by Chloe Pappas
***Friday, November 4th was a dark and stormy night in Hollywood, which meant that the sunset strip, usually adorned with high heels, mini skirts, long hair and leather, would be completely dead and full of empty parking spaces. Fortunately with something funky brewing on the horizon, the legendary Brides of Funkenstein would take the stage @ the Whisky a Go Go around 12:30am. The initially downtrodden crowd realized they had “no reason not to funk,” as encouraged by lead singer Dawn Silva, whose presence had caused that original crowd to double in size adding a multitude of costumed hippies to the morose bunch of rockers.
The 11 piece band comprised of five singers, highlighting original bride Dawn Silva and accompanying lead vocalist Jeanette Washington. Three powerful backup singers held down stage left with a vamping sax, spreading out to 2 guitarists, keys, bass and drums–every one of them donning their flashiest swag in true P-Funk style with red feather boas, sequined garments, and multicolored wigs including the female guitarists epic jumbo version of George Clinton’s mad hatter with dreads attached, and Silva following suit.
The night was still young and very alive as the group kicked off the set with Funkadellic’s “We Want The Funk” with a very hard hitting intro, quickly bringing all of the upstairs crowd to it’s feet and littering the air with i-phones and androids reflecting off of the brides illustrious get ups, creating a disco ball effect. By the third song, the brides revved into their classic catalogue, holding it down hard with “Party Up In Here.” This included a call and response breakdown between Dawn, the bridesmaids and the crowd, who’s median age must have been about 25, meaning the brides must be reaching further than their original funk fan roots.
The next couple songs including Dawn’s “Old School Funk” from her 2000 release, All My Funky Friends. The ladies revamped Parliaments “On The One” and the classic “Standing on the Verge” were all built on a foundation of sinister, diabolical bass and synth lines mixed with low vocoder refrains, gang vocals and Blackbyrd McNight’s unmistakable distorted guitar that has been integral to the P-Funk sound. At the end of ” Standing on the verge” the drummer, a newer member of the band, took a face-melting solo with his tinsel disco sticks and cymbals, oddly placed about three feet above his head, with extreme dexterity, making for a spectacular show-stopper.
Immediately following “Standing on the Verge”, came such classics like ” Dr Funkenstein, ” (from which the group mythos was conceptualized in the ’70s) “Get Up for the Downstroke,” “Mothership Connection” and in respect to Dawn’s foundations as a backup singer for in Sly Stone & The Family Band, did their memorable tune “Take You Higher” which truly showcased the five part vocal prowess of each of the Brides, as well as including a well placed harmonica solo. These original anthems had the crowd shaking off the rain and keeping the room steamy all night.
To close out the sensational evening, the group performed the Bride’s own ” Disco To Go” featuring the lone sax player in a groove oriented breakdown solo, and synth lines quoted from later funk rivals such as Don Blackman’s “You Ain’t Hip,” making for a hard hitting head-home number peppered with familiar lines and vocoder parts from mothership connection and “Standin On The Verge,” bringing the funky little night full circle. Rain or shine, there is truly no reason not to funk.
In personal reflection, it’s refreshing to see women slay these classics with as much authenticity as the P-Funk allstars we know and love, handling the phallic nature of funk in their own way, without losing authenticity. Women like this rule the world, and are a force to be reckoned with….