Brighton is a city that knows how to party and popping along to see Carnival Collective at the Komedia was certainly that.
Arriving at the train station whilst I awaited to be picked up by friends I was treated to a beatboxing floutist working through an incredibly fleshy Prodigy cover, considering he was a lone musician it was a full sound, I stopped, watched, smoked a cigarette and nodded my head. As I left to usher in the next chapter of the evening I emptied my wallet of change tipping my hat to his.
Komedia didn’t open doors until 11pm, we knew we were in for an early morning but the rabbit hole was far deeper than even that. With just about enough time to grab a beer and pop back out for a cigarette before the New York Brass Band take to the stage. A body shaking mix of bold brassy covers and original material they’re a band that serve up something for everyone. Towards the climax of their explosive set they climb down into the crowd as we raise our glasses in appreciation following them round in a pied piper led samba line snaking throughout the venue.
Soaked in sweat and ready to dance our goddamn hearts out it’s not long before the Carnival Collective start amassing. Already invading the crowd they’re around 30 members strong or so it seems. The expansive rhythm section provide a three deep barrier between the crowd and the stage, however it’s the kind of barrier that smiles and dances along with you so for all effects and purposes it makes the experience more intimate and exciting. To have so many instruments and musicians all moving as one and finding a harmony is no easy feat and it’s impressive to observe the passion and professionalism with which it’s done. Carnival Collective are a mobile festival, bringing the party atmosphere and abandon that goes along with it. They don’t take to the stage until 1am which seems completely appropriate, the entire crowd is already in a fevered frenzy from the liqour and music that came before, the band don’t disappoint and from the first beat of the drum it’s clear this is going to be a bone shaking boogie. There is almost something shamanic in the pounding of the drums and it summons the inner monster from within letting the crowd give in to a primal need to jiggle their booties, you can feel the beating reverberate in your very bones. The brass section, guitars and other instruments playing out over the top of the rhythm section are tight and melodic creating the soundscape that the beat feeds upon. It’s an intricate mix and something that deserves much more than my own foggy drunk brain to properly appreciate, after such a fantastic gig though it’s easy to dive into their ever growing discography where the studio allows for a more fine tuned sound. What they do live however is something special, they clearly have fun with what they’re doing, a sublime mix of crazy covers and original material. Keep an eye on the band page and their upcoming schedule, this is something you absolutely have to hear and feel for yourselves.
Words by Matt Miles