Tony Allen/Psyco on da Bus at the Double Door - January 19th, 2002
The Psyco on Da Bus project is named after its roots, recorded on a bus midway through the 2000 tour and later fine-tuned in various studios in Paris. It relies heavily on funk and afro-beat rhythms of the 70s and earlier, while simultaneously stretching into the future via space-age electronics and sensory overloads. With an interesting array of sound effect devices, the show becomes as much fun to watch as it is to hear.
Chicago's tour stop at the Double Door hit on a day filled with energy as Chicago partying had been fueled all day by the Bears' playoff game and the return of Michael Jordan. The house was packed and ready to kick it as the music opened with a chanting of "Peace." Laying heavy on the bass lines and keyboard-powered funk, Tony Allen and company let the crowd get their feet wet with tunes like K.I.S. Compatible and Afropusherman. Heads were bobbing and the crowd was moving by the time a slinky bass-line and tribal chants introduced Never Satisfied.
The chanting quickly brought the crowd to a level that DJ Dr. L could play with. Using his turntables, Dr. L simulated guitar riffs through frequency and knobs, creating wah-pedal sounds and sensory-fueled sound through his fingertips. In lieu of a guitarist, Psyco on Da Bus created its own artificial guitar in Pictures Talk.
Once Dr. L brought his toys out, the rest of the band percolated with him. Tony Allen kicked in with vocals while a "shake your ass" drum solo gave everyone a minute to let the music take them. Keeping the futuristic endeavor in check, Dr. L continued to produce cosmic noises behind heavy chants as the group headed into a disco-funk influenced Don't Take My Kindness For Weakness.
A short set break allowed for a slow and relaxing reentry after the intensity of Set 1. Trickling in with flute and a slow chant, Time to Take a Rest allowed the crowd to stretch and get ready for round 2. Tony Allen allowed the beat to climb slowly as he chanted and kept his tight rhythm ever increasing. He worked to build the groove gradually, until handing the vocals over to the bassist to let the beat explode. By the time Black Voices was in full swing the tempo had risen to its highest point yet and sweat was on every dancer's brow.
Ariya-Psychejujumix brought the tribal beats back, shaped mostly by the keyboards but enhanced by chants from the audience. Tony Allen showed true jazz influence via scat vocals while the band grew hot behind him. A very powerful bass line took the group to the end of Set 2 and eventually into a dramatic encore.
Dr. L took over again during the encore, engaging the crowd with unbelievable electronics. Crazy noises emitted from his machines while the drums and bass stayed along side in perfect sync. The groove was deep and forceful, allowing the spirituality behind traditional afro-beat to shine through.
For more info on Psyco on da Bus see www.platformrecordings.com.