The Floozies staying funky in Nashville with the Too Many Zooz.
My weekend began on Friday afternoon, an hour and thirty minute drive from Jacksonville to Live Oak. My best friend was by my side as good company all weekend. This was a surprise to me, I had originally planned on trekking solo.
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.
By Clara Goode
Photos by Ryan Purcell
Gramatik continued the North American promotion tour for his latest EP, “Epigram,” with a sold out performance at the Georgia Theatre in Athens last Wednesday night. The venue itself is beautiful. It consists of multiple balcony levels, a rooftop bar, and a photo gallery which I wandered through before the show began. The dance floor is smaller than I expected. However, with the incredible balconies you are almost guaranteed to be able to find a place to see the stage clearly.
Jenaux, the first opener, comes on stage at around 8:45 p.m. The crowd is still small at this point, but grows steadily through his set. It is a bit of a rough start for the show. His set is good, but feels a little underdeveloped with too long pauses between tracks and jarring genre changes that make continuous dancing a little difficult. The crowd, however is very encouraging, showing him affection when he plays a track that really encourages them to dance, then swaying and sipping on drinks when the tempo slows.
Brasstracks takes the stage next. The duo of brass and drums played a mix heavy with hip hop, drawing yells of appreciation from the young audience. Rap and dubstep overlaid with live trumpet and percussion is a definite win to the college crowd of tank tops and cargo shorts. The scene is dotted with a few hippy chicks and members of the alternative crowd, but for the most part, cheap beer and backwards caps abound. Brasstracks keeps the energy high and the dance floor is fills quickly through their set.
By the time Gramatik takes the stage, the venue is full to bursting. I tried to push my way to the front, but soon thought better of it after realizing that even if I made it, dancing would be a difficult and possibly painful experience. I retreat to one of the multiple balconies, affording myself a better view and more room to move. The show is excellent, though not what I expected. His sound is heavier, darker, more hip hop and dubstep than the chill jazz groove of his older music.
The crowd is not the least bit disappointed in the deviation, which has been heard over the last couple of years in albums like the “#digitalfreedom EP” that came out in 2015 and his most recent EP, Epigram which dropped this year. Gramatik's last couple of albums have moved away from funky swing rhythms and have adopted a much darker tone. Andrew Block, a New Orleans based funk, soul and rhythm & blues guitar player joins Gramatik on stage for some added flavor to the show. The dancers who moved to stage level during Brasstracks are now part of the packed mass that is moving together, chanting along and yelling with the music. They bounce to deep rhythms and popular hip hop samples, belting the lyrics and cheering when they recognize a favorite.
The light show is incredible. The backdrop constantly changes between images and patterns all equally bright and captivating. Scenes play in vivid lights, from cute robots, to monsters, to a bold nod toward the online hacker community Anonymous, with alternating shots of their question mark logo mixed with a mass of Guy Fawkes masks. It's a fully entertaining performance.
Last year was a year of huge success for the producer with a world tour, a feature on the Netflix original, “Narcos,” and an interview with CNN’s Lisa Lang. With a sold-out and happy crowd, Gramatik’s visit to Athens is a promising start to a new a year that hopes to be better than the last.