Electro-funk was initially an “urban” experience, relegated to the R&B charts. But in the mid-'80s, the synthesizer-driven sound crossed over to the mainstream, delivering hits for Cameo, Midnight Star, and, of course, Prince. Soon, synths were everywhere, driving smashes by the likes of pop singer Cyndi Lauper, heavy metalers Van Halen, and heartland rocker Bob Seger. Naturally, the backlash soon hit, with underground musicians decrying the false, slick commercial sound of the instrument. Eventually, though, whatever's old becomes new again, and electro-funk is back in a big way. The purest purveyor of the sound is Los Angeles' Dâm-Funk, a keytar-rocking DJ and producer who hosts a weekly dance night, “Funkmosphere.” On his 2009 Stones Throw release, Toeachizown (available as a five-LP box set, natch), Dâm-Funk hews so closely to the genre's thick, spasmodic synth lines; digitized handclaps; knee-knocking bass thump; and sexy vocal murmuring that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference from the originals. Live, Dâm-Funk (pronounced “Dame,” as in Damon Riddick, his given name) is a more organic beast, laying down live drums and some seriously psychedelic keyboards. This particular show is even more intriguing, as it features the first local performance by Nite Funk, a chilled-out collaboration between Riddick and psychagogic popper Nite Jewel (aka Ramona Gonzalez). The freaks come out tonight.
Dâm-Funk performs with Master Blaster, Nite Jewel, and Jonas Reinhardt.
Thu., July 1, 9 p.m., 2010