It is not surprising that when Trouble Funk played the 9:30 club Friday night, it referred more to its recent European tour than to its days as one of D.C.'s top go-go bands. Of all the local go-go groups, Trouble Funk has been the most willing to adjust its sound to the requirements of commercial radio, playing what has become a pretty diluted form of D.C.'s indigenous funk.
Friday night the band played tighter than ever, concentrating on material from its new album "Trouble Over Here Trouble Over There." "Sexy" had familiar percussion breakdowns, but lacked a real punch, as did the quirky synthesizer melody of "Trouble," a song written by Bootsy Collins. "Hey T-Bone" hit harder, effectively paying tribute to the band's rubber-wristed conga player.
Trouble Funk's rhythm shifts are no longer subtle, and the band varied style enough to avert any criticism that live go-go is too repetitive. The band now stops between numbers, breaking the go-go tradition of one endless groove. Vocalist Tony Fisher has softened his voice, singing instead of shouting. But the house rocked all right. The Trouble Funk thunder is still there; it's just been muted a bit.