Funk rock band Friendly Thieves to take the stage at Boulevardia this month

Photography by Travis Carroll.

Alternative funk rock band Friendly Thieves has cycled through handfuls of members since it first formed a few years back, but it looks as though the band has finally found its groove this past year.

“We’ve finally settled on our final form,” says guitarist Jamae Breeze, one of the band’s 2021 founding members.

“And now we can breathe,” says Sam Wells, the band’s vocalist who also plays electric ukulele. The band also includes saxophonist Ben Baker, bassist Sam Millard and drummer Matt Chipman, forming a tight, stellar quintet.

Last November, the band performed its first show in its “final form” at The Truman for a packed KC Tenants benefit show. Drummer Chipman had just joined and only had three days to learn the music before performing in the sold-out show. 

“That was a moment where it really locked in for us,” says Baker, who joined the group a year after its formation. “It was kind of like some sort of blood oath right of passage when we all played that show.”

Now, Friendly Thieves is set to be a main stage headliner for the first night of the ninth annual Boulevardia music festival on June 14. Returning for its second year, the funk rock band will showcase familiar tunes from their recently released debut album, Til Death, as well as some new music for a reliably energetic performance.

Over the next few months, the band is also slated to release a string of what they call “hot summer singles.” What do they all have in common? Being equal parts lively and existential, the band says.

“All of the songs ended up being pointed towards this juxtaposition we’re in as a society where no one gives a fuck and everyone cares a whole lot,” Wells says. “The songs balance between this split mentality of enjoying the time we have while we have it and raging as everything burns down around us.”

On June 7, a week before Boulevardia, Friendly Thieves will release the first of its forthcoming singles, “Get It Yourself.” The upbeat track features the commanding, gritty and growling vocals of Wells alongside Baker’s catchy saxophone riffs. The following night, they’ll officially celebrate the new release at Lemonade Park, an outdoor venue in the West Bottoms, alongside roots rock band Katy Guillen and the Drive.

“This year, we get to really enjoy the spoils of the credibility people have given us and really live our dreams,” Baker says. “It feels really great.”  

GO: Boulevardia, June 14–15, Grand Boulevard at Crown Center. Tickets available at Friendly Thieves will perform on day one of the two-day festival.

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