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Sunday, January 26

Review and Photos: Wyllys w/ Joel Cummins and FiKus- B.B Kings Blues Club & Grill - Jan 17th, 2014 - NY,NY

Umphrey’s McGee returned to the Beacon Theatre for the first of two nights kicking off their 2014 tour in New York City. Following their show, Live for Live Music offered up the just about the perfect after show featuring Wyllys and FiKus at the legendary B.B Kings Blues Club & Grill. Wyllys a turntable specialist who brings a unique style and energy that’s unmatched paired with special guest Chris Cartelli, guitarist from Newton Crosby started the evening off.  This was directly followed by FiKus a North Jersey powerhouse that brings to the stage a style of music that is unique to themselves, making these guys a band that almost any music fan can enjoy.
Getting it all going Wyllys offered up his high energy turntable skills laying down the canvas for guitarist Chris Cartelli to paint over creating a unique and danced themed set. Watching these two work together was beyond enjoyable, as they seemed to click effortlessly both working and playing off the other and each seeming to smile bigger then the next as the set progressed. Within the first few tunes you could feel the vibe and energy inside as well as on the stage begin to climb to an even higher level as Joel Cummins (Umphrey’s McGee) joins the mix on stage creating a “Space Disco” reunion. These three together seems to work even better than one could have imagined instantly transforming the entire venue into a full on dance party.  With Wyllys spinning upbeat funk based tunes, the intense jamming and harmonic noodling of Cartelli and Joel’s quick fingered key work and unique MOG created sounds added layer upon layer to the music that just continued to flow from one song to the next. The high point of the set for me was an extremely well done and blissful version of “Once In  A Lifetime” Talking Heads, which found Wyllys going from turntables to air guitar as he watched his fellow band mates create a one of a kind experience provoking nothing but pure joy out of the fans in attendance. When the musicians on stage seem to be enjoying themselves as much if not more than those in attendance it is almost impossible to not have an amazing evening, and an amazing set and evening it was. From start to finish this set surely was a treat for the band and the fans alike, this is a trio of talented musicians that one can only hope to see reunite yet again to create this one of a kind experience.
As the set powers to an end first Cummins, followed shortly after by Cartelli pay thanks to the crowd as Wyllys continues to keep the music flowing while FiKus begins to take the stage. Made up of John Schmarak (Key’s), Pete Kozak (percussion), Steve Malone (Guitar), Travis Paparoski (Bass) and Kito Bovenschulte (Drums)  the band jam’s seamlessly out of the Wyllys set diving into their first song of the evening “Birthday Cake” (part 1). A fantastic way to start off the show and a small taste of what lie ahead. With lighting director Manny Newman offering up a delicious light show that seems to draw the crowd in even more the band drop’s into “Waffle Stomp”.  This tune journeys from smooth jazz themed grooves into sections of all out shredding and a little bit of everything in between. Making it the perfect song to show off the ability these guys have to travel from style to style of music all while keeping the crowd fully engaged. As the set continues the crowd seems to be feeding the band and in return the band keeps the music flowing. Taking the energy up to peak levels as they break into “War Pigs” (Black Sabbath). This allows the band as a whole to open up and let out the pure power and ferocity from within that this song requires, all while putting their signature twist on this classic rock tune. As the set draws to an end the band then dives into an electronic themed powerhouse “Night Walker” perfectly showcasing how many different layers this band possesses and how capable they are as musicians. Traveling from genre to genre 
As another memorable evening in New York City draws to an end I am thankful once again to live close to a city where music like this can be found evening after evening. “Live for Live Music” seems to have a undeniable grasp on what us as music fans are seeking and are more than capable of delivering. Taking two diverse styles of music and placing them together complementing Umphrey’s McGee and the fan base perfectly and creating an evening that won’t soon be forgotten. From upbeat dance tunes to hard rock played with a twist this night delivered exactly what was promised and I myself would highly recommend getting out and seeing either of these guys if and when they come your way. 
Information for Wyllys and upcoming tour dates can be found here:  http://www.originalwyllys.com/
Information for FiKus and upcoming tour dates can be found here:  http://www.fikusband.com/
Information on Live For Live Music can be located here:  http://liveforlivemusic.com/
Words: Chason Heins
All Photos: Mike Geller
 ©Grateful Music LLC