The Dead Kenny G’s
March 11, 2011
When searching for a source of pure punk-jazz-funk exploratory madness, it’s hard to find a better source than the Dead Kenny G’s.Â The music fans in attendance that have been exposed to the full tilt freak out that is the DKG experience knew what they were in for, but for the new and uninitiated at Lexington’s Cosmic Charlie’s, the frothing frenzy to come would surely prove to be a revelatory experience by the night’s close.
The trio of madmen turned saxophonist (Skerik), percussionist super talent (Mike Dillon) and multi-instrumentalist (Brad Houser) on sax and bass brought the sound of three crazed caged animals, rattling their cages to their breaking point and beyond.Â Heavier than any three men have the right to be, the trio can also drop in true free jazz and melodic interludes that can cause neck injury from the whip fast tempo changes.Â Add in special guest for the evening Freakbass and the ingredients for a full recipe of complete mayhem were all included.
Cosmic Charlie’s is located a few short blocks from the campus of the University of Kentucky’s dorms. Hence it is notorious for filling up quickly with adventure seeking music fans.Â On this evening, said thrill seekers got Â exactly what they bargained for, or perhaps more as the Dead Kenny G’s took the stage.
Skerik led the charge, howling through his sax and head banging to the heavy metal thunder being laid down by the rhythm section of Dillon and Houser. In under filament to Skerik’s high end cutting of the sound wave spectrum, Houser held down the bottom. Performing double duty, he would often back up Skerik on sax as wellâ€”allowing for flights of fancy beyond any sense of the norm.
When it comes to keeping time, or exploring the reaches that percussion can achieve, Dillon has shown an ability to play any and all percussive instruments put in front of him. From bongos to xylophone to a standard kit, Mike D is an expert on them all. Playing in multiple time signatures, he also contributed his voice to the mix, freestyle rapping and shouting vocals that ranged the diversity spectrum of topicsâ€”from prostitution to sunshine.
Enter: Freekbass. Bringing his signature slapping style and adding a new flavor to the bubbling mix, a new spice for the stew as it was, he joined Houser for an improvisational bass-off to close the set that may still have the foundation reverberating days later.
The second set was more structured and melodic, but still had the trademark undertone of lurking insanity for which the band is known.Â A cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” and a selection of songs from the recently released new album, Operation Long Leash, were met with fantastic enthusiasm.Â Taking the set in a decidedly heavier direction, they decided to cover the preeminent cover of the aforementioned cover with The Butthole Surfers song “Sweat Loaf.” Â With this, Freekbass was welcomed back to the stage for some more dual bass heaviness.Â The crowd packed forward and by the end had nearly completely drawn onto the stage itself, as moths would to an apocalyptic flame.
In a survey, the crowd’s participation was beckoned-being asked if they “wanted a slice of funk or [more of] the demon metal thunder”â€”the aggressive crowd demanded that the heaviness not stop and further pushed toward the stage.
Ending the evening on a high note, the band and their guest let go of any and all tethers to reality and went on a roaming jam that circled the sonic areas staked out by the players; each taking a moment to add something over the top to the collage. In the end, it somehow fit together…proving that through all of the soloing and seemingly incoherent screams and wails, the band never lost touch with the sound that was manifesting.
In point of fact, that was the most impressive thing about the night’s performance.Â When artists make the impossible sound true while seemingly throwing every standard out with little reason or rhyme, yet manage to slip into a cool jazz groove without missing a beatâ€”abandoning structure completely for a interlude of solo expression then dive back in again like an oiled machineâ€”there is little else to do but cheer.
Even folks who are not generally fans of this type of exhibition were left with nothing but the highest praises for the spectacle they had just witnessed. Bringing the humanity to the proceedings, directly after the set, the band went to work, shaking hands and thanking all the fans who had come out to hear the show, and all were the better for the experience.