back up for the night in the now overly crowded space. A lover’s ballad came out and many couples took advantage of this. I could go on forever discussing every element of this show but my favorite part of the night was when Ben brought out the keytar. Now, I had not seen a keytar in action since I saw Herbie Hancock at Carnegie Hall back in 2010! Ben’s take on the marvelous machine was divinely intricate. With a grin and his ponytail swaying everywhere, he danced all over the stage jamming with all of the band members in total freedom. It was the highlight of the night.
So there you have it, The Main Squeeze in all of their ever-glorifying funkiness. There is simply nobody else that can muster such a talented display of raw and imaginative music live. Every bit of it was just as impressive as their work in the studio. I encourage all fans of music to become a fan and to enjoy dancing again. The Main Squeeze will have you smiling in no time.