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DâM FunK, Tortilla Factory, Zackey Force Punk: Club Congress, Wednesday, Sept. 12

As the first wave of audience members/ecstasy users filed into the club, local DJ Zackey Force Funk was blaring uncategorizable electronic dance noise. It was rousing; it was cutting-edge: Zackey Force Funk found a way to make early 1980s retro electro-funk sound as if he conceived it yesterday. His set was appreciated by the devoted, albeit small, group of spectators.

Tucson boys DJ Bonus and DJ Herm, together known as Tortilla Factory, scrambled onto the stage to prevent the loss of any of Zackey Force Funk's momentum. By this point, the dance floor was starting to fill up, so when Tortilla Factory hit the "play" button, their own take on electro, house and everything else they could throw into the mix absolutely exploded off the stage. They even played live synthesizers, much to the happiness of the musician police. The rapping thrown on top of the beats was serviceable, but as Public Enemy's Chuck D said way back in 1988, "I'm past the days of yes-y'allin."

Los Angeles' DâM FunK sashayed onto the stage and told the audience what he was going to do to them, in a hushed speaking voice. What he did was bring live instrument electro-funk, à la the Time, and Prince's early period. By this time, the ecstasy and/or alcohol had kicked in, and everyone was, well, ecstatic.

It should have been apparent by the time the songs started to sound like Bobby Brown, or something, that things were about to get strange. Then, without warning: DâM, who had been whispering into the microphone, yelled, "One, two, three, four!" Dee Dee Ramone-style, and the band screeched into an aggressive synth-punk song, with the emphasis on punk. After picking their jaws up off the floor, the audience members started a mini mosh pit (!) which continued through to the next song, a keytar-enhanced heavy-metal number.

The electro-funk returned after a few minutes, and when DâM FunK's set ended, everyone left with confused yet satisfied facial expressions. In a genre with strict rules for its subgenres, it was a very pleasant surprise to see an artist burn the electronic-music handbook.

More by Joshua Levine

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