Next up! Spooktacular!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Red Square Albany, NY 10/29/09

Last night it was time to move a little further south along the Hudson, down from the funky city of Troy to the Capital city of Albany. The Red Square is a nice club located in a nice brick building down by the river. Performing on a low-stage decorated with an amazing Great Pumpkin carved by fan Jeannette Olsen, the band seemed quite at home among the close quarters. The show kicks off with a nice bluesy jam featuring a thick Thrill is Gone-ish feel and after warming up they punch into Deep Monster Trance. This is one of their newer songs and this ode to the all things wild percolates with a deliberate groove until diving into the wild rumpus. Jeff kept running a series of ‘The Simpson’s” teases with Jake growling out his lyrics. The vocal mike kept acting up during this and the next couple songs, leading to even more energetic drumming from Jake. Shakedown Street is one of the more favored covers and leads to an expansive jam in the second half, Jake and Jason trade vocals during the song and the jam in the middle just erupts and any resemblance to the original song is just coincidental by the time they jump back into the chorus. Sea of Wisdom sees the mike problems easing a bit and playing a clean and crisp version of this song, very sweet and melodic.

Steve H called the next tune, 20 In A 35 which is the freshest of the new songs and the guys just tore this up. With no hint of the previous vocal problems, Jake nailed this one while Jason and Jeff dueled back and forth throughout the song. This really raised the energy level of the show, the band pouring it out to the crowd and the crowd responding. Virtual Circle followed and continued down the path blazed by the previous song, with Jeff repeatedly teasing “I Kissed A Girl” the song quickly escalates out of control spiraling upward for a few minutes before stopping on a dime and landing back in the chorus. Killing Time starts out so soft and melodic and ends up an unyielding force of nature, a sonic wave rolling over the frenzied audience who push the band ever on. This second half of the set, from 20 In A 35 shows the band in full control of the music, able to do as they please. Jake cool and breezy on the mike, Jason stomping all over the place running leads and clamoring rhythm and Jeff putting on a clinic in the use and abuse of lead guitar. Purple Trees is the anthemic signature piece for the band and has become the place for the band introductions. Jake leads the crowd in ovations for Jason, himself and Jeff, leading to a wind-down of the show.

Shorter shows such as these are bittersweet, a short, sharp, shock …a chance to get your McLovins fix. Akin to a brief repast, it is nourishing but not satisfying. These gigs are necessary to growth, if you are building a scene you need to be able to pop in and play the show and come back a month later and do it again. A very good show but if something was lacking, I think it was the missing 2nd set as they were just getting warmed up. A shout-out to all you McLovinators who showed up, Barry & Holly, Steve, Aimee & Scott, Jeannette & Kurt and Brock. The support given to this band is amazing and you all are a special part of the McLovins family.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cabbage Night

Off to Red Square In Albany,
Remember to plan your jams!

Great Pumpkin awesomeness by Jeannette Olsen

Linus & Lucy - Flatbread 5/28/09

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Musical Seduction and The Fine Art of The Tease...

One of the signs of growth in a musician is the willingness to step up and have a little fun with their craft. The McLovins have a playful side and they have the skill and confidence to allow it to surface in their music in many ways, and one of the most enjoyable is the fine art of the tease. A tease is a familiar musical aside tossed into the mix, usually during a jam or the climax of a song and the effect is usually one of surprise or delight. Jeff Howard has been tossing teases in as long as I've been seeing the band perform and many of these have become live concert staples.

This was one of the first that I picked up on, this is also a favorite of guitarist Warren Haynes who has used it to great effect.

The first time I heard this one was at the Brewfest show, during Sea of Wisdom.

Frankenstein shows up in the heart of jams, I've heard Jefff play this during YEM and Killing Time as a quick throw when he's running up and down the frets.

I'm not sure if it was the first time, but I noticed the First Tube tease when it showed up in the heart of the Shakedown Street jam they were playing during the Phish pre-show at Sully's this summer.

This has started to show up as a quick little rip in Cissy Strut, running through expansive jam that is a feature of this classic cover song.

The barn show was the mother of all tease shows, they were all over the set, they played a "tease game" for the first time and improv was the name of the game that night. Jason snuck a tight little "Do It Good" tease that Jake picked up on and carried a bit with the vocals.

But the breadth of the teases were just remarkable..

From the sublime....

To the ridiculous...

There is always one tease that always brings me back with this band. This is the first song I ever heard them play, from a performance on cable access television. It always makes me smile and just for me will always be the sound of The McLovins. In the spirit of this most festive of holiday seasons and the upcoming pre-Halloween show in Albany, I give you...

The Barn Show - Pick Up The Pieces and The Tease Game

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Barn Bash - Norfolk 10/17/09

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
you can't let go and you can't hold on,
you can't go back and you can't stand still,
if the thunder don't get you, then the lightning will

- Hunter & Garcia

Download This Show From The Archive

The McLovins played a private barn party in Northwest Ct. on Saturday where the band and audience helped to raise the roof! In a scene that would not have seemed out of place 35 years ago, parents, grandparents and children danced and spun to the music as the band plowed through a 2 set 3-1/2 hour show. The barn is nestled on a small ridge surrounded by oaks and maples, the ground carpeted with fallen leaves while the redolent aroma of wood smoke and mulled cider filled the air. A communal vibe set the scene as children and dogs toddled in and out among the revelers, old friends and new ones all savoring an autumn feast.

The band is always on top of their game, both professionally and musically, turning in a solid show but at any given day they are willing to stretch and reach for the extraordinary. The wild card of a performance is the audience, whether they choose to participate with the band in an act of creation, this is the ingredient required to push the music over the top. Last night this audience was musically savvy and attentive, a mixture of older Dead fans and tour heads that were well aware of what was being given to them, and appreciative and receptive to anything the guys were willing to try. Illustrative of what Jake said during the first set. “You feed off of us, we feed off of you”, the louder and more animated the crowd got, the more intense the music became. The first set started with a jam and was peppered with cover songs, but in what has been their style lately the band uses the covers as a starting point, choosing to veer off and embarking on a musical jaunt before finding their way back. Stretching an hour long first set to over 90 minutes, the jams slowly began to encompass the set, the songs becoming step stones guiding the band onward and leading the crowd along, willing accomplices to the spectacle. Expansive jams during the covers and a fanciful game of “Name That Tease” were the standouts of the first set.

After a break, the band again started the 2nd set off with a jam, setting a tone for a set of nearly all originals and having earned their trust, the crowd was with them all the way. Most striking was the abundance of smiles, the knowing looks and shaking heads of the audience. I think this really was eye-opening for a lot of those who attended, through YouTube videos they knew to expect a good show, but what they got was an extraordinary show. This set took the energy of the first and just cranked everything up to 11. The band was on fire, every song’s climax answered with a thundering audience response. Second set high points for me were Deep Monster Trance, Jason balancing on one leg while ripping bass runs during Virtual Circle, Jake deadening the sound of his floor tom with the heal of his sneaker (!) and the out-of-body experiences that were the Killing Time and YEM jams.

I can sit here and gush about how great they were, or throw a lot of $10 adjectives around, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. The final appraisal will rest with the listener, both those who were there, and those that will download this show. John had a great room to work with, the sound was just booming and hopefully it should yield a great recording.

I would just like to thank the hospitality of Jenny & Mike who owned the barn and were the perfect party hosts, and to Justin, Win and Warner who scheduled the party, only to see weather conditions force it into the secondary location. The setting was postcard perfect and we were all treated like family. I made a ton of new friends last night, Ben, Mike, and Bill as well as touch base with Drew, Steve, Barry and Holly. Hail and fare well to you McLovinators all!

Friday, October 16, 2009

20 In A 35 By The McLovins



A cop gave me a ticket

going 20 in a 35

Please Let Me Go

I won’t do it again

I yelled and screamed he laughed at me

man it was quite a sight

Please Let Me Go

I won’t say it again

I pulled back on the roadway

And shifted into overdrive

Please Let Me Go
I won’t pay again

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Main Pub 10/10/09

Last night's show was the musical equivalent of downing a 5 hour energy shot with a Red Bull chaser. They played a 60 minute opening set that was compact and precise while still leaving plenty of room to cut loose. Setting up in a non-traditional configuration with Jake on stage right, Jason in the center and Jeff over on the right, they settled in for a loud night. Right out of the gate they opened with the full version of 20 In A 35, the song that they previewed last Saturday night. A bluesy jam with similarities to Virtual Circle, this is more restrained and less frenetic, but still maintained it's ferocity. Deep Monster Trance just digs right in and carries you along, this ode to "Where The Wild Things Are" allows Jake the chance to flex some of his vocal muscle. Sea of Wisdom opens and it's warm and frothy vibe is enfolding after the adrenaline one-two punch of the previous songs. The second half of the song just blossoms and sets up Bri beatifully, this song casts an ethereal air over the set, and the haunting melody carries through the final vocals..

The stage set-up tonight really allows Jeff and Jason to achieve almost a telepathic connection during the show. The two play off each other, both totally aware of what the other is doing, Jake is captain of this trip and is able to view both at the same time, it really is a setup I think that works. Virtual Circle is a kick in the teeth, propelled by a triple attack of guitar, bass and drums.
This is such a fast and powerful song just grabbing you and dares you to keep up. Killing Time heard live is a true dichotomy, starting out with such clean and controlled guitar licks, and by the end just enveloping you in a cocoon of sound while it dissipates into a haze of pure noise. Toward the end of the song I had a moment of deja vu as Jason broke his E string. Jason later explaining the break was in fact due to faulty installation, though I'm sure it was a result of a raging case of "slappn' the bass".

The band really does have an advantage with such a solid bass player, Jason really walks between the worlds playing both leads and rhythm licks throughout their sets allowing real freedom for Jeff and Jake to just branch off and explore knowing that the main groove is safe hands. Finishing up with Purple Trees and with a broken string hanging, the band managed to cram an hour and a half set into 63 minutes, totally owning the stage, blowing away the audience and having the time of their lives. I saw a ton of new faces, and the excitement for this band is building. This show was a textbook example of how The McLovins have really turned a corner. Their age was at one time a novelty, but the band is now no mere teen cover band. The Main Pub set featured 7 original compositions, 3 of which have been written since the second week of August and they have become much tighter musically. When cover songs are performed, they are instead starting points, familiar raiment that the bad dons while still probing musically. The know just what to expect from each other, and when the unexpected does occur, they have proven to be extremely adaptable. They have upped their vocal game a notch or two, and as a group have proven to be prolific and capable in their songwriting. I hate to seem gushy, but this is such a solid band now, they should be convinced they can do anything, and many fans agree with them. A corner has been turned, the path from where they came from may now be out of sight, but the path forward is laid out before them, all they have to do is move forward.

"I pulled back on the roadway,
and shifted into overdrive"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Deep Monster Trance by The McLovins

3 Horns

and 14 eyes

The shadings dark

but to my surprise

my stare transfixed

It’s lucid disguise

Is it coy

or unflinching

My thoughts correct

heads on strait

Shivering howl

my mouth agape

From the deep end

the darkest place here

my vessel

sails me home

I’m starving

my suppers cold

I think

and it heats the bowl

Deep Monster Trance

unbolted the door

Deep Monster Trance

crack open the door

Cafe 939 Boston, Ma. 10/03/09

The moon was nearly full last night in Boston as The McLovins came to town and howled. Playing their Boston debut at the fantastic Cafe 939, the band played a blistering set in front of a very receptive crowd. Cafe 939 is a music venue and coffeehouse run by students of Berklee College of Music, with capacity about 200, this state of the art room has high end sound and premium lighting equipment. For their first performance in Boston, they picked a perfect room to play. Coming on stage right on time, Jeff broke into the opening riff of Shakedown Street, and the die for the evenings performance had been cast. Not satisfied with covering this tune, they chose to re-interpret it, stretching the chorus, adding a flurry of solos and bringing the crowd to a frenzy. In the hands of a musically less talented band, this would have been a fine encore and the fact that the band chose this song to open the show showed just how savvy they are becoming. Bri followed, an intensely personaly and moving song, the haunting lyrics and vocal performance just mesmerizing the crowd. Cissy Strut, dedicated to loyal fan Steve H, was also re-worked and turned into a showpiece for the band, allowing each member to break out solos and re-making the song their own. One of their newer songs Stencils Of A Landscape is a clean and stylized song, first time with vocals and is a brisk but meandering tune that flows right into Sea Of Wisdom. At this point the band was just completely in the moment, with a solid rhythm propelled by Jason and Jake, synchronized and mirroring each other and Jeff's transportive guitar work combined to make this song shine. This was the spot in the show when I realized we were witnessing something magical. Jake is usually an enthusiastic drummer but tonight it was bedlam, with his Octopus t-shirt and new McLovin's drum head, he was just a force of nature, forging a percussion assault. Jason is less flashy, more focused and deliberate though tonight he was just manic, rising to the ocassion and answering each challenge from Jeff and Jake with a rumbling response and anchoring the audio attack..

At this point I'd like to commend the sound of this venue. Lauren Caso is the Production Manager for Cafe 939 and was meticulous during the sound check and her attention to the sound contributed to what has to be the finest McLovins performance I've seen yet. This is a loud band and they frequently overwhelm smaller venues with their clamor, however Lauren and her crew staged a remarkably clean and forceful show. As evidence of this,
Killing Time put the sound system to the test, brutal and intense culminating in a shower of sheer force and sound. Guillotine Machine continued the punishing pace of show, with soaring solos and a pummeling rhythm. Rhyme and Reason has been missing from recent sets and made a welcome reappearance bringing a chill and melancholy vibe to the show. Although tempering the pace it also boosted the emotional tenor and it was the perfect cool-down to the set. Now another new song reared it's head, Deep Monster Trance which has managed to live up to it's name. Inspired by "Where The Wild Things Are" this is a worthy addition to the stable of musical allusions they've created as big, beefy and wild as it's name. Dynne stretches it's muscle, spotlighting the theme of force of noise and sound on life, bringing another brilliant climax and leaving the audience just spent. The band jumped next into YEM, choosing to bend and tweak the song though still hitting all the marks that a good cover should hit. The peak of the song finds the three engaged in a sonic free-for-all, ending only when Jeffrey breaks a string on his guitar. After a quick triage, Jeff leaves the stage to tend to his wounded instrument.

This leaves Jake and Jason to break into an impromptu debut of a song they've been working on this week, a bluesy composition stretched to a 5 minute thrash fest. Jason and Jake were explosive as they flex some jazzy musical muscle. Jason, normally stoic just shined during this song. Jeffrey returns to the stage and they rip into Virtual Circle, the first of four (!) new songs they've written in the last six weeks. Giving this torrid tune everything they have, it's speed oppressive as it ballistically hammers through a series of peaks to a final, smashing end. Purple Trees spotlights a series of band introductions and a penultimate climax to the show. Conundrum ends the night, shifting between swing cool and jammy exuberance, a fitting end to truly remarkable show.

Mention also has to be made for the performance of the opening act Vassal. Led by a friend of the band who now attends Berklee, Lucas Bickford. A quartet featuring Lucas and Brit Ness on guitar, Nick Coletti on bass player and percussionist Connor Grant, Vassal played a dreamy jazz and funk infused set. Among a selection of originals, they also covered Pat Metheny and also a couple John Schofield tune. This was their set list: Prelude >>> Blue, Untitled 1 (Funk Tune), Untitled 2 (Jazzy Tune), A Go Go (John Scofield), The Red One (Pat Metheny), Untitled 3 (Progish Tune), Everyone's Party (Metheny/Scofield). Lucas and Brit shared lead duties during the night, each with their own unique tones. Though just starting to perform live, this is a combination that worked and I would love to see them perform again.

Check out Vassal online - VASSAL

I feel The McLovins shine in these more intimate rooms, they are always loud as hell and in these settings they can just cut loose. Soon enough they won't be able to play these smaller venues, so we have to savor what we have now while we have it. Saturday night's show was just lightning in a bottle, raw and ripping from start to finish, and it'll be one I plan on revisiting over and over.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Funky Cheese Shack 06/26/09


On June 26, 2009, the McLovins made the trek up to Great Barrington to appear on WBCR-LP 97.7 FM. The show,"The Funky Cheese Shack" features live music and interviews and is hosted by Annalena Barrett and Hannah Talbot, themselves both high school students. Also along for the show was Pete (Phanart) Mason, the author of PHANART: The Art of the Fans of Phish, and co-author of Phan Food: from the Parking Lot to the Kitchen Pot. This was a lively show, the band getting on very well with the hosts and getting a chance to play some originals for the audience. Here's an MP3 of the the show archive, well worth grabbing.