Nope, this isn’t funk. But funk is more than just a poppin’ bass, horns and hi-hats. It’s an attitude. And with that in mind, enjoy “Haters” by Baby Baby. We think you’ll find it just as groovy as our normal Funk Friday offerings.
WHERE: Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA
WHEN: December 9, 2011
HIGHLIGHT: Singers screaming and jumping into the audience. Guitarists jumping on people’s shoulders. Yeah, it’s a party.
Most CD release parties in Atlanta consist of one-to-four openers, followed by the band of the hour rounding out the night. It’s not a bad set up, unless you’re the band “celebrating” your new album: trying to stay sober enough to play, trying to take this whole “party” seriously… But what if you want your album’s release party to be, y’know, a party? To celebrate their new album, Tournament, local heroes Manray did it right.
Cusses opened the night, revving up the audience just right. Manray reveled in the whipped crowd. Then Baby Baby took the stage and let the men of the hour cut loose and kick back. Cusses’ lead singer looked like Lisbeth Salander and sounded like a high-speed, glammed-up PJ Harvey. Jumping and shouting between drummer and guitarist, with a desperate innocence in her voice, she commanded the crowd – daring them to stand still.
After Cusses left the stage, Manray started with a bellow, “CHECK! CHECK! OCCUPY THE THUNDERDOME!!!” Piercing highs melted to singing mids, with their drummer placed front and center, pounding out triple heartbeats and smashing high hats. The rock and the irreverence built. Between songs the boys laughed and yelled about everything from professionalism to shots to prison sex, all while playing a set that had budding young mohawks, party girls, hipsters and even a couple of rockabilly kids all jumping and thrashing together.
Baby Baby ended the night in their swim trunks, pouring water on each other and the crowd, and bringing the party’s pitch up even higher. Their lead singer, Fontez Brooks, has been known to end a set hanging from the ceiling. When, however, you’re closing the night out for your friends’ CD release party, you gotta make it special. Anybody can get up in the rafters. But can anybody climb on the shoulders of the nearest audience member and continue to rock the hell out? The guys in Baby Baby sure as hell did.
photos by photos by Lysa Fisher
“They’ll do this all night long”
“You must not know who you’re dealing with,” Fontez Brooks whispers on Money’s tent pole track “Fire.” Then Baby Baby combusts into a feverish frenzy of breakdown dance-beats, grunge-worthy distortion, and one funky-ass bass line as the chorus chants “set my heart on fire!” It’s a beautiful moment from a garage-pop band that’s more punk than anything seen this side of the millennium.
Every track on Money features Brooks’ soulful yet cartoonish vocals, Grant’s impressive caveman-esque drumming and Kyle’s technical bass calisthenics. Newcomer Colin adds an air with breathy backups and miscellaneous percussion.
“Fire” predictably scorches. “London Bridges” is a heartfelt dance jam about being in the “friend zone.” “Fight Club” is surprisingly heavy with a down and dirty guitar line that they beat to death – fitting, considering the track’s title. It ends at least twice, only to start again (and again) in increasingly hilarious fashion.
Who would want it to end anyway? Baby Baby’s entertainment is infinite. Just look at the album’s title track, cleverly named “$.” Or the bank robbing fantasy “Nothing to Lose” where the perpetrators “have to be home by five.” It’s hilarious. The catchy melodies and memorable hooks are a bonus.
Money is just four dudes having fun slamming on their instruments and acting a fool. Fortunately they do so with surprising skill and the songs are a blast. It’s worth it just to hear Brooks rant about a bad date on the album’s first track, titled, “I Could Have Taken You to See the Blink 182 Reunion Show but I Spent $20 Taking You Out on a Date Instead and You Didn’t Return My Phone Call so Now I Want My Refund (aka $20).” Long live Baby Baby. (Gospel of Rhythm)
Recorded and mixed by Matt Goldman, Jonathan Newton, Joshua Lamar, Eric Friar and Cregg Gibson // Mastered by Matt Goldman and Carl Saff
A Baby Baby live show is one of those rare musical events where an audience has the opportunity to become more then mere passive bystanders. From the very first wonderful blast of distortion, the band conveys an earnest energy that is largely absent from far too many concerts. Almost immediately, as guitarist and lead singer Fontez Brooks first wrenched his face into a snarl, the audience was forced into a whirlwind of breathless chants, pounding noise, and inescapable enthusiasm.
The core of Baby Baby’s sound follows a formula that is textbook rock and roll: driving chords propped up by loud drums and thumping bass lines. What makes Baby Baby interesting is the way in which they deliver that formula. Their melodies rely on very basic changes, which are made memorable by their simplicity and repetition. The indescribable energy of Baby Baby is what really turns their music into something different. Throughout the show, Brooks would pounce into the audience, frantically thrashing around with a perpetual wild-eyed stare. The show could almost double as a comedy set, as a good portion of the night was mostly the band rambling about nonsense, but in the best possible way. Baby Baby actively tries to make their audience feel as if they’re their friends rather than a group of assembled strangers.
The fierceness of Baby Bay also has a way of making some of their songs sloppy and a little bit unintelligible, but this was hardly noticeable with everyone jumping and being joyfully shoved around. When Baby Baby came on for their encore, led by their signature song “Fire,” the combined energy of the band and the audience reached a tipping point and the song turned into more of a brawl as half of the band began to hang off the ceiling, and the crowd reached out their sweaty hands to embrace them. The combination of Baby Baby’s relentless intensity and natural warmth has the potential to turn any performance from a forgettable concert into a frenzied union.
The Drunken Unicorn // Atlanta, GA // February 12
At 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 12th, a very slow trickle of music fans filtered into The Drunken Unicorn. Three bands were slated to play, but the crowd hadn’t arrived. With a line-up like Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, The Cusses and Baby Baby, you would think people would be banging down the doors, right? But the night looked ominous. A worried merch girl made noises about the bad traffic, the million other things going on, all the romantic pre-Valentine’s Day crap all over town, how maybe this wouldn’t be the best night for a show. Oh, was she wrong…
Baby Baby started the night off with a rebel yell of “JORTS!!!” Four men got on stage, all decked out in cut-off jean shorts and little else, proclaiming, “Fuck winter! We’re dressed like it’s summer! Whatcha gonna do?!” Then they lit into a set of pure party rock. With grinding guitars, thumping bass, pounding drums and jokes about race, the suburbs and summer clothes, Baby Baby pumped the crowd into a frenzy that wouldn’t end till after Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun left the stage. The answer to their (potentially) rhetorical question, of course, was, “We’re gonna dance!”
The Cusses got on stage, sounding like Death From Above 1979 with a gorgeous female leader vibrating down the middle of the stage like David Byrne with a mean left hook. In the aftermath, one member of the audience said in an awed voice, “Did anyone else feel like she was about to jump off the stage and punch you in the face? Because I kinda did… and, well, that was kinda hot.”
Finally, Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun took the stage. TTMTTS gave life to all that is collaboration, rock and dance. They thanked their forerunners. They thanked their openers. They thanked their audience. They thanked each other. The crowd begged, pleaded and demanded, “ONE MORE SONG!” Sure, this happens at nearly every show in every city where kids want more party, but somehow it never gets old. After just enough pause and with just the perfect, “Aw shucks, you really like us?” grins on their faces, TTMTTS came back out and rocked the house down, just one more time.