With People’s Champs
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn
July 7, 2017
Article and photos by Ernest Barteldes
A near-capacity crowd filled the Prospect Park Bandshell as Brooklyn-based People’s Champs took to the stage with a selection of Afrobeat-inspired, funk-driven original material that blended organic tunes with electronic elements – several of the bandmembers switched instruments while the two vocalists alternated tunes. At one point during their set they delved into contemporary soul and reggae, moving the crowd that was mostly there for the evening’s top-billed artist.
I was surprised to see that Musiq Soulchild came on with a very small backup band – just bass, guitar and drums (even though the bassist often went into the keyboards). Soulchild seemed proud to keep things simple, and early in the set he mentioned that he had “no backup singers,” and told the audience that they would be handling those vocals instead.
Early into the set heavy rain began pouring but the audience – some with no umbrellas – did not move as they were already involved with the music. He alternated the songs between more mellow neo-soul material to more uptempo tunes. One of the audience favorites was “Don’t Change,” a gentle ballad about the unchanging feelings of a man towards his lover as time goes by.
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The backing band was solid – the rhythm section kept the sound solid, allowing the guitarist to slightly improvise around the melodies. Soulchild had great command of the stage, and got the audience to sing along with his hits – especially the ballads.
It was a highly enjoyable set, which was only dampened by the heavy rain and the fact that he did not return for an encore – something almost unheard of at Celebrate Brooklyn.
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