Down North Brings the Funk to Coffeehouse

Vincent Warne

Seattle-based foursome Down North brought their unique brand of funky, rocking soul music to Coffeehouse this past Friday, Jan. 31. They kicked off the show with a bang and maintained a high level of energy for their entire set. Their music is an amalgamation of several genres, skirting the line between rock, punk and soul, but good old-fashioned funk is always at the core of their sound. Their music was danceable and fresh, and it kept the small crowd in Reid Campus Center dancing and cheering the entire time.

The fairly long length of the show and the similarity of many of their songs could have made the show a drag, but the band kept things entertaining throughout. Vocalist Anthony “RenaGade” Briscoe was a natural showman, giving the crowd something to watch as he grooved to the music, moonwalked, juggled the microphone and walked off the stage through the crowd. His vocal prowess was impressive as well; he had a growling croon and a powerful falsetto. His banter with the crowd was also entertaining. At one point , he quoted Star Trek and joked that all who got the reference would end up being everyone’s bosses one day.

The musicianship of each member was impressive, and they all got their chance to shine. Bassist Brandon Storms slapped his way through some funky grooves and proved his skill with his fast solos and intricate bass lines. Guitarist Nick Quiller carried the show with reverb-drenched licks and crunchy solos. Conrad Real showcased some awesome drumming skills and proved himself to be nearly as much of a showman as Briscoe. After a knock-out shirtless drum solo, he danced off the stage and into the crowd as Briscoe briefly took over drum duties.

The evening was full of entertaining little moments like that, but none of it would have held up if the music had not matched the showmanship. Luckily, the band’s eclectic mix of musical styles kept it fresh. Whenever things seemed to be getting a little stale musically, they threw in something different, like a groovy rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.” Although the mood was generally fun and upbeat, in the middle of the show Briscoe introduced a song about domestic abuse dedicated to his little sister who passed away last year. It was a rare crowd-silencing moment, and the song was a soulful, dramatic jam that ended up being one of the high points of the night.

For anyone looking for good funky music, an entertaining show and lots of dancing, Down North’s set at Coffeehouse did not disappoint. Near the end of the show, Briscoe proudly announced that the band had recently made a record deal with Universal, so expect to hear big things from Down North in the future.