Next up! Spooktacular!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Won't you step into the freezer

It’s a bit before 3:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here furiously typing notes about tonight’s show while the experience is still fresh in my head. Waking up in a few hours I’m sure I’ll be a bit more objective and hopefully better able to express myself more clearly. First impression though, they crushed this, this band came to play and had the floor shaking, and left the crowd drained and on their knees. I don’t know if it was the full moon, or seeing Phish in Camden during the week, but they brought everything they had and with a surgically precise strike they killed!

Working from a concisely drawn up set list, the band plowed their way through a 1 hour set followed by a 1-1/2 hour 2nd. Jake handles the song selection, and always constructs the sets for maximum flow, the show having an organic feel as they move through a series of peaks and plateaus leading up to the final musical assault. They open up the set with a cover of Martha and the Vandella’s Dancing’ in the Streets, the classic summer paean to shaking’ your bones. This was played more along the lines of The Grateful Dead’s version rather than the Motown original. Slipping slowly in to Tokyo Tea the pyrotechnics started with Jeff just ripping leads and nimbly running up and down the neck. Virtual Circle kept up the high energy theme of the night, with an impressive series of tempo changes, while still retaining the song’s freight train velocity.

Milktoast Man is where the evening really crystallized for me. Set up in their current power trio configuration, Jake is playing from stage right, Jason in the center and Jeff is stage left. Jason and Jeff squared up for a series of complimentary runs, facing each other and leading Jason to rip the sickest bass solo, much to the delight of the crowd. Jake’s drum intro to Guillotine Machine has evolved into a full-blown drum solo, and is quickly followed by a dirty bass and guitar jam with Jason and Jeff again sparring with complimentary licks. Conundrum is one of my favorite songs off of their first album, and is so representative of the McLovins sound than anything off the first album Deep Monster Trance closed out the set with a slow bass groove, only to turn into an unchained beast as Jeff accentuates his leads by slowing down and speeding up again to catch the main groove, I’m pretty sure the song ended up clocking in at a bit under 15 minutes.

After a brief 20 minute set break, they break into Purple Trees, their anthemic crowd pleaser, once again Jason setting point and calling the thunderous transition into Rapper’s Delight. The crowd went nuts, bouncing and singing along, the band just reveling in the crowd reaction, easily drawing as much energy from the crowd as they give back. A smooth groove quickly follows as Jake breaks into Watchin’ The Detectives, a nice bit of a breath catcher following the set opener. 20 in a 35 is up next and has grown into a furious jam, pulling the band into a tightly wound powerhouse, just as the song starts spiraling out of control, Jake brought the beat back down and returned the train to the tracks. Bead Head Crystal Bugger is the band’s newest jamming vehicle, a potent progressive jam mechanism, with haunting leads and a rock solid rhythmic backbone. Again the energy in this show is insane; each song seems to rise to a higher level than the previous, a perilous ascent with short pauses before again scaling new heights. Jake calls out for a sing-along as Jeff and Jason dip into a laconic cover of Rocky Raccoon, setting the stage for an annihilating version of Killing Time. Jake offers a cautionary codicil to his introduction “there’s no explosions or anything” and wisely the crowd doesn’t believe him. This song is so epic in scale with an absolute deafening consummation.

Shakedown Street was called next, a traditional cover that has grown into a jumping off point for some very impressive second half jamming. Halfway through, the original tune is left far behind as the song is transformed into a bass and guitar jam showdown, before dipping gracefully back down into the groove. The set was winding down and I was expecting a forceful close. Jason moves up to the mic and I call Break On Through, though he had been suffering the effects of a chest cold, he seemed eager to attack the lead vocals. He broke out a smooth bass intro as Jeff slid in behind him with silky leads and Jason began to growl out the lyrics much to the delight of the enthralled crowd. I figured there would be a Phish closer and to my surprise it was Farmhouse. YEM is the traditional McLvoins Phish closer, a rollicking but technically demanding cover that doesn’t leave much room for musical exploration. Farmhouse was the cover choice at their Nectar’s show last spring and Jeff took the advantage this night to run a series of “No Woman No Cry” teases through this joyous sing-along. The band left the stage to cries of “One More! One More” were chanted by the crowd. Figuring Yem was next I watched as the band took the stage for the encore. Jason and Jeff talked for a bit and I saw Jake shaking his head as he waved off the first choice and after a quick minute they reached an agreement and it happened….

Jeff broke into the opening chords of Tweezer Reprise and the crowd went ballistic! I couldn’t believe this had been called. During the middle of Killing Time I made a note in my book to talk to Jeff about sticking a Tweezer Reprise jam in a future set, and here was the full song! Surely inspired by last week’s near legendary Tweeprise performances by Phish, the McLovins took this cover and made it their own, the whole bar was shaking, Jeff and Jason pogo-ing along with the crowd as Jake and the audience screamed out the lyrics. I really can’t explain how well this played out, it’s one of those see it to believe it moments.

Buzz Universe from Elizabeth New jersey came up to open last night's show for The McLovins. They are a 5 piece band comprised of Guitarist/vocalist Alex Garay, Drummer/Vocalist Dave Migliore, bassist/Vocalist Greg McLoughlin, Saxaphonist/Vocalist Brian Ciufo and Vocalist Rosie Lazroe. Buzz Universe is a energetic band with a sound I can only describe as folk/world/rock. They performed a sold 1 hour set, Garay's guitar work is very nimble and supple with a very nice sustain. Ciufo changed between sax and percussion all nights, with Mcloughlin and Migliore forging a solid rhythm base. The revelation of the band is the vocals with many of their songs featuring all 5 members in a nicely harmonic blend, Lazroe utilizes a nice punch vocal that pops right out of the mix. Set standouts included This Ol' Cowboy, Caballo Viejo and The Rock. I can't wait until they have a chance to play with The Mclovins again, perhaps next time a little closer to them.

The band opened their set with the original Another Way then covered Marshall Tucker's This Ol' Cowboy, then played Homer's Trio, All Of My Friends, Caballo Viejo before closing with The Rock.

This was such an epic show, not a false move was made as the guys were so confidant from the choice of songs to their musical swagger. The TweePrise was such a brilliant move, to be savvy enough to tap into the zeitgeist surrounding that song right now made this song the most obvious surprise to everyone except The McLovins. Summer is shaping up to be a behemoth with this show allowing the band to focus all their attention on the performance, they’re doing their job, it’s up to us now to support them and spread the word. This show sets the table for next weekends Nateva festival and this is a band on a mission and it’s taking no prisoners.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This weekend, The Main Pub!

There's a lot of excitement over this weekend's show, Saturday night at the Main Pub in Manchester. This is the first show of summer vacation for the band, and it's a local show before a slight summer break bookended by 2 festival appearances. Buzz Universe is coming up from New York to open the show bringing with them their unique blend of world music and jazz funk. The Mclovins have always played well at this venue, with the size and sound of the venue placing it right in the band's sweet spot. Riding into this weekend following a stint in New York, and a couple local shows following their Mountain Jam appearance, the band is primed to really cut loose and tear the roof off.

"An original eclectic blend of rock, jazz, latin & other world grooves, BuzzUniverse features smoking horns and a rock-solid rhythm section. Since 2003, the band has been performing and tearing up clubs and large festivals and has released three captivating albums. Described by Relix Media as "addictive & hip-grinding," BuzzUniverse has enlightened loyal fans with brilliantly crafted songs, incredible vocal harmonies and ferocious live energy. Native to Elizabeth, New Jersey, BuzzUniverse aims to spread their unique sound and positive vibe far and wide"

Tickets are available in advance here for $10.00, come down and catch one of the few locals shows the band will be playing this summer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Old Dad....

A month ago I typed a few word about the Mothers that help make this band so special, now I’d like to focus a moment on their fathers. Again, this is a total team effort, each parent contributes in their own way, each using their strength to help move this band forward, and tho they toil behind the scenes, their influence is felt at every show.

Master of marketing..

Sensei of sound..

Ninja of the lense..

So another thanks to the men who labor behind the scenes, lets crack a cold one and raise our glasses to the men behind the band, Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Show After The Show Black-eyed Sally's tonight!

So there's going to be (2) sets tonight, the first should get off about 9:30 and the second should start sometime around 11:15. Thanks again to Oh Kee Pah for linking to this, hopefully with al the phans in town there should be a large turnout.. there's an after-show down at Black-eyed Sally's tomorrow night also, so if you can try and make that one. But tonight, if you're going to the After-show, try and bring a phriend, they'll thank you for years to come..

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canton High School Benefit Concert - 6/10/10

It was a humid night in Canton as the McLovins took the stage. They were headlining a benefit concert for Jeff Howard's class, and in many ways this was a homecoming. In a summer full offestival and away shows, a nice local gig is a bonus and a show at one of the band member's high school makes it a rarity. With the opening chords of Toky Tea it was obvious this was Jeff's night. Jake skipped out on the second verse instead opening up an extended jam to allow Jeff a chance to stretch and get the musical kinks out.

Throughout the night the focus moved from one band member to another, Jake was orchestrating the night and giving a clinic on the flow of the show. There were a plethora of high points with Jason stepped up huge on Break On Through and Jake played a devastating Guillotine Machine intro. The sets ebbed and flowed along, moving from the racous extremes of Virtual Circle to the melodic chill of Watching The Detectives.

Finally forced to pull the plug after a pair of 45 minute sets, the band met and talked with their fans, most of whom were their peers and classmates. It's an interesting dichotomy, how do you handle the acclaim and excitement of the weekend shows, and then going back to school during the week.. it's an interesting situation, and one that the band is going to have to get used to dealing with. This summer is just beginning and the game is afoot.

Dave Malloy has a very nice audience recording of this show, you can grab it at Archive.Org. I've listened to it a few times and this version of Purple Trees really summed up the free-wheeling, take-no-prisoners tone of the night.. check out how controlled this is before just exploding at the 7:44 mark.. gives me chills.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Canton High School Tonight!

So tonight's going to be a very special show, a homecoming of sorts for Jeff. So not only is this benefit concert for a good cause, The band is going to be able to really show off what they can do. Come on down, dance around and scream your lungs out, summer is on the tip of your tongue and enjoy this end of the school year psychedelic dance party.. it's should be a blast.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quite a week and more to come..

It was quite the holiday weekend, from Thursday night @ Troy throug Saturday's performance on the main-stage at Strange Creek. I still owe a review of the second six songs from Good Catch, a review of The McLovins & 7 Walkers at Revolution Hall, and the Teen Cabin and main-stage shows at Strange Creek. I should get caught up by mid-week and then it's time to prepare for Mountain Jam on Sunday. I would like to take the time to mention a special show that is coming up next Thursday June 10th at Canton High School in Canton, Ct.

Jeff Howard is a student at Canton High and the band as agreed to perform a benefit concert next week at the High School auditorium. Kyle Mullins is pushing this hard to the Facebook group and if you're in the valley, this is really a no-brainer. A $5.00 ticket to a nice 500 seat high school auditorium and it's a quick 20 minute drive from anywhere in the Farmington Valley. We should easily be able to sell this out, tell all your friends and anyone you think may enjoy because with their festival schedule it's going to be hard this summer to catch them playing in your back yard.

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