A squad of pimped out low riders parked alongside the front entrance of the Honda Center last Saturday afternoon. They bounced up and down almost as if nodding along to the beats from the DJ booth that stood outside the entrance while DJ Cancun Joey and DJ Fana spun funk vinyl and got the mood for the thousands of people who waited in line to get into the 2018 Funk Fest brought by Curious Entertainment and All Star Concerts (the subject of this week’s cover story). Last weekend brought an electric crowd to the grass roots festival that’s grown into a sold out mega show. Some ladies dressed up in dresses and heels while others rocked a tank top with loose Dickies and Converse. Men came out in Levis and t-shirts while others wore Zoot Suits. No matter their wardrobe the crowd had one thing in common: They came to boogie to the hottest Funk lineup of the year.
Though the party vibes were already starting off strong outside, there was also some tension from Christians who found it fit to protest the concert and shame the concert goers as they stood in security lines. Five men and women held up huge banners that read things like “Repent Turn To Jesus Or Burn” and “Cry To God, Jesus Saves”. One of the men an older white man in Cargo pants, long white beard and black gloves yelled out slurs like “You are all sinners! drunks, druggies, whores.” Each time a new group of folks would walk by which was often he’d yell out more things like “Dude you’re old, get right with Jesus you come here to be a drunk, you’re more thirsty for your sins” and to the ladies he had things to say such as “C’mon ladies you think you’re still in high school with those outfits? Go home and cook a nice meal for your husband.. if you have a husband.” One lady yelled back “I love being a hoe!” many people applauded her while they old white man and his friends yelled out “I love Jesus, Jesus Saves!”. “We were at Huntington beach for the [U.S. Open of Surfing] and we heard about this concert so we decided to stop by” says Hana one of the preachers.
Inside the venue people were greeted by Christians again but these Christians were not harassing anyone. They had around 20 booths inside the Honda Center and wore TShirts that read “Do you need a Prayer?” and passed out pamphlets that offered church services and bible versus. “I used to be an alcoholic and drug user, Jesus saved me,” said Raul Sanchez, George Sanchez’ older brother, sitting in a suite looking down at the massive event his brother pulled off. “I know this George’s event but we are all believers of God and I asked him if I could provide this healing service and he let me so here they are.”
The acts were all on time starting with MTUME at 7pm followed by Howard Johnson at 7:15. Most of the performances were fast, 15 to 30 minute sets. The rotating stage allowed one performer to come out right after the previous one finished their last song and the crowd was with it. SanTana’s very own O’Bryan performed at 8:15pm, coming out in a white long fur jacket that almost fully came off as he performed his 1983 hit song “I’m Freaky”. “It was a packed house, good energy and the spinning stage was cool. I came in singing and I went off singing,” says O’Bryan backstage.
The crowd was loving the loud sounds of Funk bumping through the air and lights shining down from the ceilings. It was impossible to sit still or at least tap your foot along to the sounds of the Funktastic lineup. The only time people left there seats was to go to the bathroom or to buy a drink. Unfortunately it didn’t matter what floor you were on all the bars were at least a 15 minute wait and bathrooms were crowded especially the ladies restroom. By 10pm all the bars inside the Honda Center had shut down according to organizers because people were getting to intoxicated, people came in intoxicated. Security and police were on sight in and outside of the venue but fortunately for everyone no fights were provoked or arrests made. The crowd was diverse and energetic many of the concert goers were from Orange County and LA but there was a couple of people who drove down from the bay and even one group who flew over from Japan.
It was 9:45 Evelyn Champagne was getting low with her moves and high on her notes as she performed her iconic song “Love Come Down”. The Bar Kays performed a 40 minute set that got everyone out of their seats to dance along to all their greatest hits like “Freakshow on the Dance Floor” and “She Talks to my With Her Body”. They even covered the song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. It was an unexpected act to witness, a funk band covering an artist who’s song was inspired by bands like the Bar Kays. By the time there set was done around 10:55 p.m. people were still arriving to the show while others stood in line hoping to purchase last minute tickets. At this moment George Sanchez the Founder of Curious Entertainment came on stage to announce that he had made several of his dreams come true that night. One, organizing an event at the Honda Center and two selling out the Honda Center. They had sold 444 tickets that same day at the Honda Center doors allowing them to finally put up the Sold Out Logo on the Main Stage back Screen.
“Everything is a gamble, this was gamble of our money, time and effort and it all paid off” Sanchez said. “It was one for the books, we showed people who doubted us that we could deliver but I’m fuckin’ tired and even though it was a huge success we won’t be going back to the Honda Center,” George says assuringly. He plans on hosting next years Funk Fest at an outdoor place rather than an indoor venue like the Honda Center “We worked our asses off I didn’t get to sit down once. I just gotta tone it down for next year and work on that FunkChella idea” he says. When asked where he thinks he could host an event like FunkChella he replied “I have no fuckin idea but I got a whole year to figure it out. In the meanwhile stay posted for the Orange County Block Party.”