Casual Evangelist

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Posts Tagged ‘RAQ’

RAQ at the State Theatre

Posted by Andrew on February 4, 2008

The first and only time I saw RAQ before Saturday’s show at The State Theatre in Falls Church, VA was when they opened for my band at the Grog and Tankard many years ago. That was one of those instances where you ask your bandmates: “Do we really have to follow these guys?”

Back then, they were a blisteringly-fast technical jamband with oft-noted similarities to Phish. A lot has changed.

RAQ’s recent performance bore little resemblance to the band that played at the Grog, or to Phish. The RAQ of today has slowed things down, added in heavier – dare I say metal elements. The guitar-keys interplay wizardry that dominated the RAQ of old has given way to a more unified musical machine where much of the drama now emanates from the rhythm section. The band has more in common with Umphrey’s McGee these days, and they’ve got the chops to pull it off.

The six string histrionics of Chris Michetti are still available in abundance, and keboardist Todd Stoops masterfully dabbles in the lower registers of his instrument. But it was the precise interplay of bassist Jay Burwick and drummer Greg Stukey that stood out. Burwick, with his pronounced bass accents, and Stukey, with his heavy right foot, produced something akin to a crowd carpet-bombing.

Interestingly, the band’s vocal interplays and harmonies were more effective than solo vocal performances. Overall, they successfully avoid the typical jamband trap (the vocals suck). The originals provided enough interesting turns, catchy refrains, and bass-bombing breakdowns to keep the crowd moving and on their feet. A few covers, including takes on Ween and the Allman Brothers (the latter featuring a very capable Cris Jacobs of The Bridge standing agog at Michette’s guitar solo) added enough familiarity for those unfamiliar with original RAQ material.

If the “Grog RAQ” > “State Theatre RAQ” progress continues at this pace, these guys have a very long and bright future ahead of them.
RAQ Frontline
Burwick and Michette doing the two step last October. Photo by Aaron Williams.


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