Wednesday, July 11, 2007

George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars at Bluesfest

Shit. Last night at Bluesfest I feel like I witnessed a small piece of music history. When the P-Funk All-Stars sauntered on-stage and announced that they were gonna rock it like 1979, they weren't joking. Their set was a walk through the roots of funk, hip-hop and even house music. I've never been to a show that covered such a wide scope of musical genres. It was awe-inspiring.

The show really took off after about 35 minutes, when George Clinton finally arrived onstage. Before that, the All-Stars played an array of rock-themed funk, but when the Prime Minister of Funk himself graced us with his presence, the show went into hyper mode.

Whether encouraging the crowd to clap along, or strutting about onstage, the PM commands your attention like very few. I used to think that Manu Chao's was a great performance, but after seeing Clinton and his large entourage perform, there's a new standard in town.

I can see why so many rap and hip-hop artists cite Clinton as one of their prime influences. At one point in the set, the King of Interplanetary Funkmanship informed the crowd that he was once considered a 'gangsta rapper.' And then, he went on to rap for five minutes about how, as one of the originals, he can out-rap any and all comers. It was an amazing concert moment.

Between their mix of James Brown-inspired soul, Parliament-inflected funk and general chaotic energy on stage, Clinton and the All-Stars are a must-see. I'm going to be scouring the local vinyl shops for some of their stuff, but it won't be the same in my living room without Clinton's larger-than-life presence.

One last thing. During their show last night, Clinton had two local breakdancers perform onstage. Buddha and Ben Jammin' put on a wicked display, much to the delight of the crowd and Clinton, who gave them each a huge hug after their work. This was a classy moment, on a memorable night.