The musical duo BoomBox performed an absolute rollercoaster of a performance at the Paradise Rock Club last Saturday. The group consists of Zion Godchaux playing guitar over DJ Harry’s funky house beats. DJ Harry is a new addition to the group, after Godchaux’s original producer, Russ Randolph, left the group. Notably, Godchaux has an interesting musical heritage himself—he is the son of Donna Jean and Keith Godchaux, two members of the legendary Grateful Dead in the 1970s. BoomBox has even more interesting musical history than its connection to the iconic classic rock band. The group originated in the famous city of Muscle Shoals, Ala., home to many recording studios and famous for “the Muscle Shoals sound.” Legends like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and The Allman Brothers Band have all spent time writing and recording music there in search of the prized sound on their records.
BoomBox performs a unique style of music. Driven by house influences, the music evokes feelings that range from mellow to crazed. The duo started off slow, perhaps to allow the audience to warm up to their unique style. The presence of only two members on stage allowed for the sound they created to fill the empty space. As the show progressed, the crowd began to vibe with the music, and Godchaux worked off of the audience, mirroring the energy with rhythmic grooves of his own. It appeared that the music had created an emotional—and almost physical—connection between the musicians and the audience.
His style of playing is unorthodox for a lead guitarist, but incredibly skillful nonetheless. He played with incredible restraint, often letting the house beat fill the air as he stood, almost awkwardly, in front of the audience. Godchaux’s performance immediately informed the crowd that he would not be playing any notes that didn’t need playing. At many concerts, the guitarist would be expected to indulge in multiple extended guitar solos, replete with shredding and head banging. Godchaux, however, remained true to his established method of restraint and precision, playing a few extended solos. These solos were absolutely essential to the performance, and he seemed well aware of this fact. To describe his style succinctly would be to compare it to the famous story of Goldilocks. It was “just right.” His main contributions were groovy rhythmic patterns and chords which meshed inexplicably well with the house beats. His playing style wasn’t fast or flashy, but rather a perfect complement for the music that DJ Harry was producing.
Two highlights from the set were “Stereo” and “Mr Boogie Man.” Both songs featured Godchaux’s wispy, high vocals that seemed to taper off, both in pitch and volume. His vocals acted primarily as an additional instrument. His voice and lyrics added an extra dimension to the music that fit well with the house beat and the duo’s overall sound. Words like “I heard your stereo / Coming from your window / Yeah, your stereo / Lighting up these shadows” were the chorus of “Stereo” that reverberated through Paradise Rock Club. This lyricism mirrored the event itself. The music slipped into the hearts and souls of the audience, appearing from some semi-ethereal source, and illuminated the very essence of the fans affinity for music.
The house beats were easy for listeners to lock their ears on, and it acted as a heartbeat for the night. The rock club filled quickly, and as the duo settled in, the audience broke into wild, frenzied dancing. Different notes jolted people left and right, while the house beat maintained its steady thump to keep everyone grounded. The music permeated the room, connecting the individual members of the audience to the duo and to each other. It was almost difficult not to engage with the people nearby. Rhythm, dance, and mutual appreciation for the music blossomed into quick and easy friendships.
DJ Harry’s house beats brought a European dance-party feeling to the night, and the audience loved it. The duo stayed true to the ideals of late night European dance parties, as they played until the club forced them off of the stage. For a group that lets its music do the talking, its sonorific presence was much greater than bigger bands in bigger venues. At 12:15, as the duo was in the middle of playing, with musical thoughts still developing, and no signs of slowing down, the club turned the lights on and staff members came onto the stage to start taking apart the set. The duo meekly waved and acknowledged the fans, and promptly walked off stage.
Featured Image by Delaney Vorwick / Heights Staff