The line for Elise Testone’s James Brown Soul Party ran out the Pour House door on Wednesday night. Just like the venue filled with excited guests, the stage was jam-packed with an all-star Charleston ensemble. The band was dressed to impress: Local musician Lee Barbour played the electric guitar clad in leather American flag pants, Ben Wells strummed his bass in a dapper black suit and tie, and Testone, along with her backup singers Vikki Matsis and Rachel Kate Gillon dazzled in sequin frocks.
Fans came to the Pour House expecting an old school soul celebration, a party to revive a piece of their own James Brown spirit. And they got one. The dancing started as soon as Testone and Soul Power hit the stage. The crowd got down in afro wigs and tiger striped leotards. Even the three-piece horn section snapped their fingers in unison and swayed from side to side at the sound of the funk.
“It’s a man’s world,” Brown famously sang. But Testone proved a woman can belt out his covers with the best of them. Soul Power played tight, obviously having a great time performing. And vocally, Testone hit the Godfather of Soul’s signature high-pitched grunts and screams with precision. During the set break, DJ Daffadil spun remixed dance tracks of classics like “Hot Pants.” The second half of the show (complete with a costume change from the leading lady) ended with “The Payback” — (“I may not know karate, but I know ka-razy”), and an encore of “I Got the Feelin,’” at the audience’s persuasion.