Next up! Spooktacular!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Under a Thunder Moon

The McLovins have had very good full moon weekends stretching back to their first Boston show last fall and last night’s Thunder Moon fete at the Main Pub 30th Anniversary Block Party was to be no exception. Equal parts homecoming and coming of age celebration, the band played a 2 hour set that was a perfect snapshot of the band’s current trajectory with no sign of growing pains. Coming off a 3 week break that saw their NATEVA performance achieve a mythic status online and Jeff’s visit to Israel, the band showed no effects from the layover and seem to have picked up right where they left off.

Expectations were high going into last night’s set, this was a tune-up for next week’s Gathering of the Vibes and after the layoff this was the band’s first local show in a month. Local Boston band Brothers McCann commanded the outdoor stage when we arrived and their blend of funky pop had the Main Pub crowd bouncing. They play a mélange of roots pop with a funky edge, their addition of keyboards and saxophone add color and depth to the sound. The best line of the night came from McCann Brother Pat or Mike who said “Up next are The McLovins and you’ll feel like you’re standing over a grill because your face will be dripping!” So the show got under way only about an hour late but the music would be as hot as the day was.

Deep Monster Trance kicked off the night and from the start it was apparent that the 3 week hiatus hadn’t meant a thing. The band brought in an incredible amount of energy and focus, feeding off of the crowd and pouring the emotion back out through the music. The third song of the set was Purple Trees and that’s when for me the night just took off. Jeff had already displayed some insane flourishes, and Jason and Jake were right with him but this night Purple Trees was a standout. This is my favorite song off of Conundrum and lately has been the springboard to their version of Rapper’s Delight. The surprise was as the Rapper’s began to die off, Jeff and Jason pulled the trigger on the intro to Tweezer Reprise and the crowd went wild, this is such a powerful song and the trio just destroyed it. In another interesting move, they dropped smoothly into Sea Of Wisdom, a second song off of Conundrum that’s been missing from sets for some time. This was played note perfect, very punchy and full in keeping with the tone of this show. Sea of wisdom was a nice tempo change and a bit of a lull, and then Milktoast Man which has been a recent set chiller, this was also twisted a bit with a second half jam that had an intense and shreddy feel, very loose and unhinged until dropping quietly back into the Milktoast groove.

Summer in the City was an appropriate choice for a warm mid-summer block party. This was last played at Strangecreek, and this time out Jason had a new effects pedal which was given a workout. Jake’s vocals were outstanding this night and Jeff had the perfect guitar tone for this cover. Cissy Strut was another surprise and is always a fantastic jamming vehicle for the band, Guillotine Machine and then Tokyo Tea closed out this extremely high energy, rocking set.

The real strength of this show comes from both musicianship and their re-acquaintance with their catalog. I think the band right now is in a position where their segues and drop-ins are perfect, as a trio they are more flexible to move in and out of jams, completely leave the original song behind and then on the turn of a dime bounce right back in. The show really gave them a chance to stretch, try some new things, remember some old things and all the while have a great time. Lately their jamming has a harder and funkier edge; no mere noodling here, this is Type II jamming, weaving threads of Prog, Jazz and funk into a heady pastiche that is satisfying both musically and thematically. The band is primed and ready, bring on The Vibes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Catch review in August issue of RELIX

click pic to McLovinize

We're knee-deep in the run-up to Gathering Of The Vibes, but I'm just going to take a moment to mention a very nice review of GOOD CATCH which is coming up in the August issue of RELIX magazine. Amy Jacques wrote a great review, and has a solid handle on the band and the direction they're headed. Make sure you pick up a copy of this issue when it hits the stands, or better yet, subscribe so you can follow the future adventures of The McLovins and you know, I bet you can get the band to autograph a copy for you at a show.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Basking in the after-glow.....

They knew within seconds of the end of the show that all the practice and hard work had paid off, and paid off in a big way. As the band came off the stage, a phalanx of photographers and fans ran up to congratulate them. The audience was still going wild and some of the crowd came up with wide eyes and broad smiles looking to meet the band.

I always draw the cues about the show's success from the back-stage crew. For the most part these are journeymen technicians, they've seen it all and heard it all, so when you hear excitement in the voice of a sound or lighting man, you can be sure that it's sincere. Sometimes you can be too close to the band and though I really try to be as objective, it's easy to just go with the flow, so it's always great to see your opinions justified by that of professionals. I also notice how the band is treated by other bands that they play with. Their peer bands and even veteran musicians treat the guys with respect and professionalism, knowing that there is talent and drive behind all the success that they've achieved.

After an extended meet and greet with many of the fans that hang around after the show, then the gear gets stowed away and the last of the pictures are taken, it's time for the guys to enjoy the rest of the festival. We walk around for a bit and a constant stream of people come up to the band, praising the show, thanking them, taking pics, and it's just a whirlwind as they make their way to the hospitality tent. The band catches their breath for a bit and gets re-hydrated and then they take some time to go backstage to the main stage area and meet up with some o f the festival head-liners.

The rest of the afternoon is a blur of hellos and picture taking, as the band meets Ryan Montbleau, members of Drive-By-Truckers, Grizzly Bear and then they met the man. Wayne Coyne. Now Coyyne is the visionary lead vocalist cum driving force behind The Flaming Lips. Wayne is a very focused-soft spoken, gregarious man and he and Jake really hit it off. I'd like to think he was responding to the fact that here his band was headlining at a major new festival and in front of him was a hard-working talented young band who were just starting to make it. After some more camera time, he mentioned to the band that during the lips performance they like to bring people up from the stage to dress up in costume and dance during the show and would The McLovins like to do this at that night's performance? Jason and Jeff and Jake were pumped and after being shown their costumes, all that was required now was waiting until that evening's performance.

needless to say, there's much more to come from Nateva...

Friday, July 9, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast for a brief commercial message...

Just a quick post to remind everyone that tickets are on sale for the McLovins August 21st show in Old Saybrook at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. I got my tickets yesterday, The Kate is an intimate room that hold 250 so this will sell out. Get your tickets early so you're not shut out on this one, it's going to be great.

The Kate Box Office

Monday, July 5, 2010

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way

Force is described as a push or a pull on an object. Force can also be due to phenomena such as magnetism, gravity, or anything else that might cause a mass to accelerate.

Shortly after setting up our campsite and tent, we set off for the shuttle that was to take us on to the venue, and that’s when I first heard it. “Mclovins!” someone shouted as we entered the bus and my daughter Kayla turned and smiled as we settled into our seats, hoping this was a harbinger of things to come. I try and wear Mclovins colors at all the away games, leaving no doubt as to whom I came to see, and this summer the “McLovins!” shout outs were growing in number. After a fairly thorough search at the gates, we strolled off to find the venue. The main stage was to the right side of the fairgrounds, dominating the scene with its wide spectator field and two flanking stages. The main lane leading into the scene was festooned with dozens of tents and vendor booths, resembling equal parts Country fair and Renaissance festival. After a bit of fumbling, we managed to find the Port City Music Hall Stage, a very large and spacious shed that looks to be used as a multi-purpose building for agricultural or 4-H events.

Grand Hotel was playing to a crowd of a couple hundred and after listening for a bit, we trudge on to catch up with the band. After wandering a while we caught up with The Mclovins and set out on further exploring the grounds. The shout-outs continued as the band took in the sights and sounds of this new festival, though the vibe was a bit different, and surprisingly there weren’t that many people around. Rustic Overtones was playing the main stage to a crowd of a couple thousand. The double stage set-up allows for a band to be loading in and setting up the stage while another act carries on with their own set, and the turn around time between shows is cut down to less than a half-hour. We spent a bit of time with the band on the main vendor area, stopping by to take pictures at the Gathering of the Vibes tent, and meeting up with many friends both old and new. Ryan Montbleau was taking the main stage and we managed to catch a good chunk of his set before setting off to PCMH Stage to watch the show.

The hall had cleared out from the previous band, and with the exception of a few tapers and the crew, we had the place to ourselves. Nateva had an excellent sound and lighting crew who quickly and efficiently had the guys set up and ready to go within 15 minutes. Now a small crowd had grown and they were about 5 or 6 deep at the front rail, but with about 10 minutes to go before the show a nice and steady stream of people flowed into the hall. The band took a quick minute to circle up and get their heads into the show before they took the stage to begin the show. Most festivals don’t have a traditional sound check, so after a minute or two of tuning, and with the room about half-full, Jake counted off the intro and the band broke into Bead Head Crystal Bugger. High energy and full of thick, syrupy bass and guitar leads, BHCB has quickly become a show staple, a potent and progressive stew spiced with just a touch of metallic flavor. The sound in the hall was full and powerful, Jason’s new bass amp just booming while Jeff’s typically pyrotechnic playing was in full effect. Playing a 45 minute set with the promise of an encore, the band tore through the performance.

Deep Monster Trance took on a booming tenor as Jake’s vocals soared and filled the room, the sound a siren call to all, as the audience quickly swelled while people continued to pour in. Tokyo Tea followed in DMT’s footsteps, an effervescent romp with a killer back-beat. This was the tipping point of the show, the hall was packed, you couldn’t squeeze anyone else in, the back VIP balcony wall was stuffed, and people were outside dancing and spinning. Milktoast Man is a nice chill number, but this usual set cool-down had little calming effect on the crowd who quickly started clapping along with the song. It’s striking how Jason and Jeff use tone and controlled power to such a great effect. The tempo doesn’t have to be racing for the song to drive; ‘the prudent application of force” that’s the McLovins sound in a nutshell for me. Jake and Jason trading lyrics, creating a soulful sound as Jeff conjures strains to envelope the crowd. Virtual Circle is the set closer, again raising the tempo and amping up the crowd, Jason and Jake just crushing the vocals as Jeff just shreds..a plain and simple application of force.

Having hurried the show along, an encore was certain, would they bust out YEM or would the call be for something else? The band stood grinning from ear to ear like a set of Cheshire cats as they knew what they would play, nodding furiously they again took their positions as the crowd worked itself into a frenzy, but you don’t need me to tell you what happened, Tweezer Reprise dropped and the place exploded.

50 minutes; sometimes that’s all it takes to create a buzz, maybe it’s all it takes to create something mythic. There must have been over 10,000 people at Nateva on Saturday, and it looks like the McLovins played to a crowd in excess of 1,300. This single performance set off a series of events that led to what happened Saturday night, and that, will be a tale for another time…

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to Maine....

The McLovins - Port City Music Hall, NATEVA - 7/03/10

Bead Head Crystal Bugger
Deep Monster Trance
Tokyo Tea
Milktoast Man
Virtual Circle

E: Tweezwer Reprise

Once again, things take a turn and the guys start down a long and winding road....