It’s soundcheck at Atlanta’s Aisle 5—7:12 p.m. foot begins tapping subconsciously to a thumping bassline.
Between audio checks the band members on stage chat, cut up and make fun of each other.
They go by LUTHI, a funky indie-jazz band out of Nashville.
I quickly learned that this was the LUTHI aura: laid-back, good vibes, good times and great music.
At one point, saxophonist and vocalist Amber Woodhouse tested her mic with a rendition of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” (which she absolutely killed!) and this devolved into the entire band moaning sexual noises and laughing it off.
“This band kind of formulated after we all got tired of playing in ‘serious’ bands,” said bassist Taylor Ivey.
Make no mistake, LUTHI is a serious band. They love bringing the party and enjoying themselves.
Front-man and namesake Christian Luthi said, “We take fun seriously, I guess that’s a good way to put it.”
At least twice throughout the show, Luthi waved at the crowd, urging the audience to approach the stage and not to be shy. The strategy worked: Halfway through their nostalgic second song “Analog,” the crowd came within a foot of the stage as it swayed to the trombone and laden synth melody.
Again, that’s the LUTHI vibe. Speaking with the band in the green room prior to the show felt like hanging out with a group of old friends. Throughout the interview, there was casual, constant banter.
LUTHI’s fun-loving attitude played a big role in how the band formed, and how the group distinguished their sound. A sound many call “Boogie Circus.”
“We started meeting these people who were really incredible musicians and also fun to hang out with… and I feel like everybody’s kind of stuck around,” Ivey said. Luthi agreed, “It was based as much on the humans that we were finding as the musical capabilities.”
Around the halfway point, LUTHI cranked up the energy with “Stranger,” the title track of their 2018 full length release. By this point, every person in the venue was jumping and grooving to the LUTHI vibe. Aisle 5 turned into a party.
In creating their sound, LUTHI had an equally easygoing approach. The group said honestly that they never really thought about it that much.
“We just kind of let everybody’s influences seep in without putting up any stipulations or barriers,” Ivey said. Nothing is too jazzy or too “anything,” they explained. When the group creates a tune that it likes, it just goes with the flow and allows the music take control.
If Atlanta is the film capital of the South, Nashville is certainly the music capital.
Though none of LUTHI’s members are actually from Nashville… or even Tennessee, they all ended up in the music-city.
Most of the group have been in the city for at least seven years, some of them longer.
“The city is what brought us together, so we’re very grateful for that, you know,” said Luthi. “It’s been an incredible place for us to plant our feet and develop certain skills. And the bar is so high with the level of musicianship. It’s been awesome to learn things and bounce things off of other professional musicians.”
Nashville’s location gave LUTHI a platform to enter virtually any market on the east coast. Dallas, Chicago, New York, Orlando—the band pointed out that all of these destinations are relatively close, and a weekend drive to any of these cities for a few gigs is manageable.
Nashville produced the most value for LUTHI in that musically, it is a notoriously competitive city.
“Being surrounded by people constantly raising the bar, it challenges you—not in a negative way, but you might go see somebody else, and think like, ‘I need to go home and practice,’” said Ivey.
The group has had a mixed bag of luck with Atlanta, but that doesn’t change their love for the city.
The last time they played here, they were scheduled at Aisle 5. A storm took out the power on the entire block in Little 5 Points. Eventually LUTHI was able to perform, and it even ended up being a fun show… but not after a lengthy wait.
On the flipside, its first ATL show was a 2017 New Years Eve bash with Widespread Panic, Bassnectar, and Moon Taxi at the Tabernacle. Its second was a daytime spot at 420 Fest.
“We’ve had good experiences with the people that we’ve found here. We’re building our relationships, if you will,” the group said. “But we love the city, we love Atlanta. Our first time here (NYE 2017) was like the coolest thing we’d ever done at the time.”
Whether they track music back in Nashville, or tour on the festival circuit, LUTHI has a great time. Collectively, it seems LUTHI feel better on the road because they genuinely enjoy the time on stage together.
“When we’re tracking it feels great too. But the writing is such a scattered process. It can be… It’s all really fun,” Luthi said. “Last time we were in Chattanooga, we just spent a day writing and working through a few things, and that was a lot of fun too.”
Ivey claims that LUTHI thrives at festivals.
“Our band, our style—out in the sunshine, ya know. It’s just a nice dance party. Anytime we get a chance to, we love playing festivals,” Ivey said.
They enjoy seeing other bands and hanging out with other musicians, and festivals are some of the only opportunities available for this camaraderie.
As for LUTHI’s future, they plan to do what they do best: stay on the road and bring jazzy dance parties to every stage possible.
LUTHI has concerts scheduled through the end of October and a single coming out in September.
However, as I pried to find out their full plans, Christian Luthi said, “There are definitely some more shows to announce and some more material, but we’re trying to keep some of it kinda… sneaky.”