The Austin Chronicle

River High, Mountain Deep

Live Shots: South by Southwest 2001

Reviewed by Kate X Messer, March 23, 2001, Music

K.C. & the Sunshine Band

Star of Texas Rodeo, Travis Expo Center, Friday, March 16

While so many were content to spend the week getting poked in the eye by some West Coaster's cell phone antenna, others of us got as far from all that as we could between showcases. Wallowing instead in an aura of corn dogs and cow dung, tight Wranglers and 10-gallon hats, some of us went to the Star of Texas Rodeo. Some of us went to see K.C. & the Sunshine Band. Despite miles of club credibility and instantly recognizable mega-hits, K.C.S.B. has been long dismissed as novelty disco daddies of a buried era. Sad, because the Sunshine Band is and always has been a mighty Miami sound machine, steeped in the tradition of big R&B congloms like James Brown's J.B's and wild funk monsters Parliament, et al. Horn sections are made for crazy venues like rodeos, and K.C. & Co. -- vets of these types of circuits dating back to their South Florida heyday -- rawked the haus (somehow managing to transcend the quonset-like acoustics). Harry Casey (K.C., get it?) turned 50 this year, a fact that seemed to blow everyone in attendance away. Sure, he didn't move like the frenetic funky coked-up chicken of diva-years past, but damn, he looked fine. Gone are the color-coordinated, rhinestoned jumpsuits, and while that ultimately made me sad, simple black band uniforms of T-shirts, peg-legged trousers, and blue-trimmed waistcoats were the wiser choice for dudes hitting middle age. While the Expo Center wasn't quite as packed to the brim as it had been earlier in the week for the jumpin' jumpin' Destiny's Child show, it had its own share of families and pre-teensters rollicking through the well-worn classics ("That's the Way I Like It," "Shake Your Booty"). The band ripped without hint of irony nor phony phoning in. These guys love to play together, a fact that was clear to the thousands in attendance, who finally got off their asses (cowboys love to sit) to boot-scoot to "I'm Your Boogie Man" and the era-defining, show-stopping "Get Down Tonight."

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