Orgone has been one of those elusive bands for me this year. They’ve played headlining gigs, opened for Galactic and made a stop at Sundance, and I missed every show, for one reason or another. You’d think the hype and the longing would build a wall of anticipation that no band could high-jump over, but no -- Orgone brought the funk and brought it hard.
The Los Angeles-based octet, fronted, at times, by the fabulous, humble diva Fanny Franklin, played a raucous and well-rounded set that lasted over two hours. They hit it with funk, afrobeat and hard jazz so hard that you wouldn’t have thought that they woke up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to SLC to start their two month tour. The band’s soulful flare takes cues from legends like The Meters or Booker T, and can be compared to contemporary acts like The Budos Band and Galactic.
After revving up the crowd with “The Last Fool” and “It’s What You Do” the latter off of 2007’s Killion Floor, Franklin unveiled herself from behind the stage to sing on “Funky Nassau” by The Beginning of the End. After helping the band cover this tune in 2001, she was brought on full-time; the track shows off the power of her pipes, in addition to just how nasty Orgone can swagger. Franklin would sing a couple of tunes and disappear, only to reemerge to shouts and encouragement; this happened several times throughout the evening.
Each player in turn, however, wasn’t to be outdone. Seeming as the bandleader, Sergio Rios, with ‘fro kickin’ and his feet never still, played a funky, mean guitar. Also worth note was the bongo tappin’ Stewart Killen, whose syncopated slaps put the pop in everyone’s hips for the evening. And, yes, the dance floor, for a Monday night, was lively and sweaty by the evening’s end.
Other notable moments were mostly pulled from Killion Floor (despite the band releasing two albums in 2010), like “Who Knows Who?” “Hambone” and “Do Your Thing." The band came out for the encore—minus Franklin and the horn section—to cover a Booker T tune, which Rios stated as one of the reasons the band came together and does what they do. As Orgone’s popularity swells and their repertoire expands, who knows, maybe funk bands in 2040 will be covering their numbers.