January 08, 2004
The drummer wore a dress, the bassist was a pimp, and the guitarist was a king. It was costume night Thursday when local blues/rock quintet Sol Fiya took the stage at Lounge Lizards. Much of the audience also partook from the three racks of thrifty wear to the side of the stage. The costumes were great icebreakers, and they created a party atmosphere.
The band fed that theme with their jam band sound and roadhouse feel. They were drummer Sammons, bassist McDonald, pianist Burkart, guitarist Mule and vocalist/guitarist Boone.
The band were a descendent of The Allman Brothers and The North Mississippi All-Stars sound. The music was driving, and Burkart had a fun Meters thing going with his re-creation of an organ sound. The two guitars were the music’s focus; you could have mumbled any lyric all night. Still, Sammons was the key, with his loose yet solid playing.
When a lot of rock bands are called “jammy,” this happens because the rock bands incorporate extended solos which are normally only seen in jazz. A big problem was that Sol Fiya soloed at the same time without listening to each other, and it was annoying. Luckily, they were tight, and they knew when to change the tempo to keep things interesting.
The band’s main problem was their lack of charisma. The singing wasn’t very forceful or confident, and they barely spoke to the audience. This created a distance.
By the end of the night, the verdict was that the band wasn’t bad, not too great---just mediocre. Kudos to the venue for creating great sound and making itself a popular stop for talented bands and their fans.
The band's French Quarter Fest show wasn't much better, but at least by this time I knew Mule was the one to look at. In contrast, they seemed to be much better when going at full speed. They closed their set with a jam full of punk energy that kept building until…well, you know what. The set ended.