Five Alarm Funk - photo by Darren McChristie

Five Alarm Funk is the kind of band that you have to get on the dance floor to appreciate. You could sit in your chair but, you’d be tapping your toes with so much enthusiasm that your flip flops would fall off. On July 27th, the Vancouver-based rhythm machine brought their unique brand of afro-funk to Crocks – the place was hopping, especially for a Tuesday night.

Picture 10 guys – four percussionists, two guitars, a bass, a saxophone, a trumpet and a trombone, squeezed onto the stage, ripping out horn and percussion-driven jams while performing a mix of choreographed (the Temptations after drinking a case of Red Bull) and not-so choreographed (the “any way you feel dance”) moves and you’ll have some idea of the energy this band brings to the stage.

Five Alarm Funk's Tayo Branston - photo by Darren McChristie

This was Five Alarm Funk’s second visit to Thunder Bay on their cross-Canada tour to promote their recently-released album, Anything is Possible. The show included tight arrangements from all three of their studio albums, songs like Voodoo Hairdo featuring groovy guitar, bass, and horn solos and a couple of frenetic drum solos. The ring leader and drummer, Tayo Branston, sung lead vocals on a few songs in a voice that is reminiscent of James Brown – Tayo has mastered the epitomic funk voice.

Five Alarm Funk’s’ wacky costumes (a mix that included vintage running shorts, a gorilla costume, and a hard hat) and stage antics made for a delirium-induced dance party. After two blazing sets of unstoppable rhythm, they returned to the stage for an encore – an instrumental and funked up rendition of Europe’s The Final Countdown. The audience chimed in on the chorus, which was impressive since the vast majority were probably a lot younger than the song itself.

The show marked Five Alarm Funk’s second visit to Thunder Bay this summer as they’d stopped in for a show on their trip east. A lot of fans seemed to be repeat customers and were ecstatic to hear the band declare that they would be back. In the meantime, you can check them out at

-Michelle McChristie

Feelin' the groove - photo by Darren McChristie

Five Alarm Funk - photo by Darren McChristie