Funk is just fun, plain and simple. It’s got to be one of the most universally appreciated genres of music. Even the most reserved people seem to struggle resisting the urge to get down and dance when the funk is hot, and some of the hottest funk Chicago has to offer is from Nasty Snacks.
The nine-piece group opened up In The Loop Productions’ Perse as Funk showcase Thursday, December 17th at Martyrs’ with a high-energy set of original music and soul covers of groups like Earth, Wind and Fire and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Christmas lights and decorations lined Martyrs’ spacious interior, and Nasty Snacks played a perfect song for the occasion. Christmas songs can be sort of sappy, but the band did a rendition of Vulfpeck’s “Christmas in L.A.” that spread holiday cheer without breaking the upbeat mold cast by the rest of the set.
While funk bands usually rely heavily on their horn section, Nasty Snacks also has two strong guitar players to take a load off the brass instruments. Guitarist Ryan Gac played with such energy he broke a string within the first few minutes, but quickly picked up another guitar and continued playing. Gac shared effect-heavy licks and solos with guitarist Colin Fahey, whose wild facial expressions showed just how much fun the band was having on stage. Fahey even busted out a chicken dance at one point when the band hit a groove, which may sound strange but was totally appropriate based off the energy they were creating.
While Nasty Snacks is talented enough that it could, hypothetically, stand alone as just an instrumental group, singer Catherine Poulos really takes them to the next level. She doesn’t sing during every song, and when she’s not performing she exits the stage and allows the band to do its thing. But she clearly lights a fire under them every time she returns. It’s evident Poulos can sing whatever the hell she wants and could successfully share the stage with just about anybody. She hits the sweet notes but also frequently unleashes a soulful, granular Susan Tedeschi-like growl. At one such point, a man in the crowd turned to his friend and said, “Damn.”
Unless you have the personality of a two-by-four, Nasty Snacks is a surefire good time. It’s hard to imagine someone not getting in the groove with this band. They’re currently in the process of writing new original music, which sounds promising based on other original songs performed at Perse as Funk.
Nasty Snacks’ next show is on February 19th at Lincoln Hall for Dunn Dunn Fest.