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Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday: Bootsy Collins Rains Down Love on the Fillmore

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 8:38 AM

click to enlarge Bootsy Collins - ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
  • Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins
June 4, 2011

Fillmore Auditorium

Better than: Piling

mounds of funk in your living room and awaiting the arrival of the Mothership.

We got in line early for this much-anticipated exercise in

total-immersion funk, despite warnings that buckets of rain could drench the

city any second. Arrayed in a ragged line down Geary Street were variegated

players of some far-receding year or other, plus their sightly dates, plus

a number of punky kids. Within this multiracial monument to sartorial

funkitude, my Soviet-era officer's jacket made me look like just one more of

the temporally displaced. Bystanders inquiring after the reason for all this

heterodox devotion got the answer: "Bootsy!"

Soon, the founding funkateer's name rang up and down the street like a mantric

word-bomb until they finally let us in.

click to enlarge Bootsy Collins - ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
  • Bootsy Collins

After five years of relative inactivity, Bootsy Collins is back on the road supporting a new album called Tha Funk Capital of the World. Arguably better known than P-Funk mentor George Clinton, Collins is the last, loudest, and best-loved James Brown disciple, and it was plain from the folks crowding the stage that such nights as these come but seldom to the faithful.

The hour stretched, ambient temperatures rose, and the P.A. offloaded a lot of Sly & the Family Stone tunes while the masses grew restless and cries went up for "Boot-SAY!" Anon wriggled out three Bootsy girls who made a brief pitch for the great man's multifarious good works before another longish interval. There was more and louder hollering, which, by 9:30, became downright irritable. Suddenly the house lights shut off and a lugubrious voice began to intone a sermon, the sense of which -- "One is not a lonely number when it contains the essence of all that is" -- brought stupendous cheers. A baker's dozen of musicians filed out, among them first-wave P-Funkateers Bernie Worrell and Frankie "Kash" Waddy, and a thumping fanfare over Bootzilla's entrance went on until the star strode out, grinning hugely as the iconic Space Bass was strapped to him.

click to enlarge ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado

Over the next two hours, the band kept up a unite-the-people gloryhallacupid funk revival. It was easily the most emotional concert I've seen in a long, long time; not least because of the raw, Saturday night church spirituality of a music devoted to the One in all its multifarious singularity. The setlist handed us by backup singer Kyle "Ice" Jason doesn't account for the joyous sampling of nearly every old P-Funk tune associated with Collins, as well as familiar Rubber Band tracks and newer stuff, all tailored around the man and his message. "I had a realization of a nation that just rains down the funk," he intoned. "No war, no hate, nothing political."

click to enlarge Kyle "Ice" Jason - ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
  • Kyle "Ice" Jason

The old-timey revue style format allowed the star a few of his characteristically ludicrous costume changes. It was after one such when Collins threw the horn for a long minute, soaking up love and shrieks before quipping "Twinkle, twinkle baby" and announcing his imminent descent into the audience. He waved guards away, declaring "The people are my security," and stepped down, glad-handing and dancing around the wide auditorium like the Funky President. Big gusts of marijuana blasted skyward as Collins yelled "Legalize it!" while the band piled into "Stretchin' Out," his imperial vision of an elastic funk bungeed across the land. After that came a long medley of hits that ended with the amazingly sweet gesture of everyone onstage reaching out their fingers to touch the audience. This went over better than any encore. The star scribbled autographs on old vinyl as he began his slow procession offstage. "Take me with you, Bootsy!" yelled the guy next to me, seemingly unaware he'd done just that.

click to enlarge ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
Overheard: Collins: "Your health takes care of itself when you're funkin' right."


Spreading Hope Like Dope
Ahh ... The Name Is Bootsy Baby
The Pinocchio Theory
Hollywood Squares
Bernie String Theme
Purple Haze
Red Hot Mama
Yummy, I Got The Munchies
Don't Take My Funk
One Nation Under a Groove
Razor Interlude
Stretchin' Out in a Rubber Band
Touch Somebody
Hits Medley


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