“Assurance - the act or action of assuring: as a pledge, guarantee: confidence of mind or manner : easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty, something that inspires or tends to inspire confidence .”
This is a pretty apt description of the performance of The McLovins last Saturday night at Sully’s Pub. Seeing the band live at Sully’s always feels like going home, it’s the 4th time I’ve seen them there and I think it’s the 6th time they’ve played the venue, and its intimacy always impresses me. Not a very large room with the stage right in your face, it breaks the barrier between the audience and the performer. I love the power the bands are able to generate here and have come to expect great things and Saturday’s show was no exception.
Due to their drummer not feeling well, Jake was asked to step in and sound check for the head-lining act, The Breakfast. It’s so nice seeing the guys being treated as peers, they exhibit professionalism beyond their years, and the dedication to their music is impressive. As the band started their own sound check, Jordan Giangreco the keyboardist for The Breakfast, remained on stage and for a few brief moments, a nice little jam formed.
Now everything was in place, and the band broke into Deep Monster Trance, a new song inspired by Where the Wild Things Are. Barely a day old at this point, the song is anchored by a rolling rhythm attack, ascending guitar and bass runs that help propel it along. I was so surprised on how fully formed this song already is at this point, the lyrics adding vivid imagery and this is full-on epic psychedelic jam. DMT is a worthy addition to their repertoire and is going to become an audience favorite. Bri brought a chill vibe to the crowd easing them comfortably back down a bit, and then slid effortlessly into the bouncy Virtual Circle. This has become a juggernaut of a song, just savage and clipping along at a furious tempo always tethered by Jake’s unrelenting beat. Jason and Jeff trade licks back and forth between the choruses and really push the song right to the climax. Killing Time continued the aural assault, the band just totally focused on the task at hand, building off each other as the spirals up and out until finally evaporating in a sonic wash of feedback. This song is just a fiend live and is really demonstrative of the bands strengths.
YEM surfaces next, this is a popular selection and the Sully’s crowd responds enthusiastically. The band does a very nice job of stretching this out and making the jam at the end their own. At one time this was a staple for the band and it really focuses on their ability to work with complex rhythms and tempo changes. Now a few months down the road and my opinion is that may have outgrown some of the covers that used to comprise the majority of their show and any of their recent originals stand up just as well as any covers they play. Jake starts counting off Purple Trees and by this time both the band and the audience realize this is a special show. The band is just manhandling the music, showing no fear as they attack each piece and the energy that they are bringing is just phenomenal. This is a textbook show of force and control, no hesitation at all and no loss of focus. During the band intros in the middle of PT, Jake engages the audience and the connection is just alive as they rip through the second half of the song. At one point the members of the band all had their eyes closed, just reacting and acting on what they were hearing, just so tight in the pocket of the jam. After PT they were spent, but as they start to move offstage the crowd urges them on for one more song. The encore is Conundrum, the album title track to their first album and the song that I think is most representative of the album. The song is such a nice cool down, jazzy and breezy then complex and emotional as it drives to a crescendo. This was such a remarkable show, as if it all came together at once, the right band, the right crowd and the right night. Easily one of their best if not the best show I’ve seen them play. The show was bitter-sweet and speaks to the ephemeral nature of the music, no quality audio recording exists. I think there was just a video recording of this performance, so this show now will only live on in the memories of those who were there; this truly was a special night.