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All Things PGroove: An Interview With Brock Butler & Matt McDonald January 12, 2017 12:45

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Interview and Photos by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Anytime you have the opportunity to ring in the new year with one of your favorite bands, you know that you're in for a special occasion.  After many successful New Year's runs with bands like Widespread Panic, Phish, and Umphrey's McGee, we decided that it was way past due for a New Year's celebration with Perpetual Groove, who was scheduled for a three-night run at Terminal West.  This band has held a special place in our heart for well over a decade, and they have been absolutely on fire since reuniting in the spring of 2015.  We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down with Brock Butler (guitar/vocals) and Matt McDonald (keyboards) for a quick interview just before the band took the stage on New Year's Eve.  Hope you all enjoy this one as much as we did.
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Lets start off by discussing this New Year's run in Atlanta.  One of the things that really intrigued me about these shows is that you guys have a different theme each night. The fan submitted setlist, the LiveLoveDie album, and then three sets for New Year's Eve tonight.  Tell me a little bit about how this all came together.
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Brock: When the submissions started coming in, there were a lot of really cool ideas.  Someone requested that we do All This Everything complete. That seems kind of like our humor, as well, to play All This Everything  and LiveLoveDie the following night.  The same kind joke that one year for Halloween, our theme was "Diamonds Are Forever."  Everyone assumed it was James Bond, so everyone came dressed in tuxedos, but we played all Neil Diamond songs.  So, we're up there in all sequined shirts, black pants...
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Oh wow.  What year was this?
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Brock:  This was 2009 or 2010.  I think it was 2010.  So, everybody else thought it was a James Bond theme. We did do a bit of "Diamonds Are Forever," as well as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," but the bulk of the new covers were Neil Diamond songs.  We like to pull fast ones, so it was really funny to see everyone out there with martini glasses and everything.  It wasn't mean spirited or anything...
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The ultimate curve ball for the fans...
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Brock:  Sure. So that's kind of how we went about choosing to play All This Everything for the fan submitted playlist.  
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What type of volume did you guys have in terms of the amount of feedback and submissions from the fans?
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Brock: I'm not exactly sure.  Matt handled most of that and relayed it over to us through email.  The response was strong, for sure.  There were definitely multiple, multiple submissions.
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Matt:  Our marketing director, Darrel Smith, handles all of our social media nowadays. He’s awesome. Darrel sent me all of the submissions and I then sent it out via email to the rest of the band members for us to discuss further. The very first submission was the album All This Everything complete. We loved the idea and knew it would be the ultimate curve ball. Two of our albums on the first two nights of the run seemed like a great idea and provides us with the opportunity to release these as *Live* albums like we did last year with Sweet Oblivious Antitode.
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So, this is the second New Year's run for you guys since the reunion. Two years in a row with a weekend run at Terminal West.  You've done this in years past at Variety Playhouse.  Do you feel that this tradition could continue in the future?
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Brock: Yeah, maybe.  I think the size of this room is very appropriate for us. The amount of bands that are in Atlanta tonight is pretty impressive.  You've got The Disco Biscuits and The Motet for starters.  It's not like The Deftones are playing down the street.  In terms of your audience, there are quite a few bands that are all drawing from the same pull.  It's likely that someone who likes The Motet might also like Perpetual Groove.  As far as Disco Biscuits fans, I've never been able to quite tell.  If someone likes P Groove and likes the Biscuits, they usually like us both.  
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There's an equal and opposite in people that are hardcore Biscuits fans.  If I've ever seen things that I felt were inappropriately hostile, for some reason, they don't just say, "P Groove isn't really my cup of tea."  The just hate us. Not exclusively just from the Biscuits, but I don't see it as much from Tribe fans for example.  My buddy Ethan Schwartz posted something that said, "Biscuits > P Groove > Biscuits.  What a great New Year's Run!"  Then in the comments, someone writes, "Drop that fuckin' P Groove out of there, and it looks like a pretty good deal!"  (laughs)  I just don't get that.
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Matt: I love Terminal West. Everything about it. The room, the stage, the people, the staff. It’s a real Atlanta gem. I’ll play here for as long as they’ll have us! Brock loves the Facebook! I try not to read too many comments on anything. Learned that lesson the hard way back in ’07. (laughs)
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I really don't get that either.  Like you said (Brock), all of these bands are pulling from a very similar audience.  I'm sure there has been at least one festival where The Disco Biscuits, P Groove, and The Motet have all performed.  I've never understood why so many people feel the need to "take sides" with bands amongst this music scene.
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Brock:  I call it the "gang mentality."  I don't understand it.  For me, I just love music.  I don't feel the need to categorize it.  I certainly have my preference on things, but why would anyone do themselves that disservice?  It's like going to a buffet, seeing all of these gorgeous choices of food, and saying, "No man.  It's steak and only steak!  I don't care how good that fucking shrimp cocktail looks.  Steak for life!"  You miss out on something that might have been very tasty.  
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It seems strange to me.  I understand if people have their one particular thing, and they're all about it.  Sometimes people do feel that need to take sides.  It's like with Panic and Phish.  Can't you enjoy both of them?  I've had wonderful experiences seeing both of those bands.  I like to have an open mind.  There's so much great music out there.  Why rule out the potential that you might really like something else?
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Matt: Music, like all art is subjective. I think most that are spending their energy hating on something like art are just reflecting the hate emanating from inside their cubicle. 
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I'm sure you are familiar with Phantasy Tour.  As much as I love the concept of that site, it has somewhat of a notorious reputation for people expressing a lot of animosity towards other bands.  It has always reminded me of people arguing on college football forums and getting caught up in the nonsense. It draws that same type of emotion of what people are most passionate about.  No matter who the band is, if you're not getting their best effort on New Year's, something is wrong.
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Brock:  I've read some of the harsh comments over the years, and I've developed thick enough skin that it really doesn't bother me.  I really just get puzzled by it all.  I can understand if we're not someone's particular "thing," but I don't understand it when it escalates to animosity and malicious gossip.  So, long and short, variety is the spice of life, and Atlanta has a lot of options.  To have a sold out show here tonight...it's like what I said during "Walking In Place" last night.  With all of the great options in this city, it really means a lot that we were the audience's choice. 
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Matt: Very true, you have to bring the heat on NYE. That’s what was so great about last year doing the destination shows. Every weekend we played got treated like a NYE run. Let’s face it, you should try to bring that energy to every single show no matter what the weekend is or city you may be in.

Watch Perpetual Groove's music video for "Paper Dolls" here:

That's got to be an amazing feeling.  We're coming up on close to two years since you guys reunited for that unbelievable show at the Georgia Theatre.  I've been to a lot of shows, and that one is up there with the best of them.  The energy in that room was on another level.  There were moments when the audience was singing louder than the band.  
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Brock: Oh yeah.  I could feel it.  You don't really have that opportunity often.  Coming off of a two-year hiatus...that's kind of a once in a lifetime thing.  You can't expect to have that kind of intensity at every show.
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Matt: When Newt and I were mixing those first two nights back he bounced a version for me that is just the mics in the room. All you hear is the audience singing along. It’s awesome.
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You've now had a chance to return to so many major stages across the country.  I know it's got to be an amazing feeling to pack out these venues and kind of pick up where you left off.  Can you tell me a little bit about this experience since the reunion?
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Matt:  A couple of times we've said that there was a feeling of finishing what we've started, but I think that even that has changed.  Everything kind of happens for a reason, and we needed the break, not only as a band, but individually.  So, I think it made each of us in our own personal lives...I feel pretty safe in saying that it made each of us more humble.  As the collective, even more so that feeling of humility and thankfulness to have not only the opportunity to do it again, but I'm certain that none of us even had it on the radar for the majority of those two years.  It wasn't really until Brock and I spoke in December of 2014 that it was kind of on the radar.  I think it might have even been January before the actual question of "Do you think we should do some more shows?" came up.  So, I guess humility and humbling is a good way to put it, as well as appreciation...
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Brock:  Oh yeah...humility and gratitude.  Which is always just two great things for any situation if you're trying to turn your life around.  Personally, for me, these are things that if you're trying to tighten up and find amends and redemption and things like that, a lot of it starts with being humbled.  From that humility comes gratitude and appreciation.  Ultimately, at least from my part, that translated into joy.  To be clear eyed enough and know just how fortunate we've all been.  Having it absent from my life and now having it back in my life and realizing that my life is just so much better with it.  
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As a long time fan of this band...I know I've told you guys this before, but your music brings out emotions that are just hard to describe. The music scene and the world in general is a better place with Perpetual Groove in it.  It's no secret that there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
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Brock:  See, you can say that, but if that was my answer...coming back to humility... (laughs)
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Matt:  We've always been the band in this scene, whether it be Brock or Adam's lyrics, and just the music period has been just a heart on your sleeve kind of thing. There are a lot of jam bands that have really cool, quirky, maybe type two kind of thinking with lyrics, but there's something to be said about the honesty of Brock's lyrics that everyone can relate to.  It might be, whatever it was to Brock when he wrote it, it will translate to anyone, and they can relate to it on their own level.  I think that is part of what has set us apart specifically in this "jam scene."  Not a lot of people write lyrics that actually maybe mean something to the heart as opposed to trying to make you think.
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Watch Perpetual Groove perform "Lost Connection" during an acoustic set on the Georgia Theatre rooftop here:
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I definitely agree with that.  So, since you guys have been back, you have released the "Paper Dolls" single, as well as the four-song EP Familiar Stare.  Since that point, how much new material has been in the works?  Looking ahead to 2017, are there plans to get back into the studio?
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Brock:  No firm plans, but I don't think there is any question that we will.  I've kind of equated it to Weird Al Yankovich.  With his last full release, he finally got a #1 album.  He said that because of the pace of how everyone gets their information now, if something happens in the news that he might make a parody of, by the time it takes him to record a full album, a million people have already done gag versions of something.  For him to keep up and be able to stay on top of whatever music he might be addressing (usually it involves current events and pop culture), he is moving towards releasing as much material as possible, but more frequently and in shorter spurts.  This is just off the top of my head.  We haven't really discussed it at length.  I imagine we will do a full album at some point.  
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Matt:  I think that as we have performed last year, and what we have done this year with performing full albums from our past live, I think that there is a longevity to a full album that there is not with the singles or the EPs.  Last year, the discussion was very much the new environment.  Release, release, release...shorter...this, that, and the other.  Now, I kind of feel like I'd rather have something where people are thinking about the entire album a few years from now, as opposed to the EP for a month.  Like we've always done, maybe to a fault, we're gonna do it our way, and whatever we decide is going to be the best way for us.  Which, quite often, has turned out not to be the model that many people use.
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Well, 2016 was a very busy year for you guys.  This was definitely the most extensive touring that P Groove has done in years.  What are you guys thinking in terms of how the schedule is going to shape out, the festival plays, all of that?  What are your goals, and how to do you guys plan to balance everything out?
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Matt:  I think what you see on the tour schedule right now is going to be a pattern.  I think that the weekend warrior thing works out a little better for us.  Going out for a couple of weeks at a time, there are things to be gained from that, but, you know, maybe we're just getting old.  Like I said just a minute ago, we do things our own way.  We kind of got some pressure about this time last year to do "tour tours."  That was fun, but I don't think it was everything that it could be when we space ourselves out more.  I think we like the destination weekend type stuff.
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Brock:  Look at David Gilmour.  He announces a North American tour, and it's five dates.  Two nights in New York, two nights in L.A., and maybe one other one.  Everyone's fine with him calling it a "Dave Gilmour Tour" though.  I think there is going to be somewhere right in between something that doesn't keep us out into a two week grind of the road, but I'm hoping that we can find something that's just in the middle.  If we do two nights in New York City, and then maybe have one or two more dates.  Maybe just three to four dates at a time, so that we have a couple of weeks to come home.  Matt and Adam have children now.  My girlfriend and I have a new puppy, and I miss him like crazy.
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What kind of puppy did you guys get?
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Brock:  He's half chihuahua and half yorkie.  He's a chorkie.  He weighs less than two pounds.  We got him just a couple of weeks ago.  I miss him, and I miss Summer when we're on the road.  There are a lot of people that we miss being with.  I believe that we can find the most perfect balance of things. I'm confident of that.
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Matt:  Yeah...I think that's what we should do.  Like what you were just saying with these 2017 dates.  The weekend warrior thing seems a little more realistic for what we do.  The longevity at this point is important, and we want to keep doing it.  However, we don't want to burn ourselves out.  We had about 10 years of burning ourselves out.  There were some old vibes that came back on the last tour that made us think, "Ehh...I love you guys, but I don't want to be gone from my family, or around you" (laughs).  I think it keeps us fresher, and we approach the music with more energy.
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Well, I think at this point, there is only one thing left to do, and that's to go out, rock that Terminal West stage one last time in 2016, and end this crazy year in style.  Thanks so much for taking the time to sit and chat for a few minutes.
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Perpetual Groove Performs 'LiveLoveDie' Album In Its Entirety December 31, 2016 14:30

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Words and Photos by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Perpetual Groove continued its three-night New Year's stand at Terminal West on Friday night, and the anticipation amongst the band's faithful was apparent from the moment you walked in the door.  On this night, the band was scheduled to perform the LiveLoveDie album in it's entirety.  This seems to be a bit of a growing New Year's tradition for the band, as they performed the Sweet Oblivious Antidote album during last year's run.  The lights went down just before 11:00 PM, and we were ready for another rockin' night of PGroove originals.
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As expected, the set began with the heavy hitting "Save For One," which was followed by "Two Shores," a song that strikes a nerve in me that very few are capable of.  The pace slowed a bit with the peaceful "To Shed Light Or Cast Shadows," before special guest Damien Perry would make his first of many appearances for a scorching take on "Mayday."  Perhaps the most well known track on the album, "It Starts Where It Ends," was up next, and what a powerful performance it was.  I don't think there was a person in the room who's arms weren't in the air, shouting every word to the classic ballad.  "Crapshoot" sent the set back into heavy form, before Brock Butler (guitar/vocals) led us through the always catchy "Dust." 
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The sing-along vibes would continue with "So Much As Goodbye," which might have contained the most extensive improv jamming of the evening.  The more rare "Legends of Preston" was next on the list, featuring some heavy synth from Matt McDonald (keys) and truly raw emotion from Butler.  Damien Perry returned to the stage to lend a hand on a red hot take on "Speed Queen," and I can't imagine there has been a much more powerful performance of this song in the past.  Watching Butler and the Perry brothers trade licks and continuously build up such a powerful tune was easily one of the highlights of the night. 
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Just when we thought we were finished with "Speed Queen," Butler ripped into the opening notes of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," which would be the first time the band has ever played the classic rock hit.  This ultimately led back into "Speed Queen," before another ultimate sing-a-long, "Only Always," would bring this wild set to a close.  Friday night's encore was one which I'll never forget, as the band kicked into "Breeze" before making it's way it's way through a killer version of The Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" with special guest John Hruby on keys.  The decision to follow with the classic "Walking In Place" couldn't have more perfect, and Butler even managed to take a moment to recognize our fallen brother Andrew McConnell (Live Music Daily) mid-way through the song. 
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Fortunately, we have one more night and three more sets of Perpetual Groove ahead of us this evening.  With an acoustic set to start the night, and two full electric sets to follow, there's no telling what these guys have in store for us.  Many of the most well-known, classic PGroove tunes are still on the table, and one would have to imagine that there are some killer cover tunes coming as well.  One thing is for certain, Perpetual Groove is playing the best music of its long standing career, and those heading to Terminal West tonight are in for an absolute treat.
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Perpetual Groove - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA - 12.30.16
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Setlist: Save For One, Two Shores, To Shed Light or Cast Shadows, Mayday*, It Starts Where it Ends, Crapshoot, Dust, So Much As Goodbye, Legends of Preston, Speed Queen* > War Pigs*# > Speed Queen > Only Always 
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Encore: Breeze%>, Pepper%*> Breeze%, Walkin in Place
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Notes: LiveLoveDie album was played in its entirety, * w/ Damien Perry (guitar), % w/ John Hruby on keys, # First time Play
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Perpetual Groove Kicks Off Terminal West Run In Fine Form December 30, 2016 17:00

Words and Photos by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Georgia-born jam rockers Perpetual Groove returned to Atlanta's Terminal West on Thursday night for the first of a big three-night New Year's run.  Several weeks ago, the band revealed that they would be accepting setlist submissions from it's rabid fan base for night one, but there was one rule involved.  The submissions could not include any songs from the LiveLoveDie album, as they will be playing it in it's entirety on Friday night.

The show kicked off with a "Life," which ultimately segued into "All This Everything Pt.1."  As the set continued with "All This Everything Pt. 2," it became apparent that the band was working it's way through the entire All This Everything album.  "53 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity" was up next, a mellow instrumental tune that always takes you on a journey.  One of my personal favorites, "Andromeda," would follow, and if that song doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will.  Some of the most uplifting lyrics I've ever heard, accompanied by some powerful, uplifting jamming.  

The set continued with "Long Past Settled In," before Adam Perry (bass) led us straight into "Crocket and Tubbs." Next up was "The Universe," which slowed the pace a bit before Albert Suttle (drums) kicked in super nostalgic into to "Stealy Man."  This tune features some of Brock Butler's (guitar/vocals) finest, most melodic playing (in my personal opinion), accompanied by some heavy notes from Matt McDonald (keys).  The band then worked its way through "Left To Drifting," "Scooter," and "Gone Round The Twist."  The raging "Occam's Blazer" came next and sent the entire room into a frenzy.  Butler was taking his solos to another level, and the spacey effects from McDonald's synth had everyone moving.  This red hot set would ultimately end with the final tow tracks from All This Everything, "For Now Forget" and "...and Everything.  

After a brief exit, the band returned to the stage for a scorching two song encore which featured "Space Paranoids," the opening track from the Honey Cuts album (2010).  The boys would then call on guitarist Damien Perry for a raging cover of Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" to close out the show.  If you're in the Atlanta area, or within driving distance, you might want to go ahead and secure your tickets for tonight's show, as well as the New Year's Eve show which will feature three sets of P-Groove.  Something truly special is in the works this weekend at Terminal West, and I can't wait to see how it plays out.

Perpetual Groove - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA - 12.29.16

Setlist: Life > All This Everything Pt. 1, All This Everything Pt. 2, 53 More Things to Do In Zero Gravity, Andromeda, Long Past Settled In, Crockett & Tubbs, The Universe, Stealy Man, Left to Drifting, Scooter, Gone Round The Twist, Occams Blazer, For Now Forget, …and Everything

Encore: Space Paranoids, When the Levee Breaks*

Notes: *with Damien Perry


The Disco Biscuits Kick Off SweetWater 420 Fest With Terminal West Pre-Party April 22, 2016 14:39

Photos and Words by Taylor Pack: Live & Listen

Every year, Atlanta’s favorite brewery Sweetwater Brewing Company celebrates their flagship beer 420 Pale Ale and America’s fastest growing holiday by throwing a blowout festival; full of great bands and an abundance of tasty beer. This year, SweetWater knocked it out of the park yet again when they released a lineup featuring the jam bands scene's biggest party animals, The Disco Biscuits. Shortly after, Atlantans were delighted to hear that the Biscuits planned to throw a festival pre-party on Thursday and an after party on Friday at Terminal West.

As expected, The Biscuits tore the roof off of Terminal West to open up what will be full weekend of premier live music in Atlanta. With the rain pouring down outside and an abundance of purple lasers flying inside, the band and their crew did an excellent job paying respects to the late great Prince. The first set featured a vintage "Munchkin Invasion", but the real jewel of the night was the second set, as the band weaved in and out of “I-Man” and “Voices Insane” in a way that only The Disco Biscuits can.

The Disco Biscuits are set to perform on the main stage at SweetWater 420 Fest in Centennial Olympic Park this evening, with a late night show at Terminal West to follow.  



Setlist:

I: Let's Go Crazy (RIP Prince) > Munchkin Invasion, King of the World > Basis For a Day (ending only), Kitchen Mitts

II: Voices Insane (fakeout) > I-Man > Voices Insane > Tricycle > Voices Insane (fakeout) > I-Man

E: Story of the World


New Interview: Todd Stoops (RAQ and Kung Fu) April 17, 2015 09:13

Just last night, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of our favorite musicians, Todd Stoops (RAQ and Kung Fu).  Kung Fu was preparing for the final show of their "Dirty Dozen" tour with fellow Northeast jam rockers, Twiddle.  We've been lucky enough to follow Todd's career since the early days of RAQ, and simply cannot get enough Kung Fu.  This explosive, lethal funk super group has only scratched the surface, and our conversation with Todd only validated why we love this band so much.

Click here for the FULL INTERVIEW w/ Todd Stoops