Atlanta Passes the Russ Liquid Test with Funky Flying Colors
As I made my way into the already-packed Aisle 5 in the Little 5 Points neighborhood, Space Kadet was just settling into their long but captivating set. A drummer, percussionist, and DJ/keyboard player were joined by their new guitarist on stage, playing some massive funk rock jams. I got my first beer and joined the crowd as they swayed and danced, occasionally breaking into wilder jubilance whenever the guitarist would start to shred things up a bit more. It was their first night all playing together, but I thought they were a really tight outfit and I hope to see them again soon. At one point, Russ Liquid joined them on stage to lay down some trumpet on a track (listen to that live recording here), tossing a sharp brass element into an otherwise guitar-driven sound.
After Space Kadet, it was time for The Russ Liquid Test to deliver their headline performance. I had seen Russ Liquid once before at Gem & Jam 2017 (read my review of that weekend in Arizona here), and I had been quite impressed by his ability to build a funk set into some furious energy. At Aisle 5, his performance felt less heavy and more structured around the band rather than just being a DJ set with some live elements. He took us on a journey through funk that drew from so many influences, and the crowd ate it up. Hair and feet were flying for the whole event except when people stopped to stare at him blasting out crisp notes from his trumpet.
At a couple points, The Russ Liquid Test was joined on stage by some of the Dragon House dancers whose performances were a graceful and powerful accompaniment to the music. With moves ranging from tutting and robot-style body positioning to Thai-influenced group dances that simulated six arms on one body, they showed off their skills without stealing any thunder. It was a great addition to the show and pulled all the music together into context as multiple black art forms felt celebrated, not stolen. We live in a remix culture, and I’m in favor of anything that brings communities together like that, not in forced token expressions of unity, but in ways that push everyone to get lost in the music and stop caring about anything but love and happiness.
Photos by Megan Friddle for Bullet Music