There’s a place in downtown Rochester called Funk ‘n Waffles. The name serves as a promise, and it more than follows through on its word. FnW’s wide variety of sweet and savory waffle creations are all a treat to dip into – my personal favorite is the Chicken & Waffle – but its biggest draw is its nightly live music. Crowded around a stage filled with vibrant, flavorful lights, audience members are treated to a wide variety of musical delicacies, ranging from jazz fusion to psychedelic rock, and everything in between.
Nazareth students are frequent guests at the premises due to the regular performances by several of Nazareth’s own bands. Walrus Junction, Baker Street, and Circuit Juicebox have each become mainstays of the FnW performance space, and their concerts draw out large swaths of friends and fans from our community. In this way, Funk ‘n Waffles is becoming an extension of the campus, bridging the gap between Naz and downtown Rochester music.
Circuit Juicebox, led by vocalist Sean Healey, is a blend of electronic indie and the decade’s best pop. They bring an ethereal presence to the stage, with Healey barely singing over a whisper at times, before launching into raw, emotional moments that grab your ears and refuse to let go. Their original pieces lean towards a slower pace, but they are enrapturing in their lyrical delivery, and the variety of synthesized tones that create a harmonious blend that is impossible to ignore.
Baker Street is the pinnacle of Rochester funk. Their lineups are consistently flowing and evolving with each performance, interspersed with long jam sessions. They also incorporate frequent audience participation, encouraging the crowd to sing along to slow reggae choruses. Their reggae tracks provide a pleasant contrast to the traditional funk and jazz stylings that comprise the remainder of their setlist. But they transition so fluidly from one set to another, you get swept away by the unceasing wave of rhythm and sound.
Walrus Junction has the strongest rock sound of the group, and much of their appeal stems from the performing prowess of Ignatius Marino, who takes the vocal lead on several of their original hits. His stage presence is unprecedented, dancing and moving with a ferocious energy while singing from the very depths of his inner self. With additional vocals from Tanner Kartes, the group blasts through song after song, each filled with an eclectic, youthful energy that is entirely their own.
Funk ‘n Waffles has become something of a cultural hub for Nazareth students. It’s a place just far enough off campus for students to come into their own, away from the responsibilities of school life. It welcomes musical experimentation of all kinds, and has provided the proving grounds for what is sure to become Rochester’s next big bands.
Baker Street and Walrus Junction will be performing at Funk ‘n Waffles’ costume party on October 25th.