Tucked in back with alley access on a gravel parking lot behind Union Squared Pizza, music patrons experienced a transformed environment as SPACE Evanston held their first public, socially-distanced concert for a new performance series. It’s titled Out of SPACE. A fitting double entendre. The debut event featured two performances by local favorites Funkadesi.
Taking all the necessary precautionary measures for a safer public event; masks, temperature checks, and distance between tables, staff was on top of it in their temporary big top tent.
For anyone who has attended Burning Man, one’s imagination could quickly go to Center Camp’s live music stage. The temporal nature of creating in a momentary refuge. Shared for the delight of creative, human connection to us weary travelers. A safe haven from “the default world”. The immediacy of enjoying the present moment full of the exotic, and original sounds beyond a world music label. This all added up to the best type of connection with live music. That special space between the performer and the audience. For the most part, people even put their phones away and enjoyed being in the moment.
If there is one thing that stands out, we Chicagoans are fortunate to have an incredible trove of local artists who can bring us international music. And top of the list is Funkadesi. Self-described as a blend of Indian music — bhangra, Bollywood, Indian folk — with reggae, funk, and Afro-Caribbean grooves, no one word can describe them. But it is easy to identify their inspiration.
Early in their set, singer Pavithra introduced a song “Baday Chalo”, that translates to “walk on”. It takes on the invitation to “walk with me” sharing the thought for our humanity to move forward together. A timely message of hope.
Ensemble member Rahul Sharma noted on his Facebook home page: “I wept. Last night, coming back from our two sold out shows, having played for about 3 hours with a Funkadesi quintet, I had to lay down on my basement couch with the lights off and weep. I did not realize just how much I needed this. We (the band) needed this. And, it seems, the crowd needed it too.” I could not have agreed more.
As far as live music goes, this was particularly infectious that night.