For nearly two hours on Saturday night, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic tickled every single funk bone in iFest's sun-drenched body. For a festival so family-friendly and altogether worldly, Clinton and his gang made the lawn in Sam Houston Park feel sleazy in the most admirable way. No one will take up Clinton's baton when the Mothership comes back around to pick him up one last time. There is no one alive on this earth that can and could pull off what he does even in his late, late 60s. It's still a wonder to Aftermath why he can't command a sellout at any venue in any town, seeing that this is a living, cognizant legend that can still tour and has a full-force backing band. Watching YouTube clips from Parliament-Funkadelic's Houston history, especially the 1979 clips proved that the band has had a storied love affair with our city. A handful of clips from a set from at what looks to be the Summit emanate sweat and funk through your monitor.
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The lawn at Sam Houston Park was full by 7 p.m. People of every stripe and age crowded in closer for the P-Funk's landing an hour later, and from note one, the entire congregation was one dancing mass. The new P-Funk is easily ten people strong onstage during a even a slower song. During cuts like "Flashlight" and "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)," that number would climb to in excess of 20 considering random dancers, extra singers, and the random folks walking up to a mike onstage to sing one line. At certain points there was almost too much going on. If you were standing directly in front about ten yards back facing the stage, your entire field of vision would be filled with glorious WTF: A lithe, half-naked male dancer in furry leggings, five or so female backup singers of varying size and race, Clinton pumping his fist at different intervals and the stray jamming saxophone solo would come barreling in.
A few times we had to retreat down to our phone to take note of what we saw, and also to recharge our brains for another peek at the stage. The widescreen P-Funk stage show is a like a Robert Williams painting, with all the blood and gore replaced with funky stoned grins. Local singer Mary Griffin made a few appearances onstage, and her piercing soul wail shocked the crowd with each squeal. The uninitiated didn't know what to expect from her and when she would belt out her business, the crowd just seemed to get heartier. She is currently touring with Clinton across the country as a part of his revolving revue. Clinton is history that much is true and shows like this are treasures. While we were watching the show, our friend said that the show reminded her of one of the last times James Brown came to town in 2006. Not that Clinton is on his way out at all, but any chance you can get to see someone who pushed up the plates of modern music to make his own mountains to climb and conquer, you have to take. Thanks to iFest, Saturday night a whole new generation of kids got funked up beyond all recognition.