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.
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…