Last Thursday, April 24th, my buddy and I were both feeling a little down in the dumps so he suggested we go to a show…just a little over three hours away. Now I’m all for the spontaneity in any given adventure but I’m typically opposed to driving long distances when the time spent at said destination is less than a twenty-four hour period. Even so, once “BoomBox” rolled off of his tongue I was no longer hesitant about the trek—reminiscing on how wonderful my experience at Red Rocks was when the band opened up for Lotus and Minnesota was enough to woo me.
Since their inception in 2004, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist Zion Godchaux and producer and drummer Russ Randolph planted a vivacious seed that continues to bud into their ever so colorful career. Having been raised by a family of former Grateful Dead band members enabled Zion to get well acquainted with rock and roll culture as well as jazz. As for Russ, exposure to rhythm and blues was quintessential having spent his youth in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which is notably an avenue for artists to discover, write and record music. Other outside influences have also been largely reflected in BoomBox’s sound, which include but are not limited to soul, house, reggae, folk rock, and jam bands. Given their knowledge and involvement with music production and engineering prior to meeting it seems only fate that the two would unify their talents and music-imbued upbringings to become the eminent ensemble they are today.
If I were to abridge the type of genre(s) BoomBox breeds, I would liken them to psychedelic rock and soul and funk electronic. Aside from the vocals, drums, and guitar, the band also works closely with groove boxes, turntables, noisemakers, and drum machines. The diversity of apparatuses allows them to constantly experiment with their sound and transmute their own original content into something more ad-libbed.
So we embarked on this impromptu trip mid-afternoon—temperatures dropping but the good vibes rising. Entering the venue belly full of buzzballs—which I do not recommend in the slightest—we were more than eager to get jiggy on the dance floor. Let me tell you, the Crystal Bay Club Casino in Nevada is quite the place to host a concert; having slot machines and poker tables within arms reach should not be legal. It was the first and only time I will gamble, with good reason; I lost twenty bucks within seconds. The actual venue was relatively small and vacant of the cigarette smoke that besieged the rooms of the casino. Those who weren’t in the mood to dance didn’t really have a choice considering the close quarters meant concentrated energy and a high percentage of boogying. Besides, why would you come to BoomBox if you weren’t planning to get down the entire time? Alas we reached the front of the crowd, iced (not to mention very strong) whiskey coke in hand, ready for the soulful sounds to flush away all of our sorrows.
Famously known for wearing outlandish accessories, the American duo appeared on stage with tremendous style; Russ was rockin’ the top hat and Zion was pimped out in a histrionic ushanka-like fuzzy hat and a black and white boa. BoomBox has a tendency towards navigating their set list into unknown destinations, which is why it is imperative to let out whatever noises you feel when surrounded by a crowd that fuels the flame of their music. . In conjunction with the consistent wooping and wooing and whistling, the crowd was cheesin’ and groovin’ without cessation. The enthusiasm emanating from the crowd speaks volumes about the amount of fervor BoomBox is capable of harnessing within a single set, or even just a guitar riff. Improvisation is huge with this duo— Zion was slaying his stringed music maker taking us into unexplored avenues of funk and groove while Russ was working his magic with both the live drum set and his mixer.
Zion and Russ are predisposed to morphing and mixing different instrumental elements from their songs to create something unprecedented on stage. Their music can be appreciated and reached by a wide demographic because of its versatility; whilst encompassing thought-provoking lyric content, BoomBox makes it a point to focus on getting in touch with the rhythm and the multifarious nature it conveys. Just as the crowd is very connected with each other as well as the band, Boombox is fully absorbed in making the crowd happy with their music which connects the two members to each other in ways they can only express through their sound. Whether BoomBox was jamming out a full on set or just steady drumbeats and strumming, the whole crowd was bobbing their joyful little heads.
I noticed they blended the main pattern of notes from Watergun off of their 2010 album “Downriverelectric” with other songs of theirs throughout the evening. Instrumental phrases from their hits Shakedown Street and Mr. Boogieman could be heard throughout the set and was responded well to, evident in the loud uproar of the crowd. Though I’m a fan of any and all BoomBox creations, my favorites of the evening were India and Stereo off of their first album released in 2004 titled “Visions of Backbeat”, as well as World and Lost Ya off of their most recently released album (2014) “Filling in the Color”. All in all, the immeasurable beauty of the evening can only be experienced through attending another BoomBox show, and as soon as BoomBox comes through my neck of the woods again I’ll certainly be front and center at their show.
For those of you enraptured by the funkadelic ambience this band delivers, you can check out their website here: Thisisboombox.com
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