By Sam Lawrence
Photos by Sara Vogt
Brothers Mark and Matt Hill really love funk, and they want to make sure you love it too. I can’t imagine any better ambassadors for the genre. From the minute they step on stage, their infectious energy hits the crowd and keeps the room high all night. It’s all smiles, little two-steps, and playful head-wobbles from the stage that let the audience know to relax, wiggle, and get with the groove.
Their current tour is supporting their new EP, Granola Jones. It’s a strong addition to their already impressive lineup of EPs and albums. Consistent with the rest of their parent label, All Good Records, they have all their music up for free on their website. This latest project is more harmonic and experimental than some of their earlier work. It’s a continuation of the Future Funk sound that has arisen out of Colorado in recent years.
Opening up the night, Sunsquabi were definitely on a similar funk level, though they took more of a jam-band approach. As the crowd began to fill in, I noticed a peculiar mix of festival hippies and the usual Buckhead, Southern money couples. Everyone quickly and seamlessly merged together into a swaying mass of nodding heads. Sunsquabi was a perfect opener and the poi dancers at the back of the venue were already warming up within ten minutes of their set starting. After the show, the band joined the crowd and talked to anyone who said hello to them in the congested line at the bar.
The Buckhead Theatre is such a great venue because it seems to magically expand and contract with each respective occupant of the stage. At times, the artists seem inches away, hanging in front of the audience, just barely out of reach. At others, the stage seems wide and the ceilings impossibly high, pouring forth light and sound from front to back. Sunsquabi, a three-man crew seemed to only occupy the center of the stage, as the modest “opener” lighting cast soft reds, purples, and greens across their instruments. The Floozies, however, while just a duo, filled the stage with their energy and sound, which was complemented by one of the better touring laser setups I’ve seen.
The lasers were arranged behind the artists, Pretty Lights style, going over the musicians heads in sweeping fans of light. They had also been adjusted for height to create two levels of depth to the spectacle, while not hitting any of the balcony audience in the eyes. It created a fantastic effect of dimensionality to the show, and looked amazing from the balcony above and down on the floor. The whole thing was reminiscent of an old Windows screensaver, with odd polygons of light bouncing around the venue in a dance with the retro-futuristic funk jams.
The Floozies don’t use a setlist, and they describe their playing together as almost telepathic. It certainly represents the best of free form improvisation backed by a lifetime of practice together. Their sound is so tight, so smooth, and so steady over the course of the entire show. The audience is sublimely lost for its duration. At the close of their set, they took a brief break off stage, only to return with the guitarist from Sunsquabi for a guitar-swapping, hectic jam that capped things off perfectly. There was no elaborate ruse about an “encore”, though. No forced begging from the audience, and a polite but clear goodnight to the crowd when the show was finally over. At no point did I get the impression that these guys were in it for fame, or money, or anything other than the love of funk.