The Rathskeller was packed with the warm glow of funk music on Nov. 6 as Freekbass took the stage. With enough neon haircuts and exotic sunglasses to make even George Clinton jealous, this band performed a strenuous set that was a hybrid of funk, rock and soul.
Lead singer and bassist Freekbass, the funk act’s heart and soul, kicked the show off by saying that the group is not used to performing as early as 8 p.m.
“We’re usually starting our sound check by this time,” Freekbass said.
From there the band took it into overdrive and started to deliver a frantic performance along the vein of other funk shows before it, relying on solid musicianship, humor and a strong sexual undercurrent.
Hailing from the town of Cincinnati and raised under the tutelage of Bootsy Collins, this three-piece band along with their hype man, Dr. Brookenstein, laid out a vibe generally unseen by most students present that night. Funk, while a very expressive, creative and popular sound, is something that doesn’t usually show its face around the Rat.
With funk acts, it generally all comes down to the bass. And in original songs like, “She’s Already There” and “Minute to Forever,” a strong gut rumbling bass takes front and center in Freekbass.
While both the drummer and lead guitarist played exceptionally well, the mile long basslines were what really carried Freekbass.
Lyrical content also generally takes a back seat to instrument playing in the realm of funk and this act was no different than most. Freekbass was on par with other groups such as Parliament, Funkadelic or James Brown, using a tight mixture of sexuality, social commentary and dark humor.
Most of the performance was made up of fairly low-key original material, but a few covers were played. “Come Together” and David Bowie’s “Fame” were ripe choices to be played and both numbers showed a lighter, poppier side to the funk trio.
While the night started to wind down, Freekbass played on. Even after almost three hours, drummer Chip Wilson was still hammering out a full-fledged assault on his drum kit, bombastically hitting every cymbal and drum head in sight.
“Dr. Brookenstein’s going to go out to the Mother ship parked outside everybody,” Freekbass joked. “There’s going to be some smoke coming out from there after the show, so interpret that as you will.”
There were a few things lacking in the performance, however. Smaller funk bands, like Freekbass, that rarely have horn sections, can put forth limited performances, often making the music seem repetitive and dull.
Also a funk show is often about the connection between the band on stage and the audience. This connection seemed to be absent, due to lack of interest on the part of many of the audience members.