In a breakthrough show that gave Go-Go new-found respectability, music icons Big Tony and Trouble Funk brought DC’s Official Music to Wolf Trap’s Filene Center in the plush suburbs of Northern Virginia hunt country.
Legendary Sugar Bear and DJ Kool joined front man “Big Tony” Fisher in what he described as their first “Big Gig” back as they become the first Go-Go band to headline at the landmark National Park Service music-and-entertainment center where wine and cheese competed with bongos and blunts.
The Original Gangsters of Go-Go have been cranking for 45 years and started out as Trouble Band & Show opening for Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers back in the day but had a major breakthrough by taking their inner-city sound to The Paragon II in Georgetown in the late 1990s.
So they are no newcomers to setting national trends as they were the first local Go-Go band to get a national record deal with Sugar Hill Records as their hit “Drop the Bomb” was released outside of DC exposing the nation to DC’s best beats.
After Sugar Bear headlined and opened the BET Awards in 2020, Go-Go was front and center after Mayor Muriel Bowser recognized Go-Go as DC’s Official Music in February of that year right before the COVID pandemic stopped the hottest new musical trend dead in its tracks.
But Sunday night at Wolf Trap it was a nonstop two-and-a-half-hour Go-Go history lesson on stage as Legendary DJ Kool kicked it off with a 45-minute one-man house party as the crowd from the top of the picnic area lawn to the honeys on the front row got on their feet and rolled with his new “Cha Cha Cha” beat that he just dropped on YouTube.
Then the Dirty Dozen from Trouble Funk surrounded DJ Kool and seamlessly started cranking their distinctive beats as “Big Tony” Fisher held court in the King’s Chair on stage right, and thanked Wolf Trap for the invitation to host the first Go-Go performance on their 50th Anniversary.
They covered all of their top hits like “Ain’t No Funk Like Trouble Funk,” “Grip It,” and to the delight of the truly diverse crowd, “Shake It Like a White Girl,” as the DC contingent from the 20020 East of the River zipcode two-stepped in the aisles everywhere along with 20176 zipsters from Leesburg.
And then the truly legendary Sugar Bear joined “Big Tony” and dropped an extended version of his mega hit “Da Butt,” which was the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s 1988 hit comedy School Daze.
After Sugar Bear thanked the crowd for “loving our Go-Go culture,” DJ Kool came back to join the 12-member Trouble Funk band for an over-the-top finale of “People Make the World Go Round” as Big Tony reminded everyone that “they giving us three more minutes” to shut the house down as the crowd danced out of the Filene Pavilion after 10:30 on Sunday night.
Big Tony and Trouble Funk played July 18, 2021, at Wolf Trap, brought to the Filene Center by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. For information about future individual performances at Wolf Trap, see the website calendar at wolftrap.org/calendar.
Tickets for June and July performances will be sold in socially distanced pods (seated groups of 2 to 8 tickets). Ticket buyers will be responsible for buying a full pod; no single tickets will be sold. All tickets will be delivered electronically. August and September performances will be full capacity and will follow local, state, and federal government health guidelines.
Tickets may be purchased online at wolftrap.org or by phone at 877.WOLFTRAP. Prices vary by performance and pod location and are subject to change. Additional information, amenities, and protocols will be posted to the Wolf Trap website.