Written by Joseph Sherman
Photography by Joseph Sherman
After recovering from my weeknight excursion to see Lettuce last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the final show of The Big Weekend at Concord Music Hall, where both The Russ Liquid Test and Sunsquabi performed to wrap up the cross-venue jam-funk festival. Because Whethan was slated to play an earlier show, the doors to Concord were not opened again until well after 11:00PM. By the time they opened, there was a line down the block of fans eager to get down through the late night.
The Russ Liquid Test came on first, and they wasted no time getting the crowd hyped with an eclectic range of bassy funk bangers. I was so excited to see the full band perform live, and was able to hear everything from their collab with Opiuo, “On Your Side” to more recent hits such as “1984,” and “World Gone Crazy.” Russell Scott made artful use of his talk box throughout the performance, and I loved the opportunity to interact a bit with the artists as they hammed it up for photos. Although they performed all their hits, the set was not without some surprises. At one point, Russell belted out, “We’re going to drop some DnB, hope you are all cool with that!” Given the reaction of the crowd, everyone was more than cool with hearing some up tempo bass, and the band smoothly transitioned from the second Drum n’ Bass track into “World Gone Crazy.” That transition was so unexpected, and was definitely the most memorable moment of the set. We were also lucky enough to hear an unreleased track from the band, so keep an eye out for new music from The Russ Liquid Test, as it is most certainly in the works, and hopefully coming soon!
Next up was Sunsquabi. The fellow members of GRiZ’s label, “All Good,” seldom make an appearance in Chicago, and I was absolutely thrilled to catch a set of theirs at an indoor venue. I’ve seen the band several times at festivals, but seeing a more intimate set at Concord really gave me the opportunity to get up close and personal with their performance. Throughout the set, the band played a variety of jammed out extended mixes of their hits such as “After the Rain,” and most notably, “Squabcat.” I’ve seen the band perform “Squabcat” a number of times, and each rendition seems to have its own unique flair to it. The palpable uniqueness of every jam and funk performance is so exciting, and really sets them apart from other electronic sub genres. With great DJ sets, you may be able to have a new experience seeing the same artists several times as they experiment with new mixes, but the recordings of their tracks are almost always the same. The extra zest of playing songs live truly contributes invaluably to the experience of the performance. I was really hoping to hear a similar style applied to GRiZ’s collabs with Sunsquabi, “I Don’t Mind” or “Get Down,” but I can appreciate the band’s probable desire to try and keep the focus on their own music. Perhaps we will get lucky this year at Electric Forest’s Observatory stage with an All Good jam session…
The closing show of The Big Weekend was nothing short of a success, and we’re hoping that the multi-day, multi-venue festival makes a comeback next year. Chicago needs more jam.
Check back with us early and often for news and developments on any and all electronic music events!
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