by Josh Gross
Things were a bit quiet in Old Town on Feb. 22. The light rain put a damper on the typical Friday crowd, leaving the cavernous clubs largely empty.
Even upstairs at Reef, things were a bit downtempo.
Monophonics, the sole band scheduled for the night, took its sweet time getting ready—not hitting the stage until nearly 11 p.m. And when they did, it was with no words, no four counts, just the sudden dulcet tones of a wah pedal for a few bars, then the beat dropped.
It was a strong '70s bar band sound: heavy on the mid-tempo funk beats, peppered with staccato wubs of bass and rhythmic stabs of organ frosted with guitar textures and swells of horns.
Though the audience at Reef was only a few dozen deep, they took to the dance floor instantly, rather than adhering to the Boise custom of waiting until a band's last song.
"When we get to that part, we need y'all to help us out and sing 'sho is funky,'" singer Kelly Finnigan said from behind his keyboards. "Can you do that?"
The crowd could.
As if to highlight the retro sound, one woman on the dance floor (dressed in rhinestone jeans and sleeved with tattoos) lifted up her shirt. It's a move that—like the band's funk-rock sound—is less common than it was in decades past, but will never really go away.
Not that Monophonics noticed. It was too deep in a groove.
"If you ain't holding a drink, you need to be clapping right now," Finnigan said.
And like God commanding, "let there be light," there was clapping on the one.
Monophonics aren't breaking new ground. To some degree, from the audience's perspective, the songs are even almost interchangeable: a funk groove with gravelly, southern-fried vocals focused on love and power gone wrong. The goal, of course, is to get people to forget their problems for a bit and refocus on what really matters: booty shaking.
The audience slowly bled away as the set went on. But the band stayed funky until the very end.