Thursday Night Funk- Pho Sells Out 7th Street Entry


Like usual, after a couple of nights off, I was craving a show. I didn’t care what show, I just needed to get to a show. The world has gone crazy, life has been stressful, I needed a release and my release is live music. So I headed downtown to see something that I normally wouldn’t go see. Sure, there were other options as far as shows go but I wanted something different and that’s exactly what I got.

My friend and I walked up to the 7th Street Entry as soon as doors opened. I made my way through security, got my wristband and stamp and waited for my friend to join me. As he went up to the ticket booth to snag his ticket he was greeted with a denied entry. Apparently the show had literally just sold out. I have to be honest, I was shocked. This was a local show of bands that, although amazing, I had no idea had the ability to sell out a show on a Thursday night. That being said, I was ecstatic to see such hard working local bands get a sold out show. To make my friend’s trip downtown worth it, we headed to a bar down the street for a couple. I felt bad when I left him to head home so I could get to the show but, hey, I wanted a show and nothing was going to stop me.

I made it inside just in time for the second band of the night- Black Market Brass. (My apologies to openers Purple Funk Metropolis for missing their set but I felt so bad my friend had made the trek from the burbs to the cities and had to spend some time with him.) BMB is so much more than just a brass band. They mix afro-funk elements with what you would expect from a brass band and then tie it up in a beautiful bow of energy. Having seen these guys a couple of times now, it never seizes to amaze me how fine tuned they are and, even when playing a couple of new songs last night, you could easily see that they were well rehearsed and notes were placed and play with a sense of perfection.

Even with the sense of musical perfection that BMB has, there’s no denying the show stopping element of personality that this ten piece group has. (Yeah, were you ever wondering how many people you could fit on the stage at little ol’ 7th Street Entry? The answer would be ten.) Trumpet player Cameron Kinghorn had an infectious smile and dorky way of dancing that had the entire crowd going. Although he seemed to be the ringleader of the group, every single band member on that stage had a huge smile on their face as they danced their way through the set.

As band members went in and out of the spotlight for their solos, the crowd hooted and hollered for the band members and friends that were producing this amazing music. Percussionist David Tullis kept the beat steady on the hand drums alongside drum kit drummer Murphy Janssen. I loved just standing in the back and picking out certain lines of notes or beats as the music went on. It was hard to not get lost in it all because there was so much to catch. Every second was like a new song to me as I tried to hone in on a certain member. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and just as I started to warm up to the idea of dancing around a bit, the stage was being turned over for the final band.

Closing out the night was local funk favorites- Pho. I love these guys. I always have and I probably always will. Sure, funk music isn’t my thing to listen to on a daily basis but, when watching funk music be played, I get a feeling in my bones that I don’t get from other shows. It’s a feeling where all other stresses in your life fall to wayside and you are left with an undeniable urge to dance. When you give in, you end up having a Thursday night that feels more like a Saturday night that you never want to end.

Pho, much like BMB, blends far too many different musical genres and elements to list but they have come up with this special blend of funk music that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. The energy in the completely sold out room was absolutely beautiful and so easy to get lost in. As I watched the band, I was getting bumped by strangers on the dance floor but I couldn’t have been happier. There was a matching smile on everyone’s face that just screamed “I am so happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing with who I’m with.” It was one of those feelings that you only get at certain shows and proves that, even with a bunch of other shows going on in town, you picked the right one to bet at.

Their set was packed with funky beats, rhythms, and strings of notes. Like BMB, you could see the concentration on the members’ faces but you could also feel this sense of informality radiating from the stage. Although extremely talented, the members of Pho don’t take themselves too seriously and, like the crowd, seemed to just be trying to having a good time. The crowd cheered as saxophonist Aaron Levine walked across the stage to a different microphone and whipped out a flute for one of the first songs. Having seen them a couple of times now, it was no shock to me but I loved the response it got out of the crowd.

Pho is one of those hard working bands that I honestly hope is the next group to break out of the Twin Cities. I’ve watched these guys grow as a band and have loved every step along the way. With a couple of tours in the books at this point and a string of out of town shows coming up this fall, it wouldn’t be too much a stretch to say that this local funk band is truly doing it and turning heads as they do.

The world may be going a bit crazy and there’s no denying that we live in a scary time but there are still bright spots to be found. Thursday night that bright spot was at The 7th Street Entry as I watched and listened to funk music.