I’ll say right up front that I only recently learned of the existence of the band Lettuce. The Mrs. actually discovered them first and played a track of theirs while we were in the car about a month ago, and I was knocked out by how great the song was. Fast forward 24 hours and I’ve got a dozen or so songs of theirs on my playlist, in heavy rotation! During the course of my digging into their repertoire, I discovered they’ve been around for over 20 years!! I was shocked to say the least. That a band could be so good and yet – as a dyed-in-the-wool music fiend – I had never even heard OF them, much less their music, was astounding to me. Frankly, I was embarrassed. But, better late than never!
As luck would have it, just a couple weeks after I learned that Lettuce existed, I found out they were playing two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco, one of our favorite venues. Even luckier, after mentioning it in passing to the Mrs., she picked up a pair of tickets for us as a surprise!
The opening act of the night was a guy by the name of Keifer. We listened to a couple of his tunes before the show and thought, m’eh… We got there a little late and he and his band were already into it on stage. The first thing we hear when we walk in is the drummer breaking into a drum solo… Eye roll… I’ve been playing drums myself for 45+ years, and I pretty much hate drum solos. So we made our way over to the bar to grab a couple drinks before heading back onto the floor.
The band was comprised of keys, bass and drums. All clearly talented, but the music was a little bland. They finished the set however, bringing out the keyboardist and trumpet player from Lettuce to augment the band and that was a STONG finish!
After a short intermission Lettuce hit the stage and BOOM! They were off and running. Now, I’m much too much of a newbie to their discography to know the names of their songs (and I’m terrible with song names anyway, especially in instrumental music!) but wow, they just grabbed the entire room right outta the gate! Heads were bobbin’, everyone was grooving, it was a GREAT vibe!
The band is a 6 piece unit – guitar, bass, drums, keys, saxophone and trumpet. The perfect combo for a funk outfit! And let me tell you, every single one of these guys was ON POINT! They were so locked in as a unit – and this is some pretty complex music – it was really something to see. It is just awesome to witness a group of musicians so in command of their instruments and yet simultaneously just flowing, like it’s second nature to them. It’s just not the same as seeing a symphony or a highly technical jazz or prog-rock act. When skill and soul unite, the outcome is nothing less than spectacular. I was beyond impressed, I was MESMERIZED! The icing on this delicious cake was their bassist. I don’t know his name or anything about him, but he was absolutely, positively stunning. His groove was so deep, and solid as a rock. He was slinky and gritty and funky and just straight up phenomenal. The kind of bass that’ll give you “stank face” it’s so damn groovy! What a delight!! I’ve played with dozens of bass players over the last 30+ years and out of those dozens I’d say 3 of them were spectacular. The bassist from Lettuce was every bit as good, if not better, than those 3. Really special.
Another aspect of the band that really caught my attention was that whenever there was a gap for a particular instrument, one of those players had some sort of percussion instrument in hand, filling up the sound. On the surface you might think how much difference can a tambourine or a shaker make? Well, it makes a BIG difference. All those little extra voices, those nearly imperceptible accent notes really just gave a glistening polish to an already stellar performance.
I can say with full confidence that I am officially a FAN of Lettuce! I have a lot of their material to absorb still, but I seriously dig what I’ve heard so far. It may have been my first show with them, but it certainly won’t be my last!
A big thank you to the bands and the crew that make these shows happen. And an extra big THANK YOU to the Mrs. for the great surprise!
Thanks for stopping by!