Soulful Jams Enliven CFA Stage

Three-man band Soulive rocked the Center for the Arts Monday night, bringing their jazz-funk music and two broken drums to life.

Organist Alan Evans and drummer Neil Evans, both Buffalo natives, and lead guitarist Eric Krasno played a very laid back set for both old and new fans.

The band's fast-paced jams are accented by the lack of a bass guitar to keep rhythm, making each instrument that much more important. Each band member gets to showcase his talents during a solo since each instrument plays a significant part in each song.

The stage was set up with everyone in a straight line: drums, alto sax, electric guitar and organ from left to right, demonstrating balance and the band's need to play off each other.

After the first song, sometimes-member and always-special guest alto sax player Sam Kininger joined the band to play a fan favorite "Hurry Up ... and Wait," off of their most recent album, "Doin' Something."

The album's tunes are in the same vein of jazz and funk, but also incorporate some classical elements with simpler basic rhythms that lead to more jamming.

After playing "Cannonballs," an older tune, Alan Evans introduced more recent songs, starting off with a new tune written by Neil Evans.

The highlight of the evening came next, in Eric Krasno's song. After a slow opening of four basic chords, Krasno went off on an incredible solo that lasted about five minutes. The song slowed down and sped up, mesmerizing the crowd.

After each song, Alan Evans got up and re-introduced band members, including their sound engineer whose services were needed mid-show to replace a broken snare drum. Neil Evans' aggressive style caused the drum to break in half during one of the early songs, and he was forced to keep the rhythm on one of his cymbals. The crowd kept up the beat by clapping, and cheered when the drum was replaced.

Near the end of the set, Neil Evans asked the crowd to yell out what songs they wanted to hear. The band needed to delay because Neil Evans broke another drum. As the crowd was roaring, Krasno busted out into a fast-paced jam, and was quickly joined by all the other members in another 15-minute song.

The two-hour set closed with a song that climaxed and then slowed to show the broad talents of the band. The last section of that song had the drummer keeping the beat while everyone else followed him. Setting the speed to be very fast and then finally slower and slower until it almost stopped, the rest of the band had to watch him and see when he'd smack his drum set. The break between beats was almost five seconds long.

After a short encore break, the band came out to dimmed lights and broke out into another one of their patented jams.

As stage lights dimmed, a hauntingly accurate image of Eric Krasno appeared. As he leaned back, his beret dimmed his face and only his hands and guitar were visible to the crowd. During the set he had used a voice alteration box and a few other tricks, but this was pure electric guitar. As each member jammed, the crowd went wild.

As the song waned down, each member left one by one. First the drummer, then the guitarist, then the organist leaving Sam Kininger to play by himself for a few minutes.

As he walked off to thunderous applause, Alan Evans' voice could be heard from offstage, thanking everyone for coming and assuring everyone that Soulive would be back in Buffalo before too long.