Being a touring band is not always a pleasant experience. Just the other day, Coolio was on “Judge Judy” (I kid you not) defending himself against his opening act. The band was suing Coolio for a van wreck they were in during his tour. It was altogether surreal to see Coolio pleading his case to Judge Judy, especially at one point when Coolio said, “Judge, I just wanna be able to go play my music, and all this,” as he gestured to the assembled losers who actually attend these sessions, “is just a waste of time.”
It would’ve been apropos to shut off the tube just then and put on a disc, but I got to thinking about the situation. For bands on tour, the proportion of time spent playing music to the time spent eating crappy food, traveling in cramped quarters, dealing with all manner of low-lifes (usually including each other), and trying to get a few winks of decent sleep is wildly out of whack.
So when a funk band, like Detroit’s Enemy Squad, make it to Missoula, it must be because they have a great freakin’ time between the shows. And their debut, United State of...Mind, leaves no question that the band is firmly ensconced in the fonkay world of P-Funk, Parliament, and Sly and the Family Stone. How can a band that gets to be so nasty and funky every night avoid having a blast, especially when they’re on the road?
Enemy Squad is one huge band, like all funk bands ought to be. Led by Gabe “Undi$co Kidd” Gonzalez, Enemy Squad boasts quite an impressive funk pedigree. Gonzalez has been drumming with the Squad in addition to his “day job” with George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars for the past several years. Ron Smith is also on Clinton’s list, as the funkmaster’s studio guitarist, and Kerry Clarke is Dr. Dre’s bass player.
The rest of the band, Kevin Hagen on rhythm guitar, and DJ Dez and Law Worrell on vocals, are often supported by the likes of P-Funk regulars, but the band, while owing a good deal to the P-Funk sound, is more diverse, sounding as much like Morris Day and the Time as any funk band.
The title song, “United State of...Mind” is a trippy, slinky piece of laid-back soul, almost too slow to dance to, but fast enough, to, you know, “get nasty, get nasty,” as Enemy Squad urges.
Cripes, I can only imagine what this show is gonna be like, because songs like “Trick Chick Jane” and “Return of the Swamp Thang” are completely out of control. “Trick...” is just plain sweaty, dirty raunch, and “Return...” is a springboard for some seriously twisted guitarisms. Remember Prince’s guitar solo on “Let’s Go Crazy”? Same rad stuff here, folks, only this band is actually gonna be playing in Missoula, unlike Mr. Unpronounceable. Turn the mother out, yo.
Enemy Squad plays the Ritz on Friday, Jan. 21. Tickets $5.