Friday night in Amsterdam. Mamas Gun is playing at Sugarfactory near the touristy Leidseplein square. Lee the Jeweler and I have been on a quest to find some local experiences. I had been keeping an eye on the local event spaces in hopes an interesting or different show would jump out. Here is the description connected to Mamas Gun, “Mamas Gun’s music has been said to combine the euphoria of soul and Motown music with the spirit of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Average White Band at their blue-eyed-soul best.” Since most of the other events were either in Dutch or just said “Techno” it seemed like a good bet.
Sugarfactory sits across the street from their parent venue and converted milk bottling facility, Melkweg. I had walked through this square a few times but had never come down this side street. It reinforces my typical travel plans to ensure I leave as few stones unturned as possible. The narrow side street off the main square sits past a row of bars with outdoor seating under heated patio umbrellas. They looked so warm and was that a hookah I just saw? We knew it would be overpriced so paid no mind but yes, it was a hookah and that looks warm and cozy over there.
The ticket purchase process was bizarre. In addition to the tickets, we each had to buy a €4 membership to the venue which would last the month. This was added via the Ticketmaster site (which was not a fan of my login info from the US). Sure enough, they had to scan all four codes before we got to the mandatory coat check. The first-floor room was small. Perhaps it looked small when filled with tall Dutch folk. With only one entrance, I was sure there was more room on the far side. 4’10” Lee would soon manage to slip close to the front. She also helped save me by remembering to bring the earplugs. I was left in front of the speaker but managed a decent view. At one point the man in front of me starting filming the show as I was. His friends laughed and I assured them it was fine.
Mammas Gun had some fans in the crowd. They sang along, cheered a bit, and were certainly unfazed by the slow start and ongoing banter about when each song was written. We came expecting funky, soul and got more of a yacht rock/ elevator vibe. They did happen to nail that vibe so good on them. As the show (and banter) progressed, the songs got a bit more funky. Towards the end it really (relatively?) picked up.
I was stage right in front of the keyboard player who looked like the child of Rainn Wilson and Andy Kaufman dressed like Mr. Furley from Three’s Company. He squeezed some call and response into his solos and the crowd went with him. The drum and bass formed a solid pocket in each song, the vocal talent was incredible, the guitar was solid as well. The whole may have simply been a mismatch for our expectations.
Lee and I liked some of the same songs but she wanted the funk as well. I thought of a few playlists I have that they could sit in on.
That was our last trip to Sugarfactory and so our membership was a wash but the room was good and if the membership covers the main space across the street then I’ll definitely look out for events there on my next trip.