Nik Greeley, of Swift Technique and Nik Greeley and the Operators, has a command of the stage that has led him to be regarded as one of Philadelphia’s powerhouses in the funk scene. His supporting role in Swift Technique gave him a name, and now his lead role in the Operators, a project Greeley started in 2015, is gaining him local fame.
The Operators is a veritable supergroup* made up of members of Swift Technique, Out of the Beardspace, Miss Cantaloupe, and, formerly, the Underwater Sounds. All fine musicians apart, they have come together with Greeley at the helm to provide a funk experience that is both engaging and enthralling.
Greeley has earned his front man title—a craft he’s spent his entire musical career to forge—through years of practiced showmanship and thoughtful crowd perspective.
“When I was younger and we started playing music, I just wanted to be the guitar player in the band. All my other friends didn’t want to sing, and I was really the only one who was outgoing enough. I was really into theater in high school, so it just kind of made sense for me to be out front even though I was discovering my voice…I still am in many ways,” Greeley said.
While funk music is their bread and butter, being made up of artists across several bands and styles makes The Operators’ structure genre-defying. Nik’s bandleader approach is perfect for this dynamic as he encourages and organizes a sense of leadership from each of the Operator’s members.
“I like to think that I’m a loose band leader. It really works that we’re all good friends, that’s really what gels it all together. I’m very lucky: One that they’re all really great musicians, and two that they want to play and make what we feel is good music with me
“Song writing is a big thing to me, and we all write well together. Facilitating ideas is key. I always look at music like a puzzle in many ways. You take little things, and you put them together…and everyone has a part in it, and I think that’s what’s great about the Operators,” Greeley said.
Funk music has always been a mainstay in the area festival scene, so it was with inevitable ease that the Operators tapped into this mine. And it’s much to our listening pleasure that they have. On Beardefest’s opening night they helped turn the lingering potential energy into full-blown kinetic, welcoming everyone to get down as the sun came down with them.
“It’s pretty amazing to be amongst a lot of musicians that I admire. Playing festivals has inspired me to up my game. The scene is made up of a lot of people who truly love music, and I don’t care if it’s five people or five hundred, you got to go out there and put on a show,” Greeley said.
Being in no way siloed to any one arena supports their versatility on stage. Whether it’s at a festival or at the Ardmore Music Hall (where this conversation took place) if you can catch Nik Greeley and the Operators, do so. You’ll be sure to burn a lot of calories.
Outside during set break an attendee asked me “who is even leading those jams??”
If that isa valid question, the frontman is doing their job.
Nik Greeley and the Operator’s summer is still heating up! You can catch them at Musikfest at 11pm August 5th and again September 14-17th at the Fall Threestival!
*Making up Nik Greeley and the Operators are Kenny Shumski-Bass, Zach LoPresti-Guitar, Zack Smith-Guitar, Joe Baldacci-Drums, Sam Gutman-Keys, Ian Gray-Trombone, Greg Rosen-Trumpet, and Jason O’mara-Sax.