Dâm-Funk to ‘Invite the Light’ at ‘Sco

Paul Mehnert

“If we invite the light, it will surely come to us / If we invite the funk, it will never let us down.” These words comprise the interlude to DâmFunk’s “Junie’s Re-Transmission,” a track off of his latest LP Invite the Light. Spoken by ’70s funk star Walter “Junie” Morrison, the lyrics are fuzzy yet confident and almost spiritual, like a divine message. Though only 18 seconds of the massive 90-minute record, this brief clip is a sort of encapsulation of Dâm-Funk and the music he makes. It’s abstract and maybe even a little hard to understand, but there’s something endearing in the message.

Dâm-Funk, who will perform at the ’Sco tonight at 10 p.m., is one of the most prominent outsider artists in funk music. Singer and producer Damon Garrett Riddick has been active under the Dâm-Funk moniker for over a decade. He signed to esteemed label Stones Throw in 2008 and has since established himself as one of its most prolific artists, releasing dozens of singles, EPs and compilations, as well as two massive studio albums and a full-length project with Snoop Dogg. 2009’s Toeachizown, a two-hour-long album, established Riddick’s patented sound and style, a mixture of vintage funk and synthworship with a modern sheen. The album sounds like a cross between Michael Jackson and Ariel Pink and presents Dâm-Funk as a sort of time capsule, full of enticing sounds from a long-past era of music re-examined through a psychedelic, slightly absurdist lens.

With his most recent effort, 2015’s Invite the Light, Riddick further solidified his spot in a lane of his own. Receiving praise from both Pitchfork and The Needle Drop, the album has garnered him a whole new level of popularity. Although Invite the Light sticks closely to Riddick’s already established sound, it is a beautiful testament to his ability to conjure up new song ideas within that mode.

The show was organized by College senior Alisa Yamasaki. She has been booking shows for Oberlin since her first year, and has introduced audiences to a variety of notable underground and independent electronic musicians including Soichi Terada, Mike Huckaby, Pharmakon, Aaron Dilloway, Aurora Halal and Via App. “I’ve really wanted to do a funk show in the ’Sco for a while,” Yamasaki said via Facebook. “And [Dâm-Funk] is probably the most relevant/popular in that genre who the ’Sco can still afford.”

She also said Riddick’s electronic-tinged style and the music’s danceability should appeal to an Oberlin audience. Yamasaki cited “I Wanna Thank You (For Stepping Into My Life),” “10 West” and “When I’m With U I Think of Her” as some of her favorite Dâm-Funk tracks.

Yamasaki said audience members should be ready to show off their dancing. “You will never see shows this cheap after you graduate,” she said. “I want to see a whole lot of dancing, so please come prepared! Practice those moves in a mirror, wear your sexy shirt and wear shoes with good traction because the floor’s gonna get sweaty.”

The show will also feature an opening performance by electronic music producer Stefan Ringer, known as Black Suede and REKchampa onstage. An exciting new name in the underground of electronic music, Ringer creates oddball melodies that expertly straddle the line between mechanical and soulful. It combines cold, calculated, repetitive beats with warmer live instrumentation. The result is a unique and dizzying amalgamation. Ringer’s music will pair well with the equally unconventional crooning of Dâm-Funk in one of the biggest shows of the semester.