That giant crowd was not disappointed. The Joey Kantor Trio, the act the crowd was really there to see, led off with a funk/groove sound reminiscent of Ben Folds with a bit more of a 1970s twist. Joey Kantor 07 led the group as the singer/organ/piano player with former Ole Chris Bakken on bass and Falling Greens Jeremy Anderson 05 on drums.
Its hip-hop-infused-piano-trio-grooves-with-pop-style-vocals, Anderson said. Such a style seemed to be what everyone had in mind.
All three band members pounded out funk/dance rhythms with surprising ease, cycling through complex riffs as if they were nothing. Such a style, however, lends itself to being rather repetitive, which became problematic in a handful of the trios songs. That aside, Kantor was especially fun to watch and any of that repetitiveness was tempered by the bands unparalleled skill.
The highlight of their set was when the band flowed into a funked-up version of the Beatles Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Its always a pleasure to hear a different take on a good song.
After enthusiastic applause and an encore, the Joey Kantor Trio left the stage to the evenings headliner, Kubla Khan. Khan, a funk/Chicago-influenced band only recently graduated from St. Olaf College, came out in full force, having the excellent rock sense to open with a self-introduction song. The band is led by Nathan Eklund 95 (keyboards) and Andy Bast 98 (bass) who share vocal duties in front of a full complement of guitar, drums, trombone, trumpet and saxophone. The band has appeared in numerous events around the Twin Cities area, rocking out the Fine Line, The Cabooze and First Ave.
Their sound is most obviously Chicago-influenced, though the playful lyrics and creative organization point to a Beatles influence as well. Add in a funk beat and youve got a band with a pretty interesting sound. Fortunately, a good portion of the Joey Kantor Trio crowd stuck around to hear Khan, for they were most certainly worth a listen.
After an hour or more of music, however, the people began to trickle out until about 20 to 30 people were all that remained. The funk beat, the overly giddy, happy songs and Joey Kantor cameos had run their course half an hour before, so I turned and fled as well.
Though my brain was numb from unchanging beat and driving bass overload, I nonetheless had a good time and would recommend anyone who missed the concert to check Kubla Khan out the next time they can.
The Joey Kantor Trio plays next at Lutefest May 7; you can check out Kubla Khans upcoming gigs at www.kubla-khan.com.