Sunsquabi 12.6.16

Doug Fir Lounge
Portland, OR

Words By Mitch Melheim
Photos By Coleman Schwartz Photography

Boulder, Colorado’s SunSquabi brought their self-dubbed “Electronic Hydro Funk” to Portland, Oregon’s Doug Fir Lounge for their headlining debut in the Rose City. Fresh off of the recently announced departure of band co-founder and bassist, Andrew Clymer, I was anxious to see what the band’s immediate future held.

Fortunately, they quickly acquired a new bassist in Analog Son’s, Josh Fairman, hair included. Little was lost with the new bassist, or at least not as much as I expected. Clymer was undeniably talented, but you can tell that Fariman is more used to playing with humans than computers which actually seems to be a positive thing, lending a looser and more live sound to the new configuration of the band.

They opened with “SquabCat” which was a familiar song for most in attendance. The opening synth got everybody moving until guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Donohue broke into his first funky guitar riff of the night, giving everybody a groove to settle into. Like the opening song, the set was heavy on material from their EP Odyssey that was released earlier this year in April. Other standout tracks from the album played during the show were the title track “Odyssey,” which features Griz, and “After The Rain” an even funkier than usual song from them that oddly enough came on the verge of snow in Portland, not rain.

Donohue seems to be the leader of the band when they’re on stage and is talented at what he does, usually providing nothing too flashy aside from the occasional solo behind his head. He does a great job of working between playing keys, guitar, and DJing all in a matter of seconds in
some cases.

Drummer, Chris Anderson, provides a crucial live element with his drumming that is necessary to separate SunSquabi from some of their future funk counterparts. That being said, I think they could benefit from adding an electronic drum pad into his kit to compliment the electronic
element provided by Donohue’s production. New song “Pygmy Up,” just released last week and featuring the wubbed out trumpeteer, Russ Liquid, was a definite highlight of the show. It’s a reassuring sign that most of this band’s recent music sounds better to me than their older work does, a statement that I often times cannot make about the bands that I listen to.

SunSquabi has done a commendable job at creating both a unique and trademark sound in a genre that’s recent surplus in popularity has spawned more than a few copycat acts. They managed to explore multiple genres throughout the show from Funk and Drum & Bass to an unexpected appearance of instrumental Doom Metal at one point, all while maintaining that recognizable SunSquabi sound. With the recent news of the bands lineup change, people may have been unsure of the future, but one thing that’s for sure is that these guys aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

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