Just a funky little Wednesday night house party. Everybody was his own guest of honor, his own entertainment, jamming in the aisles of Cap Centre as those avatars of funk itself, Parliament/Funkadelic, jammed on stage.
The hall was packed with people who turned out to take part in the show as much as to observe it, to drain the band of its energy while expending all of their own in a massive and frenzied exchange. The show was everything the largely teen-aged audience hoped for, and probably, everything their parents could have worried about.
You have to be "a little crazy" to do a night on the town with P/F in the first place. The band, with as many as 26 players, dancers, singers and actors on the stage at once, looks like it escaped from Ringling Bros. Decked out in early "Lost in Space" attire, they are, well, in a word, esoteric.
Ditto that for the last few album titles: The Mothership Connection. The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. Funkentelenchy vs. the Pacebo Syndrome. The Motor Booty Affair. All meaningless pharases to the outsider, but part of an on-going scenario of intrigue, music and fantasy to loyal P/F fans.
It was a cult party. Arema aisles littered with tripped-out, blissed-out, decked-out bodies -- all chanting the words to each and every song from deep within their special galaxy.
Girls danced with girls, boys with boys, couples with each other and total strangers, in a flash of instant intimacy, joined forces.
"This, shouted a dancing, teen-aged girl, never missing a beat, "isn't something you can explain. You don't pick it apart, you just dive in."
Everybody lights up something at concerts. A book of matches, a flick of the Bic, or, in one girl's case, a silver-plated candelabrum ("Oh God, don't tell my mother.") But at P/F shows, the flashlight is the thing. Maybe thousands filled the hall.
"You gotta be ready for IT," one girl, who had a flashlight tucked into the center of her well-filled red Lurex tube top, screamed as explanation.
"It," of course, is P/F's number "Flashlight", which is all about guess what? But the band saved the best for last, and, in anticipation, the flashlights, night lights, strobe lights and even "Star Wars" force beams (vivid green or day-glo pink), flickered intermittently.
Four hours of nonstop dancing, smoking, drinking and partying moved toward the end they'd all been waiting for.
"Got to party, D.C.!" Funkadelic leader Gary Schider yells at the crowd as the familiar first bars of "Flashlight" fill the air. The house went wild. The tremor of nearly 12,000 people with flashlights leaping to their feet at once shakes the floor like an earthquake.
The girl with the candelabrum lit all six white candles and raised them high above her head. Everybody around her, everybody in the room, knew the words to this one as they sand, screamed, danced and stamped their feet.
At the end, the spent partiers dancing right out the doors as the house lights came up. No one had to tell them the gig was over. This is one act that has no encore.