George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic graced New Orleans by bringing the funk to Tipitina’s for two back-to-back concerts last Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to see anyone other than Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic perform anywhere else, other than in the city of New Orleans, or with anyone else other than my dad, for my first funk concert experience.
I attribute my love for most all genres of music (except country, and trust me, I’ve given it so many chances and still haven’t found the appeal) to two things: my dad and road trips. My family took lots of road trips when I was growing up, and as far back as my memory takes me, I can vividly remember him playing certain albums over and over. From Prince to Sting, the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Ziggy Marley, and almost everything else in between, whether he knew it or not, he was nurturing my little ears to love it all. And here I am, age 22, still loving it all.
Of the plethora of albums my dad would play for me, I’d have to say that he blasted his Parliament Funkadelic the most. In fact, I think I could build a case arguing that my dad is one of George Clinton’s biggest fans. He has a George Clinton autobiography I often spot next to his nightstand, and I’m pretty sure one of his favorite hobbies is watching recorded Funkadelic concerts on YouTube. He’d share stories from the many concerts he’d attended over the years, and I’d just listen to them with jealousy; being that George Clinton is 76 years old, I was pretty confident that I’d never get the opportunity to see him live. I’ve never been so pleased to be wrong. Seeing Clinton and the funk mob play lived up to all the hype I’d gotten from my dad over the years.
Clinton and the other 15 or so mob members present at the show didn't skip a beat. Opening with "BUTT- TO- BUTTRESUSCITATION” from the 1976 Funkadelic album titled Tales of Kidd Funkadelic and following with the P-Funk anthem “Cosmic Slop,” the funk mob was on its way to giving the crowd the groove they were seeking. Throughout the show, they peppered the crowd with older hits such as “Parliament Classic” and “Up for the Down Stroke,” as well as staples such as “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Knee Deep,” and “Flashlight.” They also played some newer songs such as "I'm Gonna Make You Sick" and "Ain't That Funkin Kinda Hard on You?"
Over the years, the Funk mob has consisted of a great number of musicians and singers. Some of the original members such as Eddie Hazel, Glen Goins, Bernie Worrell, and Gary Shider are no longer with us. Although those members are gone, there are still original members keeping the funk alive such as Mike Hampton, Michael Payne, Bootsy Collins, and Blackbird McNight. In fact, about mid-show, Blackbird killed the crowd with a guitar solo playing “Maggot Brain,” another Funkadelic classic.
Gary Shider’s son, Garrett Shider (who looks and sounds a lot like his father), now fills his void and led a few songs at the show. Clinton also introduced some of his grandchildren as newer members to the funk mob. They rapped and performed heavy metal solos as Clinton hyped the crowd up for them while he rested in a chair on stage. His encouragement was symbolic. It was almost as if he was insinuating to the crowd, “Hey, I know you love me, but this is the future generation of P-Funk that you can look forward to loving, too.”
The most beautiful part of the show for me was seeing that the energy and eclecticism from the mob on stage almost mirrored the energy and eclecticism of the crowd. There were single people, married couples, people of various races, people my age, people Clinton’s age, people matching members of the mob on stage by dressing in costume and sequins, while others were dressed in button-downs and heels. Regardless of differences, there was a common theme among attendees: there wasn’t a single moment that I saw anyone still. All in attendance were moving or grooving in some type of way. The funk was contagious, making it impossible to stay still. From the girl on my left who I twirled and danced with for hours without having exchanged words, to the couple on my right that grinded and grooved in their own world, we were all connected through the funk. After three straight hours, Parliament ended the show with a giant dance party, inviting members of the crowd on stage.
I think if I had to describe my first funk concert in five words, it would be: “One Nation Under a Groove.” Clinton announced that he will be back in New Orleans in March. I won’t miss it for the world, and I highly suggest that you don’t, either!