“Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily,” David Byrne once wrote. The theory got tested on Thursday night when the Budos Band, a self-described “Afro-soul” ensemble from Staten Island, stretched its headlining set at the 9:30 Club to a sweaty 80 minutes before bringing out a vocalist to help close the gig.
An hour-20 isn’t much time, but it feels like a good while to listen to instrumental music in a mostly standing venue — even if you’re dancing, which got easier to do as the crowd thinned throughout Budos’s set. The band’s lead “voices” are Andrew Greene’s trumpet and Jared Tankel’s baritone saxophone. The potty-mouth, frat-boy banter was lame, but the jams seemed urgent and mysterious, like the title sequences of gritty ’70s cop films. Close your eyes while you listen, and you’ll imagine players in matching suits and sunglasses — not shaggy, pasty guys like these, who all look like they’re in My Morning Jacket.
The group records for Daptone, the great, anachronistic soul label that introduced the world to Sharon Jones. More recently, Budos has pulled Charles Bradley, who opened the show, out of a similar late-career obscurity: The one-time James Brown impersonator is in his 60s, but his excellent debut full-length “No Time for Dreaming” came out only last year. (Budos Band guitarist Thomas Brenneck produced the record.)
After Budos closed its set proper, it invited Bradley and His Extraordinaires backing band to join a two-song encore that featured a blistering take of Bradley’s soul ballad “Why Is It So Hard.” It was easily the evening’s highlight.
Earlier, Tankel had name-checked the Budos discography — “The Budos Band,” “The Budos Band II” and “The Budos Band III” — and introduced several numbers he said would appear on the group’s coming record, as yet untitled. Betcha they call it “Led Zeppelin IV.”
Klimek is a freelance writer.