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We were blessed with the psychedelic funky sounds of local Jersey boys Fungkshui on Friday night at the legendary Saint. The band began their highly anticipated summer tour at one of their favorite local venues before packing the van and getting on the road to Albany, NY for the Saturday night show. The crowd was already hooting and hollering before they took to the stage and once they started the show, the crowd danced their asses off all night long!

Fungkshui was spawned in high school by founding members Jack Reed on guitar and vocals along with Jon Schepis on bass and vocals. As they grew up and the years went by, they began playing small gigs here and there and in 2018 brought in Kyle Donovan on drums and vocals. The band started to gain a fan base and as with all bands, everything was put on hold during the Covid 19 pandemic. But the guys didn't let all that time go to waste, they put their heads down and kept practicing and writing new material. As they emerged from the dark ages, the final addition to the band was a longtime friend of the drummer Kyle along with Max Vitale on guitar and vocals, and boom, you get the current lineup we have today.

From the first notes of "Just That" we all knew we were in for an epic show. The funky bass lines, trippy jams, and heavy guitar riffs blend into a unique sound that can't be replicated. Next up was a band staple "Sinkhole", this one really allows each member to shine individually and collectively. The hard aggressive jam really shows the band's versatility and shows they have much more to offer than a run-of-the-mill jam band. "Blue Rat Bastard" has a mixture of bluegrass hillbilly style with hard funky rock. Exceptional songwriting to blend those two styles and make the jams work and flow through the transitions. Next up was a fan-favorite cover of reggae star Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" with the hold crowd screaming; 

"But she caught me on the counter (It wasn't me)

Saw me bangin' on the sofa (It wasn't me)

I even had her in the shower (It wasn't me)

She even caught me on camera (It wasn't me)"

After that, the raucous crowd was shown why these guys are on the rise and big things are happening with "Nothing to Hide".  I have to say this was one of my favorite jams of the night. These four guys know how to read each other on stage, you can study their body language, subtle cues, and looks as they navigate their way in and out of the jams. It's pure rock and roll, wrapped into a psychedelic taco, ending in a funkdified masterpiece.

The Saint was a perfect place to start the tour off before hitting the road. It's one of the roots of the Asbury Park music scene since 1994, run by owner Scott Stamper. The small intimate venue has been the proving grounds for all local NJ acts along with big national bands coming into town before anyone ever knew who they were. Posters of all the shows blanket the walls, highlighting the historical significance of The Saint. Incubus, Cake, Jewel, Deftones, Everlast, Stereophonics, Cannibal Corpse, Kenny Wayne Sheperd, moe., and Joey Ramone, just to name a few, along with any local NJ group all have shown their worth on the small stage. Owner Scott has been one of the biggest supporters of local live music, giving local bands a spot to showcase their talents and we are lucky to have him and The Saint a part of the Asbury Scene. We almost lost it due to the pandemic, but they set up a GO FUND ME and the support of the community kept them afloat until things got better. I for one am beyond stoked he didn't have to shut the doors, so we can keep local live music thriving for years to come.

Now back to the show, "That'll Do" takes you on a journey of exploration, blending dueling guitar riffs and solos, along with smooth funky transitions and tempos. " Old Holiday" was next on the setlist. Jon's thunderous bass lines, Kyle's unique heavy drums mixed with light fills and sounds, along with Jack's incendiary guitar chops, and last but not least Max's aggressive and smooth guitar solos were all on display. These guys are on top of their game. The progression from even seeing them a few months ago is astounding. The band is in tune with each other and it shows, and the crowd couldn't get enough. I don't know if it was the funky sounds or the funky shirts guitarist Max had got for the guys that had the ladies screaming, but something tells me it was a little bit of both. The cover of Jerry Reed's "Eastbound and Down" caught me off guard. It was a welcomed unexpected surprise, as a huge Smokey and the Bandit fan, how can you not scream the chorus to the top of your lungs, it really pumped up the crowd, just like a rodeo.

As the show progressed, the last two songs are ones that solidified for me that these guys are going places. " Mirage" has an energy that is unmatched, and really exemplifies what the band is all about, upbeat funky trippy jams that make you want to get down and shake that booty. "Orange Cadillac" the band's newly released single now streaming on all platforms, was a thriller. It's just straight unadulterated funk,  the crowd already knows the lyrics,  and was singing along with the band. "Orange Cadillac... I want my baby back". As a concert photographer for over 20 years, I have seen many bands, some make it, some don't, some are huge selling out MSG, and some are smaller selling out The Stone Pony, but one thing will always be why they make it, its the energy and engagement with the audience and their fans. Having tunes and lyrics that connect with the crowd, and then delivering an epic live performance, captures the fans and they will travel all over the world, and buy overpriced tickets to sold-out shows, it's about the energy and connection and Fungkshui has it, hands down. They put on a live show that can't be missed.

Fungkshui is about to unleash its brand of upbeat psychedelic funky hard rock to the country. They are spreading their wings and expanding the reach of their music to audiences on the east coast this summer. I am super stoked they are making a stop back home on the tour to play the Umphrey's Mcgee after show at The Stone Pony on July 15th, along with longtime friends local jam band Pocket That Bread opening the show. It's gonna be an epic night of music on the Jersey Shore!

Here are all the links to the band's pages to find out everything you need to know about them, and where they are playing on this upcoming road trip. If they are coming your way, I highly recommend you check them out. Don't forget your dancing shoes and be ready to be blown away. The future looks bright for these local Jersey boys. Better hop on the train now before they start selling out shows around the country, and you gotta pay double to get a ticket!






Matthew Lang

Photojournalist - New Jersey

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