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Funky Downtown

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007, at 10:48PM
Mandrill Ed Fuentes

Just as Saturday night's Grand Performance was about to begin, a retired couple from the City of Camarillo wandered in and asked those waiting what the crowd was for. "Summer concert with a group kinda like Parliament, the group that did 'Chocolate City'," someone said.

Richard Sharp then looked around asked "Where can I sit?' Sharp, who taught computer science at NYU in the 60s and 70s, went on to say that in NY this happens all the time. "You walk around and find music in the streets," before adding, "But, this is definitely L.A.". Then he and his wife found seats to watch Mandrill.

Mandrill started in the early 70s and still do their own style of P-Funk fusion and Saturday's performance shows that they are far from being a retro walk in the park. Their brassy richness was so funky, even the Watercourt fountain danced to the music during the last songs of each of the two sets.

The audience was a little short of the estimated 4,000 from the night before. Still, the masses included a goth-chick wearing black, a long-time Mandrill fan wearing Bootsy Collins style framed glasses and gold chains, a Santa Monica family of four all nodding heads in suburban synchronization, and a Latino/a couple wearing matching Dodger Jerseys sitting on their cooler.

Grand Performances has always had the diversity of Los Angeles in mind, and this year is no different as concerts continue on into September. With groups like Mandrill, California Plaza's nickname will soon be mixed-chocolate city.


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