Words & Deeds

Canceled at Alive After Five, The Suffers feelin’ good about Sunday concert

The Suffers recently streamlined from a 10-piece into an eight-piece band. “Life happens. Tour happens,” explains singer Kam Franklin, fourth from right. “We’re still going strong.”
The Suffers recently streamlined from a 10-piece into an eight-piece band. “Life happens. Tour happens,” explains singer Kam Franklin, fourth from right. “We’re still going strong.”

In 2015, The Suffers got rained out of a chance to perform for thousands at Alive After Five, Boise’s outdoor summer concert series in Downtown Boise.

Yet the Houston group’s powerhouse singer, Kam Franklin, chuckles fondly about the memory.

Instead of gigging after a long drive to Boise, Franklin and conga player Jose Chapy” Luna hung out at The Record Exchange. They landed a pair of tickets to a Dawes concert that night at the Knitting Factory. Afterward — and after some drinks, Franklin adds — they met the California folk-rock group’s bass player.

“It ended up starting this really nice relationship between us and Dawes,” Franklin says. “They’ve become just really fun folks to run into on the road now. We can thank our Boise cancellation for that.”

Franklin’s cheerful recollection of that lost opportunity fits her permanently sunny disposition, which seems antithetical to a group named The Suffers. The “Gulf Coast soul” band will headline Sunday at Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., where they performed once before in early 2015.

The Suffers had barely quit their day jobs before that doomed Alive After Five gig. Since then, they’ve rocked “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Franklin also modeled for her own flamboyant, fun, plus-size fashion spread at Buzzfeed this spring.

“I feel like I am living one of the most blessed lives ever right now,” she says, “because I get to do this.”

Reviews of The Suffers almost always are complimentary. But they can be lazy, too, Franklin says. “It’s very easy to look at us and see, ‘OK, it’s a big band, they’re all dressed up, there’s horns. OK, let’s go ahead and group them with St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Sharon Jones or Leon Bridges.’ But when you actually listen to the music, I don’t hear the comparisons at all.”

Franklin thinks that her presence in the band sometimes affects the way people perceive The Suffers’ sound.

“We’ve also had a lot of people call us Alabama Shakes,” she says incredulously. “While we’re very happy to be mentioned even in the same realm as some of those bands ...” She laughs. “Hey, guys — come on, now!”

A third year of touring in 2017 — and a second full-length album, slated for fall — might further clarify The Suffers’ musical mission. Revivalist soul certainly is part of group’s arsenal, but the eight members also draw from Latin percussion and other eclectic influences. Franklin thinks that some of the less-common comparisons she’s heard — whether it’s Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Betty Wright or Gladys Knight — are more fair.

Not that she’s really complaining about any of this.

“This will be the first time we played Boise in quite some time,” she says. “We’ve gone through not only a musical evolution but also a fashion evolution. I’m excited to make a return, and let folks see the new show and let them make a decision on their own what they think they’re seeing or hearing.

“As long as they have a good time,” she adds with that infectious laugh, “I don’t care what they think.”

▪  7 p.m., $14 at TicketWeb, $16 at door. Opening: Jakubi.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

  Comments