Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Played an Empty Fillmore, Thousands Missed Best Show Ever

See the full 30-photo Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings slideshow.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

The Fillmore Miami Beach

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Better Than: Anything that's ever happened to me.

Despite the fact I previewed this show with a music feature in last week's New Times, you'll find more words in this recap than there were people at last night's Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings set. Dismal turnout aside, however, Ms. Jones, the nine-piece Dap-Kings, and two incredibly gifted backup singers collectively known as the Dapettes, managed to transform the Fillmore from an overwhelmingly empty theater into an intimate, Soul Train-like dance party, complete with the funky chicken, camel walk, and boogaloo.

But before Daptone Records' biggest name took to the stage, the evening kicked off win an opening set by Bobby Lee Rodgers, a Miami-based rock 'n' roller with an uncanny ability to captivate an audience -- large or small -- with his brilliant, solo guitar act. After wrapping a 45-minute set with an eight-minute long blues-infused original, Rogers walked off stage and DJ Le Spam of Spam Allstars provided a funky soundtrack of 1960s soul before the Dap-Kings took the stage.

By the time Le Spam cleared the stage, a crowd of about 350 had rose from the seats and filled in the first three pits of the Fillmore's floor. Shortly after nine, the curtains raised to reveal the Dap-Kings. The nine-piece ensemble immediately broke into a medley of soul, displaying their stellar musicianship. Binky Griptite, the group's rhythm guitarist, welcomed everyone to the Daptone Super Soul Revue.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! How y'all doing tonight?" he asked, repeating his words to raise the crowd's energy. "I said, good evening, ladies and gentlemen! How y'all doing tonight?"

Serving as the night's emcee, Griptite went on to introduce two incredibly talented individuals, Starr Duncan, and Saundra Williams, Sharon Jones' backup singers. Both were given the opportunity to showcase their talents individually at center stage.

Duncan and Williams could tour the world headlining shows as full-fledged soul divas. If Jones is the Queen of Soul, her two Dapette sisters are equally capable of holding the throne. Until the day Duncan and Williams earn top billing, however, the world's lucky to have Sharon Jones.

At 54 years old, Sharon Jones has the energy of a young Aretha Franklin high off James Brown. Opening with "If You Call," Jones' intoxicating sound immediately hooked the crowd, and soon everyone was dancing. During "Without a Heart," she pulled a dude on stage to sing to, and dance with. We later learned his name was Rob.

And Jones pulled several other people on stage throughout the night. At one point, she had eight women dancing alongside her and the Dap-Kings. But the absolute highlight of the evening was the encore when she channeled the ghost of James Brown and passionately delivered "It's a man's world," reminding everyone that " wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl."

Critics Notebook

Personal Bias: Sharon Jones sang to me on the phone the other day; I fell in love.

The Crowd: Divorcee girls' night out, a handful of gays, and about 40 hipsters in a dismal turnout for the greatest show Miami's ever hosted.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm sure you get this all the time. But are you Christopher Walken?" The guy looked just like him.

Partial Set List: 

-"If You Call" 
-"Without a Heart" 
-"Give it Back"
-"When I Come Home" 
-"The Game Gets Old" 
-"Window Shopping" 
-"She Ain't a Child No More" 
-"Learned the Hard Way" 
-"Mama Don't Like My Man" 
-"Better Things" 
-"New Shoes" 
-"How do I let a Good Man Down?" 
-"100 Days, 100 Nights" 
-"It's a Man's World" (cover)

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