SunSquabi, Yak Attack play Crystal Bay

Tahoe Onstage

SunSquabi will perform in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room on Thursday, Feb. 7.

A Monarch butterfly of future funk, SunSquabi is winging its way to Crystal Bay.

Colorado-based hydro-funk trio SunSquabi released it latest full-length album “Instinct” on Jan. 11. Led by a three-track series of singles “Caterpiller,” “Chrysali,” and “Night Moth,” the LP finds the band at its highest peak, dedicated to the metamorphosis of capturing elements in live performances in the studio. Its improvisational jams have been fleshed out into full-blown songs and staples in its repertoire.

Instinct is a biological-themed journey of evolution. With the addition of Josh Fairman (bass/synth bass) last year and new levels of compositional prowess and sound design, it is evident that the group is dedicated to forward trajectory and experimentation. Each song’s namesake inspired by a creature or biological element is a reflection of every track taking on a distinct life of its own.

In addition to Fairman, Kevin Donohue (guitar/production) and Chris Anderson (drums), the album also features Nick Gerlach on saxophone (“Pangolin”), Spencer Anderson on violin (“Chrysalis”), Chris Karns (Pretty Lights) on Turntables, Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident) on percussion.

With support from Yak Attack, SunSquabi will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in the Crown Room at Crystal Bay Club Casino. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Guests must be 21 or older.

SunSquabi promises to play the new album “Instinct” live for Lake Tahoe fans.

The opener, Yak Attack, is fresh off a show this week supporting Sound Tribe Sector 9 before a packed audience at The Warfield in San Francisco.

Delivering organic livetronica, Yak Attack describes its sound like so: “Live-looping meets house meets breakbeat meets electro-funk meets drum & bass meets trip hop.” The group is based in Portland, Oregon and features Dave Dernovsek on keyboards, Rowan Cobb on bass and Nick Werth on drums.

Tahoe Onstage has some questions for SunSquabi as they headed to snowy Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Onstage: Congrats on the new album “Instinct.” Is that a metamorphosis of sorts for SunSquabi?

SunSquabi’s Kevin Donohue: Thank you. Instinct is most definitely our biggest studio album to date, and represents a musical transformation that we have undergone over the last two years.

How did you arrive at the theme for “Instinct?”

Instinct is the main force that drives evolution, in ourselves and in wildlife. Instinct is what tells us how to survive and grow even when we don’t know what to do. So we adapted that idea to different animals, and each song represents the spirit of each one. We picked common and uncommon animals to hopefully inspire people to think about the beauty and diversity of all the different kinds of life that exist in nature.

Many bands release a recording and then adapt it for tours. SunSquabi is known for its live improvisational jams and you captured that sound in a studio album and are now bringing the results back on the road. How is that working for you? What has been the fan response?

Using more live recording in the studio, and finding different methods of resampling ourselves playing live together in the studio has been a major factor in refining our sound. We feel it gives the music more of an organic feel, and the fans seem to be really responding to that so far. Then of course we play it all a little differently live each night.

You had some guest artists on the album. How many musicians are on tour right now?

We generally tour as the core trio of Chris, Josh and myself. When our friends are in the same place we always have guests on stage when we can. Occasionally for big shows at home or festivals we’ll bring guests that are on the album. For example Nick Gerlach joined us for several songs at the Fillmore in Denver last month, and Jason Hann will be joining us in Las Vegas at the end of tour.

SunSquabi is known for its performances on the summer festival scene, with huge gatherings at places such as Red Rocks. How is it to play in more intimate settings such as the Crown Room at Crystal Bay Club Casino?

We absolutely love playing at Crystal Bay. Every room has its own distinct energy, and we play every show with the same intensity as if we were live-streaming from the moon. So yea, we just love doing this so much!

We hear that you will play “Instinct” live at Crystal Bay. Any other surprises in store for the Tahoe show?

All kinds of treats, we’ve been doing a lot of improv/live composition onstage, and have some older and brand new songs as well. Again every show is a little different than the last so you can’t really know what to expect!

Yak Attack was just added as the opener for Crystal Bay. What has been your experience with that band?

We love Yak Attack. We were both playing Wave Spell (STS9’s new festival) in Belden, California, this last summer, and had Dave (keyboards) join us for a jam. One of the best parts of traveling is creating all these musical friendships around the world and playing more together

 — Randy Hashagen

  • SunSquabi
    Opener: Yak Attack
    When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Tickets: $12 in advance or $15 at the door

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About Randy Hashagen

Tahoe Onstage copy chief Randy Hashagen, a former Bay Area journalist, walked away from his career to become a crazy cab driver. He's still barnstorming, but his wing-walking days are over. Lately, he has been watching the world flow through Lake Tahoe since 2012.

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