Those who ventured out despite the weather were certainly granted a memorable experience, especially for anyone willing to make the trek over to Market Square.

Local band Backup Planet performed at the Preservation Pub on Thursday. Though a relatively new band, all members have ties to UT and live in the Knoxville area. Ben Cooper (vocals, piano, synthesizer, organ)is a senior in marketing, Gavin Donati (guitar, vocals) and Jack Willard (bass) both studied music at UT, and Chris Potocik (drums, percussion) studied psychology.

Their sound is difficult to categorize, but it could be described as "progressive funk rock," according to Cooper.

"Our influences and sound can encompass everything from Thievery Corporation and Daft Punk to John Coltrane and Phish. With our interests being so diverse, we incorporate elements of jazz, funk, progressive rock, roots and electronic music into our own," Cooper said.

Those familiar with bands like the Allman Brothers, Lettuce, Umphrey's McGee and Phish are aware of the awe-inspiring modes through which these types of musical groups are able to channel multi-genre sounds and rhythms into a coherent end-result. That mixture is almost always something new and innovative.The unique aspect of performing in this manner, and incorporating improvisation into the picture, is that it requires a strong element of trust and respect among band members.Donati explained the band's chemistry as a collaborative force.

"When I'm taking a lead, I think of it more as the band traveling in a vertical, linear direction as one unit," Donati said. "Not necessarily a 'solo' that departs from other members. I really don't listen to myself playing, and keep my volume turned down so I can hear the keys, high hats, kick drums and bass to stay in the groove of the song. The song really provides the basic structure of where things will go, with bass and drums giving it the syncopated backbone, and synth, keys and guitar building harmony and melody off that. And from there, things can really take off."

A packed house of snow-coated Knoxvillians were ecstatic throughout the band's performance. Songs ranged from original tunes written by band members to renditions such as The Allman Brothers' instrumental classic "Jessica," Bill Withers' "Use Me" and Phish's "Tweezer Reprise."

"For me, playing music is the purest form of emotion," Cooper said. "To be able to extend yourself through an instrument and share that with others is a special thing."

The diverse influences of the band — Ben's passion for progressive, funk and electronic; Gavin's affinity for jazz-fusion and southern rock; Jack's experience with jazz; and Chris's interest in country and roots music — seemed to be a favorite aspect among concert-goers.

Tucker Lebsack, senior in advertising and self-proclaimed music enthusiast, echoed this sentiment.

"Their originals are really unique and the covers are all well done. ... One of the best local bands in Knoxville and they have only played a handful of shows," Lebsack said.

For details regarding future live performances and other band info, check out Backup Planet online at