LIVE: Timbre Coup / Sophistafunk @ Jillian’s, 2/2/12

Review by Pete Mason

The weekly month-long residency of Albany prog-rock band Timbre Coup began last Thursday night with a rare acoustic set, for once having guitarists Dan Gerken and Andrew Chamberlaine, as well as bassist Ben Pickering sitting down for a two-hour-plus performance with Matt Pickering on drums behind them.

In a traditional style, the quartet was very different than their regular plugged-in shows. The change in filters accentuated a Rush-esque sound that was not unlike the equally rare Umphrey’s McGee acoustic sets, in that the show was subdued, and yet still loud and awesome.

Part of me loved the acoustic style of the show, but part of me longed for the regular sound that Timbre Coup puts forth in energetic sets. Fortunately, the best of both worlds is available this month with the band’s residency at Jillian’s, the first of the year from Guthrie/Bell Productions.

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The night opened up with Syracuse’s funk-house trio Sophistafunk, putting forth an inspiring set of house electronica jams. Drummer Emanuel Washington and keyboardist Adam Gold drew the crowd in toward the stage, while Jack Brown rapped on a few originals plus unique covers of both OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” and the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” A headlining spot is all but assured next time they come to town.

Timbre Coup’s set began around 11pm, and a dedicated crowd of fans moved up towards the stage to greet them. The three seated guitarists were focused and communicating in-step changes while Matt bounced in his seat on the drums, focused on the beat and guiding the improv jams. “Z#” incorporated a South Asian sitar sound without having any additional instrumentation for the tune. “August” had a similar Middle Eastern sound and a sick jam out where the “August” improvisations segued into “I Didn’t Know.”

These smooth transitions and the intense crowd reactions are hallmarks of a Timbre Coup show, highlighted by “Spider of Doom;” this turned funky very quickly, with the bass-and-drum brother combo holding down the fort, while the guitars brought new levels to the groove with a jam into February.

Dan announced that they had a treat in store for the crowd, as he headed back to the drums, while Matt moved up to the microphone to sing a pair of ’90s dance numbers – “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, where Matt got the crowd moving from this rare treat before segueing into “Everybody Everybody” by Black Box. The bass and funk were deep as they moved into the title track from their sophomore effort “Check Out This.” The evening was capped with a few older tunes and encored with “Mother Nature’s Baby Daddy.”

Before the encore, the band reminded the audience that the next week of their Jillian’s residency (Thursday, February 9) would be a dance party; followed on Thursday, February 16 with an opening set for Dopapod; before culminating with a CD release party for their new album, “Knuckles & Valleys,” on Thursday, February 23, with Higher Organix in the support slot. All shows are doors at 8pm; shows at 9:30pm.

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