Machine Funk + Runaway Gin at The Pour House - 01.16.15


When it comes to quality, live music in Charleston, SC, look no further than The Charleston Pour House. The popular music venue and tavern features a large stage and music room, a full bar stocked with a great variety of craft beers, and a huge back deck with its own bar, stage, and comfortable seating. The Pour House hosts more bands and music events per week than any other live music venue in town, booking a variety of jam-rock, Americana, electronic, funk, reggae, punk, and acoustic shows. They host local benefits and specials events featuring local food, arts, and crafts as well. Happy hour is 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday (specials include $3 Domesitc 16 oz cans, $2.50 domestic bottles, $4 SweetWater and Fat Tire Drafts, and $5 Fireball).  On any given week, a steady variety of genres can be found, with several nationally touring acts available.

The heart of the jam rock scene is found within the musicians, their extensive supporting casts, and the fans that keep coming back night after night. So much opportunity for young bands lies within the accessibility to perform in front of crowds consistently. The Pour House continues to provide as much quality live music as you will find in the Southeast for music lovers of all shapes and size. Earlier this month, a special tribute to Widespread Panic and Phish was held, featuring two of the nations top tribute acts: Machine Funk and Runaway Gin. Four total sets of music were performed, with the two bands rotating on and off stage, and ultimately joining forces for a “family jam” encore.    


Machine Funk "Tribute to Widespread Panic" was formed in the summer of 2006 in Florence, SC. The band tours the Southeast, night after night their set lists are never the same. With having over 120 songs in their repertoire you will not see the same show twice. They also include songs from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Talking Heads and many others. Machine Funk has shared the stage with musicians from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, North Mississippi Allstars, Keller Williams and Jojo Herman of Widespread Panic. Each show is a musical journey that can't be explained, only experienced.

Runaway Gin is the World's most active Phish tribute band, playing over 60 shows in 2014 alone. Thanks to their weekly Sunday night shows on the Pour House deck, the band has had an opportunity to frequently perform to countless hungry audiences, ultimately sparking the demand for tour dates across the Southeast. Guitarist/vocalist Andy Greenberg was kind enough to provide us with some further insight on the band:


The concept of a Phish tribute band is more complicated than most might think.  You're catering to a music community with very high expectations.  What all has led to the ultimate formation of Runaway Gin?

Ultimately, it is a lot of fun for me to play and even learn Phish songs - even before I played in a Phish cover band, I would work on picking out Trey's guitar parts simply because I loved the way it sounded and wanted to know what he was playing. It is true that some of our audience has very high expectations. Phish really set the bar high on every instrument, but that’s also part of why we are so drawn to this music. We have had many conversations as a band about this, and the conclusion that we keep coming to is if we are having fun and trying our hardest, the audience will more likely enjoy it than end up stiff with nerves firing and laboriously tweaking.


We came together as a band to capture some of that magic that we love about Phish and share it with each other and with our audience. It is an honor to be able to play these songs to people who have never heard Phish, as well as people who have seen them and do have those high expectations. I guess in a way playing this music helps me get through the times in between Phish shows because I really miss the way this music makes me feel when I am not hearing it live or playing it live. From there, I hope it can help others to keep or recapture that feeling of freedom and natural beauty that this music and style of playing conveys. That is what this is all about - spreading this magic - turning people onto it and fueling the flames of those who have already experienced Phish.

As your tour dates and exposure increase, there has to be a higher demand for you guys in many new cities.  When did things really take off outside of Charleston, and how do you determine the amount of touring for 2015? 
Andy: Actually, as soon as we started playing at the Pour House, I started getting emails from venues wanting to set up shows. There are definitely people with their "fingers on the pulse" of the Pour House, so to speak. Alex does a really, really good job of finding hidden talent and hence the outside talent buyer eyes on their schedule. Things really took off immediately surprisingly and have continued to progress quickly, partially due to the fact that we play so much. The amount of gigs we play is mostly based on everyone's schedules. We all play in other groups as well so we try to be respectful of that with our booking. I simply look for the openings in everyone's schedules and try to fill them. We tend to fill up about 4 months or so in advance. 
The Phish song catalog is as extensive as anyone's.  How often do you add in new Phish material to the rotation?  Which song requests do you get asked about the most?

Andy: We are constantly working on new material. There is a limit to how fast we can learn while still brushing up and improving what we already know so that's the determining factor. There are only so many hours in a day! But yeah, right now we have two new tunes that we are going to dive into tomorrow and they are both pretty big ones. We just played our 70th show last night so it's time for another boost. We get lots of requests for funk songs - "Wolfman's", "Sand", "Ghost", "Moma Dance", "Sneaking Sally" - also for some of the more intricate songs - "Bowie", "YEM", "Fluffhead". Still waiting for the "Leprechaun" and "Punch Me in the Eye" requests!


How big of an impact has the Charleston Pour House had on your ability to perform so frequently?  What has that meant to Runaway Gin as a band?

Andy: It cannot be understated how fortunate we are to have the Charleston Pour House. Without such a vibrant local audience, cool and vibey venue, and our weekly Sunday shows, we would have a much looser foundation. It's amazing how "cold" I feel musically if we don't play for week - in contrast you can see that by gigging every week we are always hot and ready to roll. When we get to the end of a three-night run we are usually at our best regardless of how tired we may be. Our Sunday shows at the Pour House feel like family dinners to me - it's where we can really cut loose and try out new material, get zany and stupid, and really be ourselves outside of the pressures of less familiar settings. Our relationship with the Pour House is instrumental to our success.
Complete Setlist – Friday, January 16th, 2015:
1st and 3rd sets from Machine Funk - 2nd and 4th sets from Runaway Gin 
I: Give, Holden Oversoul > Rock, Ophelia > Shape I'm In, No Sugar Tonight, Little Kin, Fishwater

II: Birds of a Feather, Sample in a Jar > the Wedge, Wolfman's Brother > Possum*, Free, 46 Days

III: Thought Sausage, Arleen > Chilly Water > Red Hot Mama > Chilly Water, Ace of Spades, Ride Me High > Drums > Climb to Safety, Conrad

IV: Cities > Light > Ghost > Twist, The Divided Sky, Cavern

E: Fire on the Mountain#, Rockin' in the Free World#**

*Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) teases
** Neil Young (First Time Played)
# members of both Machine Funk and Runaway Gin