If you’re looking for a great live performance, look no further than RAQ. RAQ is a four piece music group hailing from Burlington, VT. made up of Todd Stoops, keyboard and vocals (and probably the most prolific composer in the group), Chris Michetti on guitars and vocals, Jay Burnwick on bass and vocals, and Greg Stukey on drums. I had the pleasure of attending my first RAQ show on Thursday, Oct. 27 at Toad’s Place in New Haven. The self-described aggressive improvisational rock band possesses a clean sound in the mold of Phish, though recently they have moved away from that once-true stigma. They have a propensity for long cheery jams which are malleable enough to go in an infinite number of directions in a live setting. This is what keeps the quartet’s growing crowds coming back for more, and is the reason the sound so easily garners attention from new audiences. Surrounded by a myriad of keyboards, the seemingly magical hands of Todd Stoops never shared the same set. Michetti, Stoops and Burwick displayed strong vocal abilities that bands with their caliber of musicianship frequently lack or overlook, harmonizing with what sounded like sincere enthusiasm. The overall cheerful, warm sound is supplemented by their innocent, playful lyrics; a befitting construction. At the start of the show, Stoops reminisced about his first concert which just so happened to be at Toad’s, and deemed it appropriate that they opened up with the song “Comin’ Home.” They wasted no energy and kept the crowd moving as they jammed into energetic favorites “Shirley Be a Drooler” and “Beauregard,” two tracks off their most recent 2003 release, “Carbohydrates.” Highlights from the rest of the show included “Said and Done,” ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses,” new tracks “Tumblin’ Down” and “Botz,” and old school fan favorite “Wax.” RAQ has been chosen as a ‘New Groove of the Month’ by Jambands.com, and nominated for a ‘Jammy’ Award in the category of ‘Best New Band’. Relix Magazine recently featured the band in its Spotlight section, raving “RAQ has the ability to captivate an audience, dropping jaws with hyperkinetic improvisational splendor.” The band was also highlighted by Relix as one of the top bands to look out for this past summer. For more information visit http://www.RaqMusic.com.

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