Walking down Newark’s Main Street, it was the sound of drums that got your attention. The rhythmic beat crept out of Home Grown Café, slid down the sidewalk and whispered into your ear, enticing you to come find who was making this delightful sound. When you enter Home Grown you find that it is the Universal Funk Order (UFO) making the sound; a local, self-proclaimed R&B/Soul/Funk/Rock band.
If you came for the drum, you stayed for the saxophone. It danced around the room like sly child, tapping you on the shoulder and running away when you turned around. The sax player was up front and center and was quite impressive. But then again, each member of UFO was impressive. The base player plucked his base with so much charisma and confidence that you couldn’t be anything other than envious. He slapped and flicked his wrist all while dancing to the beat with his eyes closed. He never missed a beat or a step. The base sound was seductive, cool, and smooth, like a giant piece of chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory. But the most impressive part was how they were able to keep this going for so long and not having a lead singer to sing over the jazzy music they were making.
The second song had a Jamaican feel to it. You expected Rastafarian colored flags to pop out and the band to put on fake dreads. It was the type of music you would listen to while drinking a Bahama Mama and swaying in the breeze. It swept over the place like silk. After a few minute of just music, a short scruffy looking man jumped up on stage and the sheer power in his voice made the room stand at attention. Even though he sang the same line, “I can’t find myself” over and over again, he gave out nothing but goose bumps. In between his one line, he would talk to people in the crowed, laughing and sipping his beer. Then, right on cue, he sang his line with just as much power and gusto as before. This song continued this way for a half hour.
As the night went on more and more people stopped paying attention to the marvel that was on stage. They drank their drinks and spoke to their friends all the while ignoring the band that had been playing their hearts out. Even though this was happening, UFO played like they had a sold out show, filling the area up with breathtaking music. They came, they played, they impressed.