The Double Door was packed Thursday night with an audience eagerly anticipating a good show. The iconic live music venue, immortalized by Jack Black in High Fidelity, was abuzz with hipsters, frat-types, and good old music snobs alike, all waiting for the same band. And wait they did. With the doors opening at nine, and the music set to begin at 10, everyone was pushed up to the front of the stage by 9:45. Unfortunately, those waiting patiently (and perhaps slightly inebriatedly) for the band had another hour to wait before the belated show got kicking. But when it got kicking, it was an all-out funk fest.

Neal Evans was grooving behind the organ even more than the few hundred fans swaying in the audience. Eric Krasno, looking every bit the part of a lead guitarist spoke the notes with his mouth as if they were coming straight out of his soul (and they very well may have been), and Alan Evans hit the drums with such passion and energy that there was a constant stream of stage crew helping to reassemble his kit. For almost half an hour the trio jammed wordlessly and seamlessly, while the audience stood back and felt the rhythms wash over them like musical waves. With hardly a pause, except to allow each other a solo or two, the trio proved why they rank so highly in the world of soul/funk music today.

With the crowd warmed up, and the band as well, as they removed their jackets and hats, the new addition to the former trio, singer Toussaint, was called up on stage and almost immediately launched into the infectious and catchy “Don’t Tell Me” off their new album, No Place Like Soul. Constantly addressing the crowd and throwing himself fully into the music, Toussaint helped set the place on fire with four or five songs straight through, finishing up with the melodic “Mary” also off the new album. Then, abruptly, as if making a statement, he set his mike down, walked off the stage and out the back door onto Michigan Avenue.

For another 15 minutes the original trio jammed together, this time to a much smoother, mellower, sexier rhythm that seemed to be designed to cool off the fire Toussaint had ignited, but without losing any of the energy or drive previously established. Quietly coming to a close, the trio gave their bows and embarked on their musical way, though not as flamboyantly as their new frontman, leaving the audience with the feeling of having witnessed three shows in one. There’s the buoyant, edgy, industrial vibe of the original Soulive, grooving to their own beat and riffing off each other for a solid half hour, then the new funk band with the reggae/soul frontman belting out innocuous backyard barbeque songs, and then the quiet, soulful, lounge trio, sent to relax the crowd. Combine all this with the Double Door experience and you’ve got an A Grade concert.

(Duty tells me that I should reveal I enjoyed the concert from the second floor of the Double Door, on a stool overlooking the balcony with a cold beer in hand, and not in the sweaty pack of concert-goers on the first floor. The Double Door may be both cool and chilled, but it sure didn’t feel air conditioned down there).

For more information on Soulive, and extended tour dates and locations visit their homepage
For more on the Double Door, visit its homepage

The remainder of their tour dates in August are listed below:

    August 9 Power Plant Live! Baltimore, MD
    August 22 The Mercy Lounge Nashville, TN
    August 23 The Roxy Theatre Atlanta, GA
    August 24 Visulite Theatre Charlotte, NC
    August 26 The Orange Peel Asheville, NC
    August 29 The Fox Theatre Boulder, CO
    August 30 The Belly Up Aspen, CO Nokia
    August 31 Mangy Moose Teton Village, WY
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