George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
February 25th at House of Blues
By: Clio Fleece
There was an overwhelming message of love and acceptance conveyed through music at George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s show last Saturday night, which was started off by Boston-based Nephrok! Allstars. In between a mixture of covers and originals, during which the band’s leader, Nephrok! danced around the stage in what could only be described as a funk sultan costume, he took moments between the music to spout sentiments of love, equality, and peace. He topped off this performance by emerging in a monarch butterfly costume before their last song. This grandiose display of peace and equality would be continued later on in the night.
Most people I talk to don’t recognize George Clinton’s name. Perhaps a couple of them recognize the names “Parliament” or “Funkadelic,” and a few more than that may be able to sing along to “Flashlight” or “Give Up the Funk” from the group’s glory days. But, going through everyday life as a college student in 2017, it’s easy to feel like George Clinton and his band of musicians—formerly Parliament and Funkadelic separately, and now Parliament Funkadelic, are quite nearly forgotten funk legends. This wasn’t the case once George and his crew walked out on stage, gliding into “Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up” off of their most recent album, First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate. It was obvious that no one in House of Blues Boston that night would let George Clinton or Parliament Funkadelic be forgotten anytime soon.
Although George Clinton is doubtlessly the most famous and respected member of Parliament Funkadelic, both through the eyes of his audience and those of his bandmates, he did not act as such. While other members of the group were singing or playing, George would go over and point to them, drawing attention to those who were doing the most work at any given moment. He even took a seat back near the drummer many times throughout the show, giving all of the attention to his comrades, many of whom were much younger than him. No matter their age, every member of Parliament Funkadelic clearly sees George as either a father or big brother figure, treating him with reverence as well as feeling completely comfortable goofing around with him.
Continuing the positive messages which had been started by Nephrok! Allstars, Clinton led P Funk in “One Nation Under a Groove,” from the 1978 concept album of the same name, which preaches the power of funk to make us more open-minded, happy people (as well as better dancers). Despite being almost 40 years, old, the song had a fresh, painful significance, especially when being performed by a group of awe-inspiring people of color ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-70s, treating each other and everyone around them as equals. “Maggot Brain” was perhaps the most heart-wrenching song of a night otherwise filled with fun and whimsicality, because of George’s monologue prefacing the mournful 10+ guitar solo with,
“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time
For y’all have knocked her up
I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe
I was not offended
For I knew I had to rise above it all
Or drown in my own sh*t”
The odd juxtaposition of moments such as these, with an overall atmosphere of fun, peace, love, and color, made for an intense and incredibly entertaining night, leaving me with a sense of happiness, and a feeling that maybe, in a way, funk could really save us all.