The members of Orgone are in Las Vegas, which seems like it would be the perfect spot for an eight-piece, dancefloor-conquering funk and soul collective to play four consecutive nights of shows. Well, yeah, that hasn't exactly been the case.
Sure, this Los Angeles-bred band likes to party, or at least provide the soundtrack for parties, but Vegas isn't really their speed, guitarist and co-founder Sergio Rios tells me late on a Friday afternoon. Soon, they'd be heading down for their third night playing in a casino lounge, where he says the stage is tucked behind the bar and the management insists that even the band must obey a dress code that forbids the wearing of hats. The shows have been OK - not exactly as raucous as their typical performances - but Orgone is mostly enjoying the downtime in their high-rise hotel.
And perhaps they've earned some downtime after an exhausting touring schedule over the summer and fall that saw them on some of the biggest festival stages this summer, including an appearance at Outside Lands in San Francisco in August. They haven't slowed down this fall either, and are hitting the road again immediately after Thanksgiving for a West Coast tour that will drop them off at the Annex on Monday night.
After a long list of musicians (many of them esteemed session players and members of prolific backing bands) rotated through the Orgone lineup, the band has solidified its touring roster, placing dynamic vocalist Niki J. Crawford at the front of the stage while pumping out the innovative brand of soul music that manages to both harken back to the golden days of the genre while also reaching out into the realms of Afrobeat and funk (with some shavings of rock and hip-hop) to create a calling card sound.
"Bands like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings brought soul back to the forefront and blew it up," says Rios of the resurgence of soul and funk music.
"Having been traveling the country, there's definitely a revival of bands trying to capture this vintage style," he says.
Acts like Mayer Hawthorne might come to mind, but the soul and funk that Orgone (the band name has nothing to do with our home state, but rather an old-timey theory of a universal life source) purveys is also uniquely rooted in the Los Angeles upbringing of most of its members. The Orgone sound is flavored with the multi-cultural influences L.A. is known to provide, which Rios says plays perfectly into the upbeat, festive nature of their live performances. He references War, a fellow Los Angeles funk act, as a big influence, and it shows.
Their latest album, Cali Fever, sounds essentially like a raging dance club packed into 12 sounds. I ask Rios a few times if he thinks this is a party band. He laughs when I continually bring this up.
"It's a byproduct that comes out of the fact that this the band was something we'd do to have a good time. It's the music we love, and it's something that other people can have a good time with, too," says Rios.
And people do have a good time. If you've seen Orgone come through town, you know that there is something about this band - maybe it's the horns or the rhythms or both of those things, and others, combined - that gets people up and moving. At the band's aforementioned appearance at Outside Lands, an LA Weekly blogger commented on the degree of insane motion going on in the crowd, and a sound technician who was getting down so hard he didn't realize some of the monitor speakers weren't working properly.
And this might be part of the reason the men and woman of Orgone aren't all that jazzed about playing in this weird Las Vegas club - it's not conducive to dancing. And this is a band that wants people to dance.
"This is funk music, man. It's all about dancing," says Rios, with Crawford laughing in the background.
"It's funny because we can feel however we want to about what we're playing, but we haven't accomplished what we set out to do until we see people out there moving."
9pm Monday, November 28. The Annex (in the Midtown complex), 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $10/advance, $13/door. 21 and up. Tickets at bendticket.com, ticketswest.com and Ranch Records.