Big Something & Funk You Storm Through Birmingham's WorkPlay Theatre February 5, 2017 13:46
Photos and Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
On a cold Friday night in Birmingham, refuge was easily found in the Workplay Theatre as two of the southeast's most promising bands, BIG Something and Funk You, delivered a raging party. Funk You, originally from Augusta (GA), was up first and certainly made the most of its opening spot. We've had a chance to catch these guys on a number of occasions over the years, but this was a seriously powerful performance.
Frontman Gavin Hamilton brings such a cool, smooth vibe, while laying down some seriously powerful vocals. Guitarist Evan Miller is quickly establishing himself as one of the most talented young guitarists in the jam scene. Will Foster (keys) had many moments to shine as well, and the rhythm section of Will Clark (drums), Palmer Owens (percussion), and Rob Thompson (bass) were on point all night. The set was highlighted by Funk You originals such as "Important To You," "Ghost For Me," "Space Monkey," "Black Dynamite," "Resolution" and a perfect cover of Pink Floyd's "Young Lust." The future is very bright for Funk You, and you would be selling yourself short not to get out to see these guys in 2017.
Fresh off of a highly praised pair of performances on Jam Cruise, which included a sit-in from Widespread Panic's JoJo Hermann, BIG Something took the Birmingham stage. With this being the band's first headlining spot in the Magic City, it was clear that they came to make a statement. The set began with "Amanda Lynn," "Song For Us," and "Blue Dream," before busting into a powerful take on "UFOs Are Real." There's a common theme of "outer space" found with this band, both lyrically and within its overall sound. The heavy use of synthesizers from Josh Kagel (keyboards) and EWI (electronic wind instrument) from Casey Cranford certainly play to that notion.
The set got particularly hot when the opening notes of "Megalodon" hit. This was the song that turned me onto this band, and I still struggle to find a song that hits me harder than this one. There is an energy to it and some seriously intriguing lyrics that keep this song in constant rotation for me. The latest release, "Tumbleweed," came next and has a similar effect to that of "Megalodon." As the band prepares to release its new album this month, "Tumbleweed" is a great sign as to what fans can expect from the release. Another personal favorite came in the form of "Love Generator," which seemed to resonate amongst the rowdy crowd. It's amazing when a band manages to communicate its message both lyrically and musically, but I've always felt that this is accomplished with this particular tune. Finally hearing it live only confirmed that notion.
Next up was a nod to the late Prince, as the boys busted into a super funky take on the hit song "1999." You can't go wrong digging into the Prince catalog late into the night, and justice was undoubtedly served on Friday night. Before this smokin' set came to conclusion, the band worked its way into "The Curse of Julia Brown," giving frontman Nick MacDaniels one more chance to showcase some seriously power vocals. Guitarist Jesse Hensley and Cranford wasted no time trading licks across stage, and while it was chilly outside, the WorkPlay Theatre couldn't have been hotter. After a quick exit, they returned with for a encore featuring The Who's "Baba O'Riley," which sent the room into an all out frenzy.
While BIG Something might be new to the Birmingham market, Friday night was most likely just the beginning of many memorable nights with these guys. The seasoned veterans from Burlington (NC) have been turning heads and building a massive following across the country since 2009, and if you haven't yet jumped on the bandwagon now is the time. Keep an eye out for the announcement on BIG Something's annual festival "The Big What?" which is held each summer and always features a serious collection of the jam scenes most promising acts.
Watch a clip of BIG Something performing "Megalodon" here:
Watch a clip of BIG Something performing Baba O'Riley here:
Setlist: Funk You - WorkPlay Theatre - 02.03.17
1: What's On Your Mind, Important To You, Ghost For Me, Space Monkey, Black Dynamite, Young Lust, Central Ave, Resolution
Setlist: BIG Something - WorkPlay Theatre - 02.03.17
1: Amanda Lynn, Song For Us, Blue Dream, UFOs Are Real, Megalodon, Tumbleweed, 1999, Love Generator, The Curse of Julia Brown
Encore: Baba O'Riley
Evan Miller of Funk You
Gavin Hamilton of Funk You
Nick MacDaniels & Jesse Henley of BIG Something