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Concert Review: The Heavy Pets' Jim Wuest and Jamie Newitt in Dubble James, at the Funky Buddha Lounge, February 13

Dubble James
The Funky Buddha Lounge, Boca Raton
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Better Than: The Wailers covering Legend at Garlic Fest.

The Review:

The Funky Buddha Lounge has moved! Its new location is on the north end of the same plaza in Boca where it's always been, but now takes up roughly twice the space. Sticking to its theme of hookahs, fine teas, tapas, and the best beer selection around, the Buddha provides a great vibe for chilling with friends and checking out local and regional acts. It boasts a great open mike night on Wednesdays, and regularly hosts nights who stretch musical boundaries, performing new material for open-minded audiences.

Thus it was a fitting venue for Saturday night's debut performance by South Florida's newest jamtronic duo, Dubble James, as they entered into the realm of dubstep. The hottest and trendiest electronic music style today, the downtempo womp of dubstep is rocking clubs worldwide. Originating about a decade ago, dubstep incorporates elements of drum 'n' bass and two-step garage. And with an emphasis on the reproduction of bass frequencies, its roots are firmly located within Jamaican dub reggae.

With this in mind, it was appropriate that the new side project of the Heavy Pets' keyboardist Jim Wuest and drummer Jamie Newitt utilized a selection of tricked-out reggae covers to anchor their first dubstep set. Paying homage to the Ruler of Reggae on the week of what would have been his 65th birthday, the duo performed unique takes on some of Bob Marley's more political tunes including "Night Shift," "Rat Race," and "Want More." For fans of the Pets, is was also very cool to hear them rework two of Wuest's originals, "Black Ice" and "Holy Holy."

Quest and Newitt were coming off a recording session with their primary band in the American dubstep capital, San Francisco, and it was obvious that these two South Florida heavyweights were seething with creative energy. It was in San Fran that Wuest stocked up on dubstep mixes and, following the session, was finally able to pursue a genre in which he's long been interested.

Implementing new gadgets and techniques for the occasion, Wuest was all over his new Korg Kaoss Pad, augmenting synth bass beats and setting loops while soloing on his dueling Yamaha and Moog keyboards. Staying true to the industrial garage sound, he also got to dust off his vocorder to create the eerie robotic vocal effects that sounded so right.

Newitt, on the other hand, used a less electronic approach; a lap through his kitchen is all he'd need to get his enhanced sound. Really -- he used a saucepan and a mixing bowl, along with a tambourine placed atop his snare and tom, to achieve a rattling percussive effect to complement his rhythmic hip-hop style.

It was also a nice touch to have real-deal freestyler, Buddha regular Justin Palermo, in the audience to add his vocal chops to the mix for a minute.

Considering it was Dubble James' first-ever performance, it's understandable there may have been some rough patches in the evening. However, the crew of kids getting down front and center all night didn't seem to notice. There was an obvious excitement in the air and in this land of electronic music, the potential seems infinite.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm not a huge dubstep fan, but it's growing on me. And seeing musicians of this caliber perform it live with no computers onstage gives me a new respect for the genre.

By the Way: Wuest and Newitt have another side project, funk/jazz trio Lather Up!, with The Heavy Pets' bassist Justin Carney. That group plays a free show tonight at Roxy's in West Palm Beach, which will feature the Spam Allstars' Chad Bernstein on trombone.

The Heavy Pets will also perform their first show since a New Year's Day performance with Particle at the Funky Buddha Lounge on Friday, February 26.

-- Matt Beck

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