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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!

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