Photos by Kirsten Cohen
Review by Miranda Brooks
We were in the greenroom of Cervantes in Five Points Denver, a room with red walls. The Congress was opening the night –presented by Marquee Magazine as part of their Ten Year Anniversary Party – for San Diego-based band Greyboy Allstars. I heard talks of set list construction and nerves appeared to be not known as anticipation was a more accurate vibe. A man walked into the already crowded space to let folks know it was time to make haste.
The crowd was honestly thin for the opening song. However, those present seemed fully prepared for the three-piece to do what it does best – deliver. Opening with a Curtis Mayfield classic cover “People Get Ready” from their new album, The Congress’ non-common approach to southern styled rock and roll was played with originality. With lyrics like “knocking on your door, you’re waiting like a hundred times before” and “you know the distance between us really aint that far” the boys shredded a little light on love. As always and especially when singling “Killing Me Softly,” lead vocalist and bassist Jonathan Meadows delivered pitch-perfectness with a presence that felt as easy as a Sunday morning.
On “Echoes,” an original track, Mark Levy killed his drum set with sincerity and intensity- channeling a West African Groove before morphing into a New Orleans inspired section that undoubtedly captured the crowd. Lucky for us, Levy resurrected his kit for when the “Walls” come tumbling down; a psychedelic trip that tells a tale of doing most anything and everything. The boys busted out a cover of “Man in the Mirror” before hosting a shred-fest with Robby Peoples as he begged “mama please and sister please don’t marry that man,” and “watch out ‘cause his daddy’s got a shotgun in his hands.” The set closed with Carol King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin On.” The crowd was in full bloom and it felt like we are all friends with the Colorado-inspired awareness of the luck we have in calling The Congress our own.
The veteran band, Greyboy Allstars, took the stage and most certainly held its own with a Denver party crowd; even with Karl Denson, saxophonist, sporting a cardigan. Starting things off with songs containing minimal lyrics like “if you don’t get yourself together/I’ll have to cramp your style” and “feel my grip” it was clear the men had authority as they shaped the direction of the night’s show; a modern day jazz concert. Each player of the five-piece ensemble was heard and seen with style all their own. Forming nearly twenty years ago, Greyboy perhaps has reintroduced, reinvented and revolutionized Acid-Jazz turned Boogaloo turned Jam-Funk. Mixing older, original classics with cuts from their new album Inland Emperor, I was inspired by the professional, polished appearance and sound of the band and slightly in love with the amount of laid back fun resonating from the stage; with Robert Walter on keys having all smiles all night. Song after song the guys gave it all they’ve got. Though, I couldn’t help becoming disappointed as only one or two songs were heard with mere ending seconds of anticipated NOLA inspired funk. Despite the lack of true Louisiana love, Greyboy provided round after round of danceable throw downs. After intermission, Denson discarded his cardigan. It was hot. It was a party. And, honestly, the rest seems to be history.