Clark brings the funk

Toronto-based jazz-funk groups put on versatile sets  

via Unsplash

Toronto-based jazz group After Funk and five-piece collective ART the Band brought the funk to Clark Hall on Saturday, delivering two wildly-energetic and groovy performances.

While After Funk was the main attraction, the crowd at Clark was impressed by ART the Band. The group’s opening act set the bar high with their rich and textured musical arrangements, camaraderie and individual talent. The highly-experimental set made for a remarkable listening experience. Although the next band’s aim was to get down on the dance floor, ART the Band’s music simply wasn’t that kind of performance.

ART the Band’s rendition of a jazz-rock fusion demands every ounce of your attention. While jiving to an infectious groove or melody is fun, this kind of music is best experienced through keen observation and appreciating the musicians’ technical ability.

Band leader Nick Marshall knows how to captivate his audience. He has an eccentric and enthusiastic stage persona, which doesn’t overshadow but accentuates his other bandmates.

Tight arrangements and collaboration are what made ART the Band’s performance so impressive. They played cohesively as a band, while showcasing individual talent as well. During the performance, each band member, including the guitarist, drummer, bassist, saxophonist and trombonist treated us to lively, impassioned solos and clever improvisations.

“We just want to make people feel good. It’s all about the music, we’re trying to incorporate as little of our own ‘message’ as possible,” Marshall said after the show. “That’s the reason we don’t have a singer, there’s words, there’s specific meanings attached to everything. The songs aren’t anything, its just music and its up to the listener to decide what its about.”

The second half of the night had a completely different vibe as the dynamic After Funk took center stage with a flashy, energetic performance. After Funk played music you want to dance to. Insanely energetic keyboardist and lead singer, Yanick Allwood belted out hits designed to instigate dance floor chaos and singing along.

It contrasted the more contemplative, art-house performance that proceeded it. After Funk showed excellent musical range, playing everything from Elton John’s ‘Benny and the Jets’ to the sexy, funky hit ‘Kiss’ by Prince.

Yanick and company had the entire room bumping and grooving with big, orchestral renditions of classic pop hits and equally impressive original material. As the band got ready to wrap up, the lively crowd demanded an encore. After a double encore, Yanick segued into a blistering keytar solo. 

The crowd slowly stopped dancing and collectively began chanting “After Funk!” as Yanick’s solo came to a climatic crescendo.

“Support local music, get out there and listen to some shit. Have a good time. That’s what its about, that’s our thing,” Yanick said. “Playing music is … amazing I don’t know how else to explain it.”

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