Last Friday night, students packed themselves into Chum’s Coffee House for a musical celebration they called “Fat Friday,” referring to Mardi Gras. WBRS hosted and organizaed the event and featured music by Philadelphia funk band Swift Technique and Brooklyn’s Turkuaz. The Facebook event described the bands as “large and exhilarating,” paying specific attention to Turkuaz, a dynamic nine-piece who have recently gained a lot of online attention. Doors to the event opened at 9 p.m., and Chum’s was filled almost instantly by excited guests, mostly students, though a few off-campus fans were also in the crowd.
Swift Technique, a self-described “intergalactic funk caravan” took the stage first to the cheers of students. The large ensemble, which included a guitarist, electric bass, vocals, a drummer and two horn players, began their set by thanking WBRS for bringing them back to campus (Swift Technique performed at Chum’s last spring) before launching into their first song. The song, a high-energy funk jam, immediately whipped the audience into a frenzy, with dancing students completely covering the entire venue. Indeed, the only people not dancing were the WBRS members running the Chum’s soundboard; even the band and the Chum’s employees behind the bar were getting down.
Attendees continued to pour in, filling Chums to its limits as Swift Technique powered through their set. At one point, a student (unidentifiable to me in the dark) wearing a full-body banana costume managed to start a huge conga line that sped around the room. Eventually the beads and tiaras that had been passed out at the beginning of the show finally made themselves onto students’ bodies, and the Mardi Gras spirit was in full bloom. Swift Technique put on a great show, extending their songs with guitar and bass solos, horn solos, drum solos, all kinds of solos. However near the end of the set, something malfunctioned, and the volume went much lower.
The band’s vocalist seemed to notice the change, but if anyone in the audience paid any mind, it was not shown because the party went on, even when Swift Technique finished and the event’s hosts put on a dancy iPod mix. After a 15 minute intermission, Turkuaz, “Brooklyn’s funk powerhouse” finally went on to insane fanfare. Setup took a little bit, as Turkuaz brought all nine of their band members (including two guitarists and three horn players) along, but it ended up being worth it. Though I had never heard of Turkuaz before the show, I became a big fan by their musicianship, on-stage chemistry and penchant for funk-versions of songs by other bands—I even danced a little.
Turkuaz, to put it simply, blew the roof off the place. Concert-goers who had been standing outside to escape the heat of Chum’s ran back in and did not leave again. Over the course of their songs Turkuaz blasted through rock-style songs, indie-style songs and soul-style songs, always within a funk frame. The audience only grew crazier, with kids bumping into each other and taking breaks for water. I even saw my friend in the banana suit again, only for him to trip and drive his elbow into my side, which gave me a pretty bad bruise.
At the time I was too distracted by the atmosphere at the show to feel the blow, but the next morning it was definitely there. Thankfully my bruise wasn’t the strongest memory of the night. Rather it was the fun I had with the music, dancing with friends, watching other people go crazy and the overall sense of fun and camraderie the event created.