Como band creates “funky” concert venue at home

With most venues shut down, Funk N Spuds made a venue of their own for their final concert before winter.

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Shannon Doyle

Funk N Spuds rehearses in member Max Meier’s Como home on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Emalyn Muzzy, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

In the heart of Como, the chaotic and wholesome band Funk N Spuds convenes for their weekly band rehearsal.

They play through songs that University of Minnesota alum Max Meier wrote, make jokes and prepare a set list for their upcoming balcony concert.

Like for other bands, there are few opportunities for Funk N Spuds to rock out during the pandemic. But rather than forgo performing, the group has adapted, creating their own DIY venue at Meier’s house.

With colder weather rapidly approaching, the funk-rock-psychedelic jam band is hosting their final balcony concert of the year on Oct. 16. They’ll also stream the concert live on their YouTube channel.

Consisting of four University of Minnesota alumni and one current grad student, the band formed at the beginning of 2020 at Meier’s New Year’s Eve party.

“We knew we were about to have a lot of people over. And we also knew that we wanted something musical to happen,” Meier said.

Meier called up three friends and his brother to put together a band for that night. They’d already talked about forming a group, and the party was the perfect place to start.

According to bassist Justin Halverson, the performance that night was magical. Their energy and music style worked together harmoniously.

“[It was] a really energetic celebratory experience to start this strange year,” he said.

Since then, they’ve come together as a dedicated band and a tight-knit group of friends.

In January, they officially became Funk N Spuds and began booking more shows in the Minneapolis area. They were able to play at a few bars, but the pandemic quickly shut down any opportunities they might have had.

In April, they started hosting concerts from the balcony of Meier’s house because, in Halverson’s words, “Why not?”

Funk N Spuds on the roof
Funk N Spuds poses on member Max Meier’s house in the Como neighborhood on Thursday, Oct. 8. (Shannon Doyle)

Meier had suggested the idea before the pandemic began, but once the state went into lockdown, it made total sense to start performing from up there.

In order to prepare for the balcony concerts, Meier created posters and advertised the concert on social media.

Meier said they try to monitor the reception their band is getting on social media because while they encourage people to come out and listen, they worry of overcrowding the street.

They rescheduled one show because the COVID-19 infection rate was high at the time, saxophonist Zach Miller said. One of their biggest fears is that the virus will spread among concertgoers on the street.

For that reason, they require all spectators to wear masks and ask that people stand at least six feet apart.

They’ve also stopped advertising their address and ask people to message them on Instagram to find out where the concert is held.

While they’re grateful to still have opportunities to play, the band members unanimously agree that they miss the human connection of normal concert venues.

Thomas Hazlett
Funk N Spuds guitarist Thomas Hazlett rehearses with the band at member Max Meier’s Como home on Thursday, Oct. 8. (Shannon Doyle)

Guitarist Thomas Hazlett said that during concert livestreams, the music feels like a one-sided conversation. Instead of the audience and musicians energizing each other, the musicians are the only ones speaking.

“These balcony shows have really been the first opportunity for this group of people to make music a shared experience with the people that choose to listen to it,” he said.

Meier recalls their first concert where he stopped in the middle of a song to wave out at the audience, and, to his surprise, people waved back. It gave him a sense of community and hope that’s driven him forward.

“If anything is true in my life, it’s that music is hope. If I can listen to music or play music or be around music, I can be hopeful.”

What: Funk N Spuds’ last balcony show of the season
When: Friday, Oct. 16
Where: Check Funk N Spuds Instagram for location
Cost: Free (mask required)
Ages: All ages