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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.

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