By Jennie Orton
VANCOUVER — Among the many domestic visceral thrills of Vancouver as a city—the zip lines, the suspension bridges, the whale sightings, and the bathrooms at the Cambie—there is the experience of seeing the throbbing behemoth that is Five Alarm Funk. A self-described “pack of howling funk musicians hopped up on tainted ice cream” 12 pieces wide, Five Alarm Funk creates a show that is utterly relentless: a rare unhinged primate turf war that can cause even the most “over it” Vancouver hipster to cash in their fucks-to-give in favour of getting really sweaty.
“The driving force of the group, the energy and the feeling of the passion that we get from the audience is what drives the band,” promises band-leader Tayo Branston. “Together in this harmony of sweat and noise and movement; it makes for a wonderful life.”
This uncool amount of joy and abandon has served Funk well as they have spent the better part of the last decade touring Canada while self-promoting and releasing albums and developing a fan base capable of very successful crowdsourcing ventures; the most recent of which funded their yet untitled new album and their hope of expanding their touring efforts to the Southern States.
The album, set for a spring 2017 release, has been described as “less chaotic” by Branston. “It has some serious pure funk. More in the realm of a dance record than say Abandon Earth, our last record, which was like this heavy metal psychotic gypsy adventure.”
The music released by Five Alarm Funk is a “horn-powered, percussion-fueled sonic and visual assault,” not for the faint of heart or weak of hamstring. It’s a stage full of maniacs: some in gorilla masks, some in lipstick, hardly any fully clothed, soaking their drum stools with tossing orange slices to those pinned against the stage. Even the most ventilated of venues stinks of that smell that was perpetually in your high school boyfriend’s room, sweat and pheromones and enthusiasm and sweet sweet freedom.
“Everybody kind of leaves it at the door at a Five Alarm Funk show,” says Branston. “You’re there for the pure enjoyment of it.”
In a world so full of affected songs and affected singers, it behooves us to attend live Five Alarm Funk shows to remind ourselves what life, hard work, and catharsis really feel like; and to support this band of gypsy baboons and their dream of invading our neighbours to the south and loosening them up in their time of great need.
Five Alarm Funk plays on November 10 at the Imperial.BC, British Columbia, Five Alarm Funk, Imperial Theatre