After a five-hour, eight-act concert lineup, a restless crowd of about 12,000 people might be drained of all its energy and enthusiasm before a ninth and closing act takes the stage. But when that act -- the Junkyard Band -- is a local favorite and specializes in a largely indigenous music -- go-go -- the atmosphere can change drastically.
Judging by the swaying, bobbing mass at Sunday's Holiday Jam at Capital Centre, go-go music, with its syncopated percussion, catchy riffs and scat vocals, is still king here. The crowd roared for every chorus of the group's four-song, 30-minute set, which included "Booty Time" and a cover of Michael Jackson's "Enjoy Yourself."
In fact, go-go pervaded the evening, which featured national as well as local talent. The Junkyard Band's performance slightly overshadowed a rousing one by rap duo Salt 'n' Pepa, who batted cleanup in the nine-act bill and employed their own brand of go-go, with their live, "all-girl band" Pleasure. With tight arrangements and lively solos, Pleasure provided a fresh, live edge to Salt 'n' Pepa's old and new material. The duo's spunky set included especially spirited renditions of "Independent," "Tramp" and "Expression," which featured the group's characteristically feminist lyrics and its trademark bump-and-grind dancing.
R&B iconoclasts Tony! Toni! Tone! also effectively used live sound to energize the audience, frequently engaging it in call-and-response games during "The Blues," "Feels Good" and "Hey Little Walter," and teaching it a new dance, "The Oakland Stroke." Singer Raphael Wiggins soothed the crowd during the group's performance of its recent No. 1 R&B smash, "It Never Rains in Southern California," while his brother Dwayne suggestively teased the ladies, dropping his overalls on another ballad, "Whatever You Want."
Two of Washington's oldest go-go acts, Troublefunk and Chuck Brown, also invigorated the audience early in the evening, borrowing riffs and vocals from Nintendo games and rap songs, but their age showed in the way they were received by the mostly young audience. Some 25 minutes into the 40-minute set, many sat down when bassman Big Tony and the rest of the band were jamming. By contrast, the crowd was riveted by the younger Junkyard Band's every move.
While the audience warmly responded to live music, it became restless and even disenchanted during the sets where the artists lip-synced or sang over recorded tracks. Nary a head was bobbing during sets by Hi-5, Father M.C. and Troop, none of whom used live backup musicians and some of whom were booed. Troop's set was marred by the cracking of the lead singer's voice and technical problems on its closing number, "Spread My Wings."
Washington native and rap chameleon D.J. Kool exhibited variety both in music and costume, but was met with relative indifference by his hometown audience.