Robert Walter’s 20th Congress Gets Thy Bearings In The Bay

first_imgLocal upstarts Killer Whale, featuring bright young local keyboardist Rob Marsh, opened the show and set a chill tone for the people milling about. Robert Walter’s 20th Congress then humbly took their spots on stage and got to it with a quickness. Walter played subdued bandleader, but was atypically his monster self on the Rhodes and Hammond B3, commanding the room from stage left, with an eye on all his cohorts, and both hands working overtime. “Chalk Giant” was the rollicking opener, and RW20 tore through a good chunk of the bandleader’s catalog with aplomb. Highlights included the incredible “Posthuman” found on Spacesuit, the beloved “Get Thy Bearings”, the seminal “Corry’s Snail and Slug Death”, “Don’t Chin the Dog” and the classic “Kool is Back”, which saw local saxman Daniel Casares take center stage and rip the joint. The band returned for a most favorite encore, the classic Greyboy Allstars deep cut “Quantico, VA.” Beloved in the Bay Area for over two decades from his time with the Greyboy Allstars, 20th Congress, and more recently, as a major cog in Mike Gordon’s solo band, Robert Walter has always had a strong presence in this region. The erstwhile keyboard warrior draws a dedicated audience whenever he returns to town, no matter what project he may be touring at the time. To kick off 2019, his freewheeling groove troupe Robert Walter’s 20th Congress is back in session, hitting the road in short spurts in support of their fantastic LP Spacesuit, released last fall. Robert Walter’s 20th Congress returned to a familiar haunt in the Mission, rocking the Independent on a brisk Saturday night in SF.Walter has leaned into a decidedly more psychedelic direction in recent years, and both the album and subsequent performances have displayed this newfound looser, exploratory style of jamming prowess. This new focus on kaleidoscopic psychedelia is driven by the trusty rhythms and one-of-a-kind human spirit from drummer Simon Lott, who’s punky, quirky, lyrical style has provided a magnificent foil for Walter’s manic-like sonic expeditions. Regular guitarist Chris Alford injured himself just before the run of shows, so Oakland-by-way-of-Oklahoma prodigal son Reed Mathis took the six-string guitar slot for the 20th Congress. Mathis showed all who crammed into the room that he was one helluva hollowbody axeman, in addition to his renowned virtuoso on the bass. Rounding out the troupe is the sturdy foundation of Bay Area bassist Victor Little, who’s earned quite the rep for himself with a gang of hot gigs all over town. The band clearly has some miles on it, and even with Reed as a special guest, sounded tight, well-rehearsed, and inspired. If you see Robert Walter’s 20th Congress booked in your town, make it a point to catch the krewe. Always a thorough groove session, delivered by some cats who know what it takes to throw a psychedelic jazz dance party.Setlist: Robert Walter’s 20th Congress | The Independent | San Francisco, CA Chalk Giant, Hunk, Little Red Book, Nerva and Dumbo, Posthuman, Corry’s Snail and Slug Death, Up to Here, Kool is Back (featuring Daniel Caseres on sax), 13th Key, Get Thy Bearings, Snakes and Spiders, Current Futures, Most of All of Us, Emanate, Don’t Chin the Dog, Who Took the Happiness Out, Don’t Hate Congratulate, MilesEncore: Quantico, VAwords: B.Getzheader photo: courtesy of Monoghan Photographylast_img

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