I splash my way to Aisle 5 Friday night. The storm that had just passed over us had made it hard to leave my apartment, but I'm braving the weather for good music, perhaps one of the only things that could have made me leave the house. The venue is not far from where I live and I’m comfortable with the walk, despite the poorly lit streets and sometimes hazardous sidewalks. One of my friends from back home is in town for the Sweetwater 420 festival and I invited him to join me in watching the bands. As I queue up to go inside I hear my name and smile, my friend is already here and is grinning lazily at me. Obviously he’s been having fun.
We go inside and he buys me a Moscow mule. We go sit in chairs against the wall and listen to first opener, Tree Tops, a “progressive groove rock” band from Knoxville, Tenn. With hard drums, jazz riffs and smooth vocals they are a strong start to the evening. As the crowd continues to trickle in, my friend Ryan and I step outside for a cigarette. In the five minutes we are outside the small venue fills up. We wind back through the crowd and find our seats still available, most people seem to prefer standing. Blue wristbands are everywhere, the Sweetwater 420 after party is a success.
It is also a very important night for local band and headliner, Funk You. This party marks the debut of their album Apparitions. Before they take the stage there is one more opener, The Get Right Band. Hailing from Asheville, NC this rock/reggae band is a high energy, feel good, get your ass out on the floor and dance experience. They are perfect for the still hyped up crowd who have been partying all day and aren’t ready to calm down just yet. By the time they are finished the venue is full to bursting, a welcome site to Georgia’s own Funk You.
The band hits the ground running with the bold funk grooves of “Supernatural” off of their new album. They have set the bar high with such a solid opening song and as they play they surpass it. There are zydeco influenced breaks mixed with soaring jazz melodies countered by rocking guitar riffs that absorb the crowd. Ethereal sound effects make your mind wander then blues keyboard brings you back to the red Georgia clay. The thrasher who high-fived us after a particularly frenzied guitar solo is now swaying and singing with the crowd to a well-timed cover of Prince’s “1999.” Purple lights shine down on faces that smile with love and respect, tinged with sadness.
The crowd thins out before the show is over. It’s been a long day for most of them and this is just the start of the weekend. People walk out together, some needing a little more help than others to make it home safely. Funk You represented Georgia well and the crowd is pleased. They are quickly earning their way up the musical latter and are being welcomed with open arms.
My friend and I call it a night. He walks me home and we chat about the show. He had a great time and thanks me for inviting him out. We part ways with promises to meet up at the festival the next day. Funk You played at Sweetwater as well, a serious step and well deserved step in their musical career.
Photos by Sara Vogt for Bullet Music.