Sexual Thunder! wreaks perfect storm of pleasurable grooves at Sexyfest 2017

sexyfest

Local New Orleans band Sexual Thunder! brought “Pleasure to the People.” No, really.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, in a gloriously extravagant yet unexpectedly personal release party, Sexual Thunder! debuted their latest album, “Pleasure to the People,” at The Howlin’ Wolf to the sensual pleasure of music aficionados and casual listeners alike. Accompanied by a handful of New Orleans’ most talented up-and-coming bands, visual artists, and dancers, they ensured that the aptly titled event, SexyFest 2017, more than lived up to its name.

Just ask anyone who stopped by The Howlin’ Wolf that night — the overall experience was a sexual awakening so relentless and intense it would give even the chastest nun dirty second thoughts. Between the semi-nude erotic photography and professionally applied full-frontal body paint, SexyFest certainly satisfied its quota of loin-arousing imagery. But that was only the tip of the iceberg (sexual pun intended).

Decked out in regalia pulled straight from a homophobic parent’s nightmare, Sexual Thunder! doubtlessly kept their word when their lead keyboarder and vocalist promised to “give [the audience] pleasure, y’all.”  But it didn’t end there, not even close.

Standout tracks “Round and Round” and “Jewlius Pleaser” incited the audience’s insatiable passions, proving the impossibility of keeping a still foot at any point during the performance. The latter song was, incidentally, accompanied by a bold costume change from the lead saxophonist into a shiny golden Roman-style toga.

After his bandmates carried him back onstage on a raised litter, chanting ceremonially all the while, the saxophonist — complete with gold face paint and trademark dark glasses — belted out a raging solo, with a tone thick with more C’s than a high school dropout’s report card. The audience was driven utterly, euphorically ballistic.

SexyFest’s performances had a little something special for everyone. While avid music enthusiasts stood mesmerized by the bands’ passion and peerless musicality (an admitted but pleasant surprise), less artistically-versed hooligans remained transfixed nonetheless. To the casual listener, both Sexual Thunder! themselves and their myriad of openers sounded almost like the funk-blues equivalence of prehistoric jam bands like The Grateful Dead and Phish. Sexy folks of all ages, backgrounds and levels of musical experience were free to jam out together as one cohesive, decidedly un-sober mosh.

Even then, it wasn’t just Sexual Thunder! who stole the show. While opener Miss Mojo captivated listeners with the back-and-forth firework soul of its dual lead singers and rootsy funk grooves, Khris Royal and Dark Matter brought to the stage outrageously infectious levels of attitude and enthusiasm, demonstrated through Royal’s own sultry saxophone riffs and their drummer’s perpetual white grin.

With a smile as dazzling as a solar eclipse and as contagious as the Zika virus, Dark Matter’s drummer provided percussively melodic beats which, when combined with the strength of the lead vocals and horn section, elicited a funky stupor in even the most stoic audience members. SexyFest was, then, exactly what it claimed to be.