By Nick Cannon Photos by Ryan Jacobs
February 8, 2015
The music that BoomBox creates has been described as nearly every term in the book. Electronica, jam, house and psychedelic rock are just a few of the terms people use when discussing the duo who originated out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Lead vocalist and guitar player Zion Godchaux himself describes the music of Boombox simply as their “interpretation of rock and roll.” Frankly, I’m not sure there is a perfect term for describing the product that BoomBox produces in studio and on stage. I do know one thing though; it works.
This was overwhelmingly evident by the sea of entranced concert-goers surrounding the stage this past Thursday night at The Chop Shop. One of the best parts of seeing live music is being able to pay attention to the crowd. You can learn a lot about a show from observing those surveying the performance. The most notable characteristic of this particular crowd was the insanely high concentration of people dancing almost suspiciously in sync. The spine of BoomBox’s songs is a soft, inescapable thudding bass line that can be felt deep in one’s chest. Tonight, the giant beating heart of the bass shook and moved the crowd, plastering faces with smiles and jubilation. When seeing BoomBox live, it is almost impossible to not groove and gyrate with the funk riddled, spacey sounds produced by members Russ Randolph and Zion Godchaux.
Photo by Ryan Jacobs
Around 11:00 pm the group emerged on stage wearing their traditional musical uniforms, Randolph in his signature top hat and Zion with his ever present pink fuzzy hat, glasses and boa. If you’ve never seen them live or heard their music then those outfits might make them seem almost whimsical, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The pair wore a look of earnest tenacity and were a vision of professionalism. These are not a few guys drinking beer and casually rocking on stage, rather the members of Boombox approach their live shows with an almost surgical level of precision. The entire night Godchaux smiled only twice. That isn’t to say that he’s not having fun, but these two clearly take their work seriously, nurturing the music and movement of the crowd with an utmost respect.
After very little fanfare they clocked in and went to work, diving right into the first song of the night, “Showboat.” The crowd heartily approved and showed it with their simultaneous rocking to the beat. Next came crowd favorite “Mr. Boogieman” from sophomore album Downriverlelectric. The audience and lights pulsed as Zion’s surprisingly smooth voice and lyrics floated nimbly across the room. Boombox creates their unique music by carefully stacking layer after catchy layer of sound, creating a genre all their own. Godchuax has been quoted as saying they are “weaving the song into a kind of fabric.” The musical weaving continued as they showcased a solid combination of old and new material off of their new Kickstarter-funded album Filling in The Color. BoomBox famously never uses setlists, rather they choose songs based on the crowds reactions. On Thursday, The Chop Shop’s twisting and grooving fans warranted old favorites such as “Stereo,” “India,” and the intoxicatingly smooth “500 Miles,” while sprinkling in some of their newer cuts such as “Lost Ya,” “Waiting Around,” “Round and Round” and “Watergun.”
About halfway through the show, Randolph left the “onstage office” of turntables, sequencers and other futuristic looking equipment and set down at a drum set located center stage. The pair launched into a little number that they’ve been calling “Drum Dub.” The end result was a powerful combination of drum solo, guitar, drum machine and feverishly dancing lights. The pair showed just how well they mentally communicate by improvising a crisp call-and-response performance of percussion and electronic beat, which was not only an audible pleasure but also wildly entertaining.
With a nearly nonexistent break, the band played until 1:30 in the morning, all the while the seemingly tireless crowd danced hypnotically. Capping a wonderful evening, the duo closed with a perfect performance of “Watergun.” When it was over they left without much fanfare or flourish, the same businesslike attitude prevailing until the end. Just another great day at the office.