BROOKLYN, NY—“Well well,” Karl Denson opens the third and final night of the band’s tour opening run at Brooklyn Bowl. The first two nights had been packed, highlights including a guest appearance from Big Daddy Kane and Rahzel on Thursday and Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville on Friday.
The group launches into a full force explosion of horns and rhythm, guitar and keys, and the packed crowd starts to move. The audience is comprised of the kind of composite crowd typical at a Tiny Universe show. Dready kids mix with clean-cut marketing types, along with a wider range of skin tone than is typically seen in certain parts of Brooklyn these days.
The opening songs were energetic, leg-stretching numbers, counting among them a composition by guitarist DJ Williams called “Everybody Knows That” and Karl Denson original, “Satisfied.”
The first guest of the evening, Zach Deputy, the Georgian multi-instrumentalist who’s been joining KDTU on tour as the lead vocalist for their Ray Charles tribute, wound down the stairs to join the band, and they launched into a slightly modified version of Charles’ “Got A Woman” (with a touch of 2006 Kanye). Following that, they double-cover Charles’ version of “Ring Of Fire,” expanding to galactic proportions.
The show transitions from Ray Charles tunes to a selection by John Oates, joined by none other than Mr. Oates himself, introduced by Karl as “one of the greatest songwriters alive.” They hit “Say It Isn’t So” and Jr. Walker’s “Roadrunner” before taking a break.
When they returned, they picked up where they left off, opening with a rockabilly-flavored version of Oates’ “Maneater.” After a few more Oates songs—they can’t really be called covers if the songwriter is on stage—they returned to Mr. Charles for a euphoric take on “Boogaloo,” while trumpet player Chris Littlefield played dancing hype man, ricocheting around the stage.
They closed the John Oates selection with “Can’t Go For That” before being joined once again by Zach Deputy for Charles’ “Mess Around.” Oates hung around for a couple more songs, including a rousing cover of “Busted” and a reggae-flavored “Hit The Road Jack” before heading back up the stairs to sustained applause.
The group ran through another jam before tearing the roof off The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” The horns weave through a massive guitar and keys sound, rhythm section muscular and booming, before the band falls back into silence for Denson’s hybrid beat-box/flute solo. As he builds momentum, the crowd responds with enthusiasm, until the moment when the band drops back in, at which point they go apeshit.
As Tiny Universe left the stage, the crowd slowly filtered out of the building into the freezing air, but nobody was complaining.