Returning to High Noon Saloon for their third time on Feb. 16, seven-piece group PHO once again brought their funky Minneapolis sound to Madison, Wis. Influenced by jazz and funk legends of the past, the group curated a set that had transformed the intimate venue into a grooving, moving machine — despite being the only exclusively instrumental artist of the night. (Although, an interview with the group earlier revealed vocals will be entering the scene on their next album.)
Instrumental funk: It’s the kind of music that immediately gets into you. It’s contagious. It’s the kind of music that, after two minutes in, you remember where you are and realize you’ve been bouncing along the entire time. The smooth transitions, soul-filled synths and careful consideration of each note allowed the audience to get lost under lights of red and purple. Playing through their sophomore album, two, with amusing faces of concentration, on-stage interactions and synchronized steps, PHO effortlessly kept the energy up, the mood right and surprised the audience with a new tune.
Seven members — that’s Joe, Spencer, Aaron, Pat, Luke, Ryan, and Dan — makes for a full stage, but in the spirit of collaboration they managed to make room for one more. Alex Wasily, a trombone player out of Chicago, joined the group for the evening, hopping on and off stage throughout the set, shouting words of encouragement from the side in-between songs.
Son! and Dirty Revival preceded PHO on stage, each bringing their own unique blends of jazz, hip-hop and funk. Son!, a Madison-based artist, exuded a confidence both in appearance and lyrically that was irresistible, a little quirky, and leaves you wanting more. Dirty Revival, a soul-and-funk-infused group hailing from Portland, Ore., is fronted by powerhouse Sarah Clarke. Another seven-piece outfit that filled the stage, Dirty Revival immediately captivated the entire room with their deep sound, Clarke’s beyond impressive range and raw, brazen charisma.
At High Noon Saloon, the intimate scene was set. An entire night full of soulful, funky expression had the audience hooked from beginning to end (at 1 a.m.). With the goal in mind to reach people through their music, PHO successfully charmed all concert-goers — and even the sound guy.
Check out the photos from the night in our galleries below!