Ensemble Moto Perpetuo at the DiMenna Center/Baryshnikov Arts Center
Ill Fits and Citay at Mercury Lounge

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: Back Home in Brooklyn

by Brian Donohoe sharon jones and the dap kings music hall of williamburg

It's impossible not to have a good time at a Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings show. Staind might be your favorite band and you will still find yourself jamming out. Everyone smiles, everyone dances, and all is good with the world when they take the stage. 

The tone was set Tuesday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg with Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens (Jones' labelmates on Daptone Records), who delivered a soulful and energetic performance. Seeing gospel in a place like MHOW is awesome: everyone feels they can act up like they're in a Baptist Church. Even SJ herself found it necessary to come out and join Naomi for her final song, wearing just jeans and a T-Shirt.

After a brief break, the Dap Kings took the stage for their traditional warm up before bringing on Sharon. A new component to the ten-minute pre-show was a little showcase of solos by SJ's two back-up singers, the Sharonettes, who both have the pipes and moxie to headline their own shows. It was a great segway to Sharon's ass-shaking, high-stepping sass-fest intro that always makes the room go wild.

When it comes to the Dap Kings, I don't know if there's another band out there that exudes so much style: suits, sunglasses, composure, rhythm - it's all there. While Binky Griptite is the voice of the band, Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann) is the leader (and also lead writer and producer), spending half the show with his back to the audience conducting the band. The whole thing makes for an amazing performance, and there is no other place I'd rather be.

The band is on their ten year anniversary, and as this was their first show in a while back home in Brooklyn, it felt extra-genuine. The band always seems loose and relaxed wherever they play, but you could see that they really felt at home. The band simply knows how to put on a show. I could deal a little less with Sharon bringing up the dorky-white-guys-who-can't-dance-but think-they-can on stage - she brought on about two too many (we just want you Sharon!), but I am always amazed at the energy she brings. All that shaking and singing in front of the Dap Kings only amps up the energy and spunk. 

Amidst all of that high energy, the band was effectively able to slow things down for "Mama Don't Like My Man," a stripped-down, fiery song that is just Sharon and the Sharonettes, Binky on the guitar and Gabriel on the drums. SJ gave the crowd some background on the song, about bringing guys home to her single mother in the projects, and her constant disapproval. With the lights turned low and the spotlight on the sweat-glistened Sharon, it made for a very soulful, emotional performance.

SJDK can really bring it, and continues to be one of the most original, genuine bands around today. They continue their New York tour upstate through the 10th before returning to NYC for two sold-out shows at the Bowery Ballroom on Dec 13th and 14th: check Craigslist if you want to get in.