March 30, 2017
There is much that is atypical about Love Hustler.
For one thing, the band practiced and tinkered for more than 10 years before performing its first show.
For another, the band only has two members. But those two guys make it sound like they, in the words of Walt Whitman, "contain multitudes."
Love Hustler are longtime local music stalwarts and multi-instrumentalists Adam Rudolph and Matt Cashdollar.
While it is true that Love Hustler perform electronic music, the reality of what the band does is not fully addressed by that phrase.
Yes, Love Hustler make use of laptops. But Rudolph and Cashdollar also play instruments and sing.
Love Hustler don't remix or mash-up other artists' hits. They perform originals - the sort of originals that people take an instant liking to, unless they were brought up wrong.
Rudolph and Cashdollar call what they do electrofunk, and it is as ingratiating as some club music is punishing (at least to these middle-aged ears).
Advanced technology aside, Love Hustler's music is more old school than whatever the opposite of old school is.
Love Hustler began as strictly a studio project, Cashdollar said.
"We just wanted to record as much as possible," he said.
"And have as much fun as we possibly could," Rudolph added.
Cashdollar said it took a while for the guys to figure out how they were going to pull it all off live.
"For a long time, we were thinking, 'Why don't we just teach these to a band?'" he said. "He and I were in the Freak Brothers together."
Some Love Hustler material did make it into the Freak Brothers canon, Cashdollar said.
Then, about two years ago, the guys began to slowly construct an elaborate interlinked and interlocking performance system whereby all the elements of Love Hustler could come together on stage.
"There's been a little trial and error," Cashdollar said. "Syncing the lights with it - that was all him [Rudolph]. I was on vacation. I was in Florida for a week, and I came back and he said, 'There's a light show.' And was like, 'What?'"
Rudolph said he thinks the lighting solution he came up with had never been tried before.
Rudolph worried at first whether Love Hustler - an unusual concept in the grand scheme of electronic things - could find a place on the club scene.
"I just thought the DJs were going to look down at this or any idea like this," Rudolph said.
But the management at Hush, a downtown club, was intrigued rather than incredulous and asked the band to perform last summer.
"So they took a chance on us I feel like," he said. "We were very, very gracious to them. They saw the potential and we were like, 'Yes!'"
"They gambled on us," Cashdollar said. "Usually it's a DJ or a team of DJs and that's it. But we're a band. We're a band that functions in the role of a DJ."
Watching Love Hustler perform is a singular experience. It puts a person in mind of a "one man band," the pre-digital troubadour who played various instruments simultaneously with various appendages. Cashdollar and Rudolph do a lot of different things on stage and do them all well.
Love Hustler's roots in 80s funk are unmistakable. Cashdollar cites Zapp & Roger and Midnight Star as especially strong influences.
One of the more intriguing effects of some of the band's music, especially for a person who grew up during the 80s, is that it can bring you instantly and joyously back to that era, even though you are hearing the songs for the first time.
More contemporary influences include the British band Jamiroquai and the Canadian duo Chromeo.
"Chromeo [are] a two-man band and they are literally the genre that we're doing," Cashdollar said.
"They really pushed us to want to perform it, Rudolph said, "seeing what they're doing."
Now that these men have proved definitively that Love Hustler can work beautifully in a live setting, they plan to take the band outside Fort Wayne this summer.
"We want to get the band into different environments in other cities," Cashdollar said. "We would certainly love to see this on a festival stage and not just in Fort Wayne."
The guys don't have any lofty goals beyond having fun.
"We just want to take it where it's appreciated," Rudolph said. "If you worry about the music and just being good and making sure the music is good, I think everything else just takes care of itself."
The band's next performance at Hush is May 13.
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