Bring the funk. And also bring the jazz. But also bring the weirdo-Frank-Zappa rhythmic syncopations. While you’re at it, bring the sci-fi themes, costumes and backup dancers.
That, in a nutshell, is local ensemble Hoopty, a dance band that’s got a lot more going on than just down-and-dirty grooves.
“We’re trying to keep it accessible, while at the same time bringing a level of harmonic sophistication and improvisation that people don’t usually get with dance music,” explains guitarist Stu Dean.
The group’s website describes the sound as “Neo Vintage Funk,” which seems like the understatement of the year. In talking with Dean about the group’s jarring and at times atypical sound, he describes manipulating the rhythmic phrases and tweaking where the notes fall, and at one point says he thinks of his guitar as a voice that goes inside and outside of the harmony. Basically, it’s pretty heady stuff. But you can dance to it, and still have fun.
The group started five years ago. From the beginning, the approach to songwriting has been the same. But one area they’ve evolved is the theatrical element of the performance. Videos online feature them in all-white Devo-esque outfits as they head-bang along to the funk tunes. In the future, they hope to create a full-on sci-fi visual production for the music.
“It’s a lot of fun to get all dressed up. It’s great for the camaraderie to feel like a group of explorers,” Dean says. “If people see us acting like fools, it gives them more permission to get crazy and let loose themselves.”
NFO: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.