By Justin Ivey
If you’re looking for a band whose live show will have you grooving all night long, look no further than The Easy. The group, winners of DIG’s first annual INDIEcent Exposure: Battle of the Bands, hit the stage this past Saturday at the Spanish Moon and wowed the audience with their innovative spin on hip-hop.
The band has gone through some major changes over the past few years, but it seems they have found the perfect groove in their new four-man set. The Easy is now comprised of Nick Garrison on trombone, Eli Williams on drums, John Mann V on vibraphone and Chris Polk as the bassist and emcee.
“It’s been a long road,” says Nick Garrison. “We’ve sort of been through some transformations. We’re just a four-man group now, though we started as seven. I wouldn’t say we had a change of direction, but we just developed our sound more and tried to expand what we already did.”
The group’s most significant move was a shift to a more hip-hop centric sound. While there’s still a soulful and funky element to their music, it’s clear that hip-hop has become a focal point for The Easy.
“We’re a lot more hip-hop now than when we started out,” says Eli Williams. “When we started out, we had a singer then we slowly transformed. Chris can rap; he’s pretty damn sick actually. We just went with our strengths. We all listened to a lot of hip-hop growing up, so we know the sound and know what we want and what we’re feeling. It was an easy direction change.”
As The Easy takes this new approach with their music, they hope shows like this past weekend’s event at Spanish Moon can help strengthen their connection to Baton Rouge’s local hip-hop scene.
“This was a good show to interject more into the hip-hop community,” says Chris Polk. “With a more hip-hop influence, we definitely want to reach out to that scene. We want to use any kind of method. We just want to get our music out to the people.”
While Polk takes the lead with most of the rapping, it’s impressive to watch The Easy perform as multiple members will handle vocal duties over the course of their live show. And when Polk takes control, the group will also employ some creative vocal effects ranging from the screwed up stylings common in Houston rap to a talk box sound similar to the one funk legend Roger Troutman used.
Ultimately, it’s the instrumentation that really had the crowd at Spanish Moon in a great mood all night long. Garrison is a commanding presence onstage as a trombonist, bolstered by the strengths of Mann’s play on the vibraphone and Polk’s work on the bass. And when his turn for a drum solo came, Williams had the audience captivated as he took control of the set. Whether the sound was vibrant or mellowed out, the fans in attendance were hooked for every second The Easy performed.
If you’re feeling like you missed out on a great show, don’t worry. The Easy will be performing this Friday at Circa 1857 as part of the art gallery’s Hot Art, Cool Nights event and May 22nd at Chelsea’s Café. You won’t want to miss out on this talented group if you have the chance to see them live.