Lettuce recently kicked off their Mt. Crushmore tour, bringing it Sunday night to none other than The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. There may be a whole list of reasons that the Capitol is a great place to see a Lettuce set, but at the very least it’s because the legendary venue’s unbeatable, rich sound perfectly compliments Lettuce’s larger than life, blaring wall of funk.
The band wasted no time starting the party for their expectant crowd, opening up with “Blaze,” and then the Soul Vibrations’ “The Dump,” a classy-funky couple of tunes in which horn players Ryan Zoidis and Benny Bloom made a strong showing from the get-go.
Lettuce shows of late seem to be more psychedelic-friendly than ever before, and a number of tunes from this night plunged well into the reaches of spacey, effects-laden improv. This came quick into the first set, as the classic two-song swing of “The Force -> “Phyllis” ventured way out with some deep, trilling space. Then, later in the second set, “Purple Cabbage” restored this trippy atmosphere, chilling out the heat of the night quite nicely.
But, for the rest of the show, the night was boiling as the eight-piece powerhouse delivered on their ability to keep their crowd moving song after song. It helps that they boast some of the crunchiest and sexiest funk riffs around, funneled constantly by Eric Coomes’ endlessly groovy bass lines.
It also helps that every member of the band brings spot-on chops to any particular song, so that they’re ready at any random moment to shine in the spotlight. Adam Deitch headed off some hot momentum on “Lettsanity,” with a drum break to close set one with a bang, and then later on dueled with Zoidis on “Sam Huff,” creating a two-part breakdown for one of the show’s coolest moments. Adam Smirnoff always finds his moments to do the frontman spot right. Midway through “Chief,” he donned some guitar effects to top off his terrific soloing.
Krasno, by contrast, kept with a tradition of playing more so in the background, lending his chops to jams in subtle ways, that you’d have to strain your brain to hear. However, the modern-day legend did take the helm a few times, for a few unforgettable moments. On “Last Suppit” he threw down some serious soloing to bring that song up to an exciting head, and then later the guitarist helped curveball the heat of “Sam Huff” into a bluesy finish.
Similarly, “Ready to Live” shined from two angles in particular, with Zoidis dropping his finest sax solo of the night, and Nigel Hall rocking the vocals as smoothly as he does they keys. Nigel also helped tip the energy over the edge during the encore, simultaneously amping up the crowd and band, which welcomed a sit-in from Deshawn “D Vibes” Alexander on keys, on “Do It Like You Do.”
The Mt. Crushmore Tour continues on Wednesday, hitting the Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis and then making it’s way through the Midwest and West.
Photos and article by Miles Hurley
Set I: Blaze, The Dump, The Bowler, The Force -> Phyllis, Last Suppit, Does Your Mama Know, Breakout, Lettsanity
Set II: Mt. Crushmore -> 116th St, Chief, Purple Cabbage -> Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine, Slippin’ Into Darkness -> Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), Ready To Live, Get Greazy
E: Do It Like You Do*
*w/ Deshawn “D Vibes” Alexander on keys