Syracuse-based Sophistafunk has a mission: to destroy musical stereotypes. “There are only three of us and only two of us play instruments,” Sophistafunk keyboardist Adam Gold tells EW. “Everything is live, nothing is backtracked. We are a small-knit group making a big sound.” And for a trio, their sound is expansive. Gold plays a Fender Rhodes piano, clavinet and Moog synthesizer at every show, often tapping out synth bass with his left hand while jamming on melodies with his right, adding layers of backup vocals and beatboxing. Emanuel Washington, who grew up playing gospel drums in his church, adds a punchy beat to the jazzy-funk-hip-hop fusion reminiscent of The Roots. Leading the pack in its mission is the Buddy Holly-spectacled and plaid blazer-outfitted frontman Jack Brown.
“He’s blowing away stereotypes as to what hip hop means,” says Gold, whose brother Ari is co-owner of the Humble Beagle Pub in Eugene. “Positivity, world cultures, fighting against stereotypes. There’s no cursing. He’s always been writing positive lyrics. It attracts people young and old.” Brown does write catchy lyrics, but he fares much better when he sticks to personal experiences rather than sweeping themes like a post-racial world, where his rhymes can border on oversimplification, e.g. the track “Colors v2,” where he raps: “I was born seeing all colors. Different hair, different eyes, different skin — all brothers.” Also on their self-titled album, the track “Curtains” displays a more relatable authenticity through lyrics like, “All the things you said I shouldn’t have been believing in. Who would have known I should have feared the woman I was sleeping with?”
Regardless of how the lyrics hit you, the music has a danceable and clap-you-your-hands-able quality. This is the first West Coast tour for Sophistafunk. “If I can bring my music out West, I want to bring it out to Eugene,” Gold says.
Sophistafunk plays with Volifonix, Unique Syntax and Blairally All Stars 9 pm Sunday, Oct. 7, at WOW Hall; $10 adv., $12 door.