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Live Review: All Mighty Senators @ The 8X10 (2009.12.26)

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MP3: All Mighty Senators – Culture Shock, Live @ All Good Music Festival 2008 from Live Music Archive

Of all the crimes committed in the first decade of the 21st Century, none may be greater than the fact that the All Mighty Senators did not become the biggest band in the world. Their music is a combination of hard grooving rock ‘n’ funk and an other-worldly stage show: lead singer and drummer Landis Expandis – usually decked out in some Superhero pimp outfit – standing front and center on a bright pink standup drum kit, guitarist Warren Boes and bassist Jack Denning flanking him, and a trio of horn players behind. The Senators blasted out weird transmissions of funk that seemed to originate from some planet that worshiped Parliament Funkadelic, Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, and the Meters with equal gusto.  The sound they create is a wholly unique musical experience.  There was a moment right before the decade dawned when it seemed like they might take over.  But bad luck, illness, and the usual band dysfunctions seemed to steal the wind from their sails.

For a generation of people in Baltimore, The All Mighty Senators, still represent the pinnacle of what live music can be.  And following Expandis’ lengthy battle with kidney failure, the band was off the road and out of the spotlight for far too long. All this made The Senators’ “Boxing Day” show (the day after Christmas for those who don’t know) that much more special.

179All Mighty Senators’ shows are high-octane affairs, with the band in a constant swirl of motion and energy.

Drummer Expandis is the center, bashing away, talking to the crowd, holding everything together. Longtime musical partner Boes  is an underrated guitar god, whose sharp lines give The Senators an edge that meshes ever so sly with the band’s deep underlining funk. Bassist Denning, with his thick tangle of hair and beard, seems to perpetually live in the pocket. The pair prowl either side of the stage, stomping and strutting as their giant steps move them from club to club.

Showing little wear from their lengthy time away, The Senators shook off the rust quickly, opening with a double dose of old school classics: “Trendsetter” and “Culture Shock.”  The crowd bounced along like they had never been gone.  It was a reaffirmation of everything that made The Senators great. A party that exploded from the stage the moment the first note was played?  Check.  Funk that made your ass drop into uncontrollable dancing? Definitely.  Songs that immediately had you singing along about Chuck Norris, flexing and releasing, having a fresh booty, and other absurdly awesome topics? You know that’s right.

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The night was an extensive affair, with The Senators working through a nearly two hour set before finally exhausting their setlist somewhere during the first encore.  This prompted Expandis to jokingly explain, “That’s it for the entire setlist, what can I say we have only been a band for a month.” After which they proceeded to play another five tunes before finally wrapping the night up with long time classic, “Kung Fu Masters” evolving out of the tail-end of a cover of the Ashford and Simpson staple “Rock.”

After that, after the lights had come on, after the band left the stage, after jumping up and down as if you were on a giant trampoline, after nearly twenty-five songs and two hours of rock ‘n’ soul, only after all that and more, did you finally feel as if a small bit of justice was served.

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2 Responses to “Live Review: All Mighty Senators @ The 8X10 (2009.12.26)”

  1. This is a great review. They are definitely a band that defines a certain time period in Baltimore Live Local Music. I had the pleasure of running sound, and hanging out with these guys for at least 15-20 Shows between 99′ and the early 2000s’. We are ALL Power Generators!!!

  2. Glen W says:

    Agreed. AMS not enjoying greater success is just not right. Went to many good shows at the Recher in the late 90′s too.

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