by Sky Disco
When I entered the Highline Ballroom for the Million Man Mosh event on Wednesday night, I felt like I had stepped through a time portal. The place was buzzing with excited fans, and there was an incredibly open and family-like energy in the venue, with that same energy tranferring to the stage with every performer.
After bopping to the DJ stylings of legendary Afrika Baambaata, 24-7 Spyz brought humor and heaviness to their opening set. Toward the end of their set, left-handed guitar great Ronny Drayton was invited to the stage for a funky jam and to share a few words about his son Donovan, who was jailed and is currently on trial for a crime he says did not commit. (Proceeds from the concert were pegged for Donovan's legal aid fund.) Being close friends with both bands and the evening's promoters, Black Rock Coalition, Drayton seemed to be at ease: I felt like I was in a private home instead of a club.
Then entered headliners Living Colour. On guitar, Vernon Reid delivered exsquisite electric overdrive with several intermittent modulated tones. Occassionally, he appeared to have some issues with his volume pedal but lead vocalist Cory Glover -- a passionate guy with a sarcastic funny bone -- always found a way to vocally smooth out some of the technical kinks. Bassist Doug Wimbish was an awesome spectacle, delivering power grooves while utilizing every inch of the stage. Toward the end of their set, Michael Hampton, known for his guitar work with Funkadelic, sauntered on stage with an amplified gigbag, wanting to get in on the action. I'm pretty sure this was completely unplanned because the band was laughing and looked completely shocked. What was fantastic, though, is that the family atmosphere continued, with the stage crew running on to help him connect his guitar to the system, resulting in an impromtu three-guitar jam between Hampton, Drayton and Reid. Fun times.