Last Thursday I went down to my favourite Ottawa venue, The Rainbow Bistro, to check out Toronto up-and-comers After Funk. Not only was I treated to an excellent performance from the headliner, but I was also fortunate enough to discover the Ottawa hip-hop band known as BlakDenim. This excellent pairing of Canadian musicians made for a night packed with funk, jazz, hip-hop, soul, and plenty of dirt-riddled jams.
BlakDenim kicked the show off with power and energy, and they refused to relent until their set ended. This big band focused around frontman Precise Kenny Creole’s crisp and fluid rap, using thought-provoking lyrics and quick, varied rhythm to keep the crowd fully engaged. His vocals were contrasted by soul-pop singer Erin Tomkins, who delivered beautiful vibrato hooks and melodies. Surrounding the vocalists was an incredibly tight rhythm section. These guys gave their brand of hip-hop a heavy dose of intensity and emotion. Laced with funk and jazz, the backgrounds really set BlakDenim apart from your average hip-hop show. BlakDenim is the complete package. If you’re looking passionate lyrics, infectious rhythms, expertly layered instrumentals, or simply something to move your feet to, this is a band you have to check out.
If you are so inclined, BlakDenim will make a return as the headliner at The Rainbow Bistro on August 16. Go see them, and pick up their new EP, you won’t regret it.
The completely unexpected performance by BlakDenim almost made me forget what I had came for. After Funk was waiting patiently for an opportunity to burn down the barn, and when their time finally arrived they made sure to do just that. This Toronto band has absolutely no shortage of talent, with every member bringing a prominent voice to the mix. Soulful vocals, warbling organs, shredding guitar, dirty bass, rich saxophone, snappy drumming, and deliciously funky rhythm guitar all came together to bind jazz fusion, soul, rock, and most importantly funk, in a diverse and filthy jam set. After Funk Originals mixed with covers from James Brown, The Commodores, and Parliament Funkadelic to create a setlist that forced me to dance every moment of the show. Deep rhythmic cycling would give way to a gorgeous solo from the keys, guitar or sax that delighted my senses. Dirty is the only proper way to sum up a show like the one put on by After Funk. There is no doubt that I will be catching these guys again next time around.