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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Picking up the spare....

You may wonder who had more to gain from the recent team-up of Tom Marshall and Ant Krizan with The McLovins. Marshall and Krizan had just finished off collaborating with The Mclovins on their new single “COHESIVE”, and the live premiere of the song was at hand. The McLovins had played The Bowl a few months earlier but this show was another in a series of increasingly bigger performances since the die was cast earlier this summer where their show had vaulted them to another level. With “Cohesive” the band was now on everyone’s radar, and breaking out of the underserved reputation of being a Phish cover band. Phish phans are a saavy lot; Tom Marshall and Ant Krizan were taking a bit of a chance by hooking up with The Mclovins, though “Cohesive” probably put any thoughts of nepotism in the rear-view as this song is a true meeting of music and lyrics. I lingered a bit backstage before the show, knowing the show would be electric and I was convinced that the live meeting of these artists was going to be like capturing lightning in a bottle... The sound check came off without a hitch, with the focus placed on Wading in The Velvet Sea and Farmhouse, both the band and Tom feeling each other out a bit as the doors were opened. A small group of phans showed up early to catch a bit of the check and Tom had a wry smile and a gleam in his eye as he told me people were texting the sound check list, the word was out in the Phish community.

The house was buzzing and had filled up nicely by the time The McLovins bounced onstage, resplendent in their Ink Design Studios personalized bowling shirts. Deep Monster Trance slowly unwound, an ever widening gyre writhing and moaning. This is a perfect opener, sultry and breezy; slightly frenetic, setting the tone for a high intensity first set... The band slides into a jazzier mode and delivers This Town; Jake’s vocals are focal point of this tune though the whole band is loose and nimble; completely on the same page. Purple Trees follows, with Jeff handling most of the heavy lifting on this, Jason thundering along in step. The song morphs into Rappers Delight as Jason kicks it into gear, but instead of moving on, the song ends without the now customary Tweezer Reprise. I mark an asterisk next to this one, as there was no TreeDeTwee today. A surprising first set Tokyo Tea pounds away as this raucous dance party continues. Jeff helps fan the flames of an already incendiary set with a jaw-dropping solo.

Their unique take on Shakedown Street doesn’t allow the crowd to catch their breath as Jason and Jake trade vocals on this Grateful Dead cover, while they quickly convert this stolid jammer into an example of Shredding 101. Conundrum is another older song seeing a renewed life in recent weeks, a 6 minute roller-coaster ride of technique and style showcasing much of what this band has to offer. Tetop is the set-closer, a new song showcasing much of the bands strength in structure and lyricism, whetting the crowd’s appetite for the upcoming guest performances.

Rather than take a set break, Tom and Anthony are welcomed onstage, and even though they had worked with the band on the single, today was the first time the two of them had seen the band perform live. The next 20 minutes were pure magic. They sound as if they’d always been playing together; Wading in the Velvet Sea is first, the contrasting Harmony of Tom and Jake was just a joy. Farmhouse lopes along with the tempo a tad quicker than the original, the harmonies again ringing true, the guitars meshing sublimely, creating a slow and cool groove. Cohesive is a standout, this is the first time out for this song and they drive it like it’s stolen! Anthony stalks across the stage, setting up facing Jeff and they trade leads and rhythm as the song just rocks. Tom thanks the crowd and the McLovins and leaves the stage, the smile on his face is mirrored by the smiles of the audience, they’ve been part of something special, and it’s not over yet.

Anthony stays onstage and they start in on the opening strains of Caravan. Since the Red Square show in October, Caravan has become a vehicle for some amazing improvisation and jamming. I really can’t describe how awesome it was to see the guys and Anthony interacting, they were jamming and playing off each other, having a blast. Cissy Strut is another classic cover and again, Jeff and Anthony just tore it up while Jason held rock solid. Anthony left the stage at this point, and the band ripped through Virtual Circle, YYZ and Beadhead Crystal Bugger to close out the set. The guys and Anthony came back out to the delight of the crowd and just demolished a cover of Free Bird, tearing through a series of plateaus and giving the audience just what they came for.

This show had everything going for it, high energy playing, gorgeously languid vocal runs, double guitar pyrotechnics, this was the complete package. This was a professional show all the way, 5 great musicians getting together and created some amazing moments that the audience and I won’t soon forget. Greg got an amazing recording of this event, it’s up on the archive, and you should grab it.

I’d like to personally thank Dana Lynne for letting me use her photos that go along with this post. She’s a dedicated Mclovins fan, I first noticed her shooting back at the New Vizion studio show, and she’s become a regular fixture at Mclovins shows. She has 5 pages of pictures from this Brooklyn Bowl show up at her flick’r, follow the link and check out her amazing work.

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