“We are The Coup from Oakland, California, and we came to funk,” declared vigorously soulful frontman Boots Riley, sporting a fur trench coat that perfectly complemented his Afro and fist-sized mutton chops. “We’re tired of watching people watch their lives go by,” he continued. “It’s time to take control!”
In an alternate post-apocalyptic, post-societal-breakdown reality, house band for the underground base of our sweet rebellion would almost certainly be The Coup. On Friday night at UCSB, each of The Coup’s five members showcased their spectacular talents to the point that every song eventually devolved into a delightful marketplace of instrumental solos and high fives. There were four, maybe five, guitar solos that felt like revelations, each of which brought the crowd’s arms into the air with equal parts delight and revolutionary fist raising.
Meanwhile, Riley acted as emcee, singer, and preacher, taking several moments in between songs to extoll the crowd on their individual and cooperative capacity to inspire and enact change. A few iPhones were whipped out to record Boots’s mini-sermons, though one can be sure they didn’t make it to Instagram. In fact, the crowd in the MultiCultural Center seemed uniquely uninterested in taking pictures or recording videos of the night’s events (save for one well-intentioned iPad wielder). For two hours, the most important thing on the mind of everyone in attendance was the show happening onstage — a rarity in 2015, especially on a college campus. In that way alone, on Friday night, it felt like The Coup and Boots Riley started a revolution.