The Hampton Funk Fest, which took place Saturday Nov. 19 at Hampton Coliseum, didn't deliver a knock-out punch, but it got in a few good licks. Musically speaking, the show was very entertaining. The audience, though, was smaller than anticipated.
[Use this link to see a photo gallery of pictures taken at the concert.]
Coliseum staff said the show -- which featured a strong lineup of Brass Construction, Midnight Star, Chuck Brown and George Clinton with Parliament-Funkadelic -- drew a crowd of about 3,000. Organizers had planned for at least a few thousand more.
Still, on Monday morning, Coliseum director Joe Tsao was describing the event as a qualified success. "The vibe was really good and I've gotten nothing but good feedback about it," Tsao said. "People had a wonderful time ... You saw people up and dancing throughout the show."
Tsao said the concert pulled in a somewhat larger crowd than last year's inaugural Hampton Funk Fest, which featured acts including Morris Day and The Time, Lakeside and A Taste of Honey.
"I'll do it again," Tsao said. "We'll try something a little different with next year's date. But I think it's a winner."
Midnight Star's energetic set ramped up the energy of the show after the big band Brass Construction laid the foundation for the night's fun. Solid singing and liberal doses of the keytar (that keyboard-meets-guitar instrument beloved in the 1980s) helped the group's set produce smiles. Midnight Star's electrofunk has aged surprisingly well.
The band ended its set with "No Parking (On the Dance Floor)," which got the crowed up on its feet. The musicians left the stage without playing the hit "Freak-a-Zoid," a disappointment to funk fans who grew up in the Spandex-and-muscle shirt '80s.
Chuck Brown's set started in slow, sexy mode, but steadily built steam thanks to a slamming rhythm section that feature Kenny "Kwickfoot" Gross and a horn line that was as tight as a tick. Trumpet player Brad Clements, a 12-year veteran of Brown's band, played some hot solos. Brown's singing voice was deep and textured on slower, romantic songs. Unfortunately, his vocals were lost in the mix on the uptempo jams.
With so many acts on the bill, sets were relatively short and Brown seemed as if he was just getting warmed up by the time he played an abbreviated version of his hit "Bustin' Loose," and left the stage.
That left Parliament-Funkadelic to provide the night's climax. George Clinton's big band was characteristically loose and fun, pumping out stomping jams and guitar workouts even before Clinton joined them under the bright lights.
Even if the festival's draw was weaker than expected, funk fans who turned out seemed to get exactly what they wanted: a night of freaky, old-school freedom and a soulful strut down memory lane.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun