This past Saturday Night we attended a homegrown festival in South Wales, NY called Toadfest 7. It was the 7th Annual camping/music night, put together by Michael Szczepanik and hosted by his friend, Zach Todtenhagen. Mike is guitarist and singer from the MKG’s, a local Buffalo, NY funky psychedelic jam band, who were also featured in the lineup for the night. The day started out pretty rainy, but no ones hopes were dashed. When it was time for the music, all of which were local bands out of Buffalo, NY, all clouds had subsided, and we had some of our first glimpses of the sun.
The music kicked off about 6:15pm with Imperial Brown, an experimental jam band who perform jazz/funk instrumentals featuring a great rhythm section consisting of Tom Danat of the Twin City Kings on bass and Brad Darrall, original drummer from Aqueous, guitarist Rob Bocklehurst, also from the Twin City Kings, who also dabbles in the keyboards, and saxophonist Rob Browning, also at times manning the boards. After a short soundcheck jam, they kicked off their first ever show with a funky guitar led jam called “Chameleon.” Next they played a great “Pink Panther Theme” with a great progressive dance jam sandwiched in between. They followed that up with a long Phish medley including great takes on classics “First Tube,” “Ghost” and a “Tweezer Reprise” thrown in there to wrap the jam up. Following a decent take on the David Bowie hit “Space Oddity,” featuring Bocklehurt on the keys for part. They finished up their set with an original tune called “Fortified,” a pretty funky jam with a really nice groove. This was a pretty tight show for the band, being their first, and I hope to see them playing more around town in the near future! Saxophonist Rob Browning wasn’t finished for the night though, as he joined Funktional Flow shortly after for the next set of music at Toadfest. Flow kicked their set off with some reggae, dropping the tune “Mulligans” on us, featuring a great progressive jam toward the end, that had the crowd really moving. They followed up with “Scenes Surrounding” and “Downtown,” with Browning showing his chops on sax on the latter, adding some great stuff to the song. “Ambush” was up next, another reggae/Sublime flavored tune that morphed into a high paced jam with bassist Ben Whelan and guitarist/singer Jeff Kuebler feeding off each others energy. Both Whelan and Kuebler were on fire in this jam, with Whelan giving his bass a real beatdown and Kuebler really shredding beautifully. Next was another Kuebler led jam, the upbeat “Puzzle Piece,” that weaves in and out of some heavy jams and had bassist Whelan dropping some killer sliding bass on us, the real backbone of the song. At the end of the song, Whelan broke a string on his bass and had to borrow another to finish the set. The next two songs, “Elephant” and “Teleportation” both featured guitarists/singers, Jason Staniszewski and Jeff Kuebler sharing vocals.
The first tune had another reggae type groove to it, and the other a tale of the miles of road between Buffalo and New York City. With no stop at all they were into Flow regular “Moonlight Mile,” just as the sun was setting on South Wales, it was the perfect song for the moment, and one of those tunes you can count on being solid every time. “Gunther the Sabretooth” was next, featuring some really amazing sax layering out of Rob Browning, his best of the night. After that was a take on The Beatles “Norwegian Wood,” except Funktional Flow put their own trademark spin on it, dubbing it “Norwegian Trance,” and having the crowd, including the kids, really dancing to it. They ended their set with an awesome cover of “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, another crowd pleaser and Flow regular. A great way to end their set, leaving the bar set high for Universe Shark, up next. The sun had finally fully set, and it was time for Universe Shark, a local 4 piece funk jam band, who brand themselves “Carnivorous Space Funk,” and they definitely bring it. The lighting rig was in full effect, with it finally being dark enough to fully enjoy the light show. They kicked off their set with Shark original “Among Other Things,” a funky jam, mostly led by keyboardist Scott Martin also featuring a beautiful muddy, spacey guitar solo toward the end. Another original “Scagglin’ Bagglin” was next, a really funky tune, led by guitarist Adam Bronstein. After that they were into their first tune with vocals, “If You Read The News,” another great guitar section featured toward the end of that song as well. From there, they headed into a near perfect take on the Meters funky classic “Looka PyPy,” really showing the band’s tightness, especially the rhythm section, with Mike DiSalvo on bass and Dave Prinzbach on drums. “Looka PyPy” also had some amazing keyboards throughout and Bronstein really ripping on guitar at times. “Waiting For Something To Shine” was next, a very soulful, yet positive and upbeat tune, which segued into “Breath Of Fresh Air,” a long form groove that had sort of reminded me of Medeski, Martin and Wood. They then played another sandwiched grouping of tunes “Congroovent Angles,” a jazzy jam, again featuring the solid rhythm section of Shark, segueing into “Badfeet,” an original, yet again, very reminiscent of the Meters type of funk. They rounded out their set with an awesome, spot on, cover of Phish’s “Cars, Trucks and Buses,” giving the crowd ample reason to dance. If you’re into funk, I highly recommend seeing these guys, their next show around Buffalo is at DBGB’s on July 13th. Next on the bill was the MKG’s, and then Slip Madigan played a Late Night Set until almost 3am, both of which will be covered in Part 2 of BuffaloJams Review of Toadfest 7 in South Wales, NY.