Bullfrog band returns to its home swamp

The amphibious Rana catesbeiana, otherwise known as the bullfrog, is indigenous to the southern reaches of Ontario and Quebec.
However, intensive touring and word-of-mouth buzz has brought Bullfrog’s swampy funk to the whole of urban North America.
The home-grown sextet, which was born by a spontaneous jam in 1994, returned to Montreal for a show at The Cabaret Nov. 29 before heading east to close out their eventful year.
For Bullfrog, 2001 has finally brought the release of their self-titled debut LP, and this tour has seen them share the stage with jam/dance mainstays The New Deal and DJ Logic.
Featuring the peerless turntablism of Eric (Kid Koala) San, and the rhymes of James (MC blurum 13) Sobers, Bullfrog presents funk with a catch.
As Kid Koala laid out for the receptive crowd at The Cabaret, “we’re gonna play some funk, but we’ll also play some hip-hop, some latin, some jazz and even some country.”
Bullfrog began its set with the eponymous “Bullfrog Theme”, characterized by the band’s own brand of crude funk enmeshed with San’s spastic loops.
Led primarily by Kid Koala, blurum 13 and guitarist/vocalist Mark Robertson, Bullfrog breezed through songs from their LP like the infectiously soulful “Ya Ya” and sarcastically titled “Music for Morning People”.
The set was punctuated by the hip-hop romp of “Reverse Psychology”, with the clever chorus, “Y-G-O-L-O-H-C-Y-S-P . . . reverse psychology.”
However, the night was truly highlighted by the performance of the kid known as Koala.
The audience’s attention focused, and jaws dropped in awe when halfway through the show the turntable instrumentalist was left alone onstage with his deck and his crate of vinyl.
Although his solo jaunt was sadly one of brevity, he displayed in those five minutes (and throughout the night) exactly why he is renowned as one of the world’s best scratch DJ’s.
His ability to take samples of music from any musical taxonomy, present and past, and create a seamless pastiche of sound is unparalleled.
And to watch his hands scratch with those wheels of steel is an awe-inspiring experience.
What was doubly impressive about Koala is that he managed to cohere with a group of conventional musicians in a band setting like Bullfrog.
He stepped back and shared the limelight, often adding little more than what the mix required. Yet, he is still the obvious lifeblood of the band.
Whereas, the rest of Bullfrog at times came off as unoriginal, anti-climactic, and boring, Kid Koala was creative, imaginative, and a pleasure to observe.
He smiles widely when he plays, because he knows that he’s good, and he loves what he does. It was hard to keep from running onstage just to squeeze that portly, boyish genius.
As they exited the stage before a satisfied crowd, the band promised more Montreal gigs in the the new year.
So, if you’re ever looking to get down, keep your ears to the ground for Kid Koala and his band Bullfrog.

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