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Culture Reviews
Fun Lovin’ Criminals
B2 Club 
By Erik Jansma
For those who know their music and reputation, no further introduction is needed. For those who don’t: this is a band that plays a relaxed mix of 70s soul, rap, rock, punk, and even calypso. The Criminal part of the name undoubtedly comes from the fact that many of the lyrics are about crime and/or criminals. But the Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ strength is that their songs are tongue-in-cheek, and composed and performed with style. Huey, the front man of the trio presents himself like he just walked out of a scene of the mafia series Sopranos.

The Fun Lovin’ part becomes clear when you just look at how the gentlemen take life and the music business: When they were put into a hired studio for two weeks by their first record company, it took the trio only five days to record their debut. The rest of the time was spent partying, leaving a huge alcohol and food bill –and a hit record.

I was not going to B2 to watch and hear the Fun Lovin’ Criminals perform just for their reputation. I went because the guys actually make very nice records and I never saw them live. My expectations were high.

The start of the gig immediately presented the biggest minus of the whole performance: the sound was bad, very bad. Bass and drum were way too dominant, making other instruments and the singing and rapping inaudible. Huey was gesturing and moving his mouth, but what he was trying to sing will remain a mystery forever. This was caused by the sound-mixing table being positioned at the side of the stage, rather than in front of it. The sound technician therefore seemed to mix with the monitor speakers (that provide the sound for the band itself) rather than the overload of decibels that the audience was treated to. I was surprised, as I went on March 10th, which was the second night that Fun Lovin’ Criminals performed, so I would have expected differently.

It only got better at around the time when “Korean Bodega” and other songs from the records “Come Find Yourself” and “100% Columbian” were played. Maybe, the mixing got better, maybe my tolerance got higher. The latter is more likely as Fun Lovin’ Criminals put down an actually very good show. Forget the reputation and the lyrics, these guys do know how to play instruments! Founding member Fast played all trumpets, bass and keys, live on stage and making the sound as rich as on the records. New drummer Frank the Rhythm Man did not miss a beat and Huey made sure that guitar riffs and solos provided a finishing touch. The three got the crowd going, both by performance and charisma, and everyone, the band included, seemed to love it. I know I did!

After the initial “bye-bye, love y’all”, a lengthy encore followed. Then, finally, gig was concluded by the band’s own anthem with the chorus: “Stick it up, punk, it’s the Fun Lovin’ Criminals!”

I only then noticed I was robbed of my ears…

15.03.06
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