If you’re not having a good time at a Mercy Funk show, you’re probably doing it wrong. Equal parts pop, funk, R&B and a glitzy style, Mercy Funk feed off their audience and bring the party everywhere they go.
The group performs in various incarnations. At low-key shows you may only see the five core members, or they may expand the roster to eleven performers at larger capacity events. At bigger shows they add keyboards, a horn section and back-up vocals to accentuate their already full-bodied sound.
If you’re expecting to hear the songs on their self-titled debut EP exactly as they are recorded, you may be out of luck. Bassist and co-founder Angela Proulx explained that their recorded material is a template for what comes out on stage.
“It’s not really a thing that we discuss but really something that we pass around. When we play a song it’s rarely the exact same every time. We’ll judge who is playing with us and what we’re feeling in the moment,” she says of the live show. “It’s very much like a head nod on stage like ‘you take this one.’ Or if I’m feeling a bass solo, then usually they can tell I’m getting all fired up and ready to go.”
Many bass players don’t start out with the instrument, but rather pick it up because someone needs someone to fill that spot. Proulx was one of those musicians, picking it up out of necessity. Once she dove into the instrument, she found influences that would hold her interest and then some.
“I was a guitarist initially and kept being put into situations where I had to play bass. I was browsing through the Internet and I discovered Bootsy Collins and Funkadelic and I went absolutely nuts. I decided that’s what I’m doing from now on—playing funk music.”
After falling in love with the bass guitar, her next step was to find cohorts to help her create the sounds she was envisioning. She called up a few of her musically inclined friends who introduced her to vocalist Crystal Eyo. The two hit it off and performed a few shows together, but let the project simmer.
Proulx began jamming with drummer Christan Maslyk and guitarist Allan Pangburn in Morinville where they all worked. The trio was eventually joined by Eyo, solidifying the core of the band.
When writing songs, the core members bring in the foundation of the song and the rest of the band fills it out equally. This dynamic changes once other members join on stage.
“Some of us will individually write a song that is pretty well fully formed and we’ll bring it to the band. Of course it’s going to change from there when you add other people. Sometimes Crystal and I will sit there and just play and it’ll turn into a song,” Proulx says.
When going to a Mercy Funk show, it’s always important to consider style. The members aren’t shy in how they dress in their day to day lives and that is amplified when performing. All gold is the theme for their upcoming show at The Needle. You dress up, they’ll bring the party.
Fri., Nov. 11, (8pm)
Mercy Funk w/ guests
The Needle, $12 in advance, $15 at the door