pretty lights

The Floozies and Sunsquabi bring the funk to Buckhead

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Manic Focus brings Future Funk and Happiness to Terminal West

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By Sam Lawrence

Nobody is having more fun at a Manic Focus show than Manic Focus. His exuberance is infectious as he sways back and forth, punching and hugging the air in front of himself. Strapped to his left wrist is a futuristic little beatpad with illuminated squares of purple and green that are rarely stationary long enough to be anything but a rainbow blur.

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This show was a friendly, casual affair at Terminal West. The Thursday night crowd didn’t sell the floor out, so a long table was left up at the back of the audience where people could sit, rest their drinks, or, in the case of one inebriated fellow, take a little nap. The crowd was well spaced out, full of smiles. From what I observed, many strangers became friends that night.

Artifakts kicked things off with a welcoming opening set of cheery, funky, mid-tempo hip-hop beats. We ate during most of his set at Terminal West’s (fantastic) adjacent restaurant, Stationside. If you like spice, I highly recommend the chicken empanadas with the salsa verde, or, if you don’t eat meat, the tempura avocado or maduros with whipped chipotle honey are great vegetarian options.

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Next up were Atlanta locals, Modern Measure, a two-man team of bass guitarist / dj and drummer. They kicked things up a notch with some trap and hip-hop remixes before settling into a funky groove. They’re an odd pair. A highly enthusiastic drummer bashing his drums and holding his sticks aloft with all the drama of a rockstar in the 80s, while the DJ/Bassist sports a much calmer demeanor and seems to almost disappear into his instrument.

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By the time Manic Focus came out, the crowd was swaying and bobbing heads, and starting to get comfortable around each other. He threw out a great set of future funk and jazzy hip-hop which he easily riffed over on a keyboard, mixing in song selections and effects from the little controller on his wrist. A live drummer joined him on stage as well. The ambiance became reminiscent of a rock and roll show, with slightly funkier, bassier music.

 
 

An artist like Manic Focus, and indeed all his companion’s on Griz’s All Good Records, speaks to the roots of American music, reaching deep into the history of funk, blues, and rock. Coupling those folky feelings with modern bass beats and hip-hop vibes. It’s the sort of music that makes you wish you were at a house party with everyone in the crowd, or even wonder if perhaps that’s exactly where you’re at. My companion and I were able to freely move around the entire venue with ease, order drinks without shouting, and met several new people in the crowd, having conversations just feet from the stage. Hat pins were inspected, stickers and cards exchanged, and I had countless daps and high fives with strangers all night.

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The show was mostly continuous with very few gaps in the music, or dialog between artist and audience. To wrap things up, Manic Focus brought out all of the openers to the stage and they had a DJ / Bass Guitar / Drum Kit / Bongo jam session to close out the night. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was heart-warming, and I couldn’t help leaving with the impression that those guys on stage were living their lives in the happiest way they could imagine.

I personally am not the biggest follower of future funk, or even Manic Focus’ music (though I recognize its quality). However, I left impressed at how much joy he takes in performing his music, and what a positive community surrounds the genre. Even though I didn’t know many of the songs, and am by no means a serious fan, I really enjoyed myself. I felt like everyone in attendance did too. For an artist signed to “All Good Records,” I couldn’t have asked for anything more than that.

 
 

15 Reasons Why Suwannee Hulaween was the Best Festival of 2015

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By Liz Turcotte

Photos by Chris Monaghan

For this year’s Hulaween festivities, we invited our correspondent Liz Turcotte down from Atlanta to experience her first Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park event. Liz is a pro-festy, and can set up a 4-person camp in 30 minutes flat – complete with Halloween decorations and a giving tent. As someone new to the park, but experienced in large attendance festivals, Liz offers a fresh perspective on Suwannee Hulaween. As an added bonus, it was her birthday weekend – and as you can tell from her article below, she had a blast. Welcome to SOSMP & Florida Music Blog!

1. Location, location, location The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is nestled right off of Interstate 75 in Live Oak, Florida. As soon as you drive onto the property, an almost euphoric feeling takes over and you feel right at home between the Spanish moss and unspoiled forest. SOSMP is home to over 25 music festivals like Suwannee River Jam, Wanee Music Festival and Purple Hatters Ball, just to name a few.

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Continue reading the entire post here.