Spring arrived a week ago and with Snoe.down in full gear, the festival season is on. The McLovins were first time participants at Snoe.down this year and were asked to play a set at the picturesque K1 Lodge at Killington Resort. The lodge is a spacious room with high vaulted ceilings, a ton of exposed wooden beams and ringed with floor to ceiling windows offer breathtaking views of the surrounding ski slopes. During their soundcheck of Milktoast Man, the sound was tweaked a bit and the band was ready to go. The crowd started to funnel in and within a few minutes of the start time the room was packed with over 300 fans. The band jumped into the surprise opener of Milktoast Man, which was played at a brisker tempo than normal, filled with several shreddy guitar runs and the band served notice, they were in take no prisoners mode...
Deep Monster Trance follows Milktoast Man and was played to perfection, this is a great participatory song, drawing the crowd right in and the band thrives when the audience responds to the playing. This Town is a new ballad (and a free download!) that chills the room back down. slotting this after Deep Monster trance gives folks a chance to catch their breath and just listen to the melody and vocal interplay. Hell Yeah is another high tempo number popping the crowd right back up, a haunting refrain and some incendiary string work from Jason and Jeff are just icing on the cake. The set settles back down with the band's new cover "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes". This Paul Simon song has a lyrical delivery that really plays to Jake's vocal strength. More of a scat sing-song than a reggae or world music number, this tune had the crowd deep in a dance groove.
The high point of the set was next, the band launched into Virtual Circle and this just set the throng into frenzied dancing, stretching the song past the 10 minute mark, the song features a number of faux climaxes and each one drove the crowd on, which in turn just encouraged the band. 20 in a 35 was next and plowed straight into Purple Trees. Jeff then switched out his Strat for his Epiphone and they closed out the set with Tokyo Tea and Beadhead Crystal Bugger. The were urged back onstage for an encore and then they proceeded to tear the place down with Killing Time.
This was just such a solid set and on the heels of last week's Black eyed Sally's show proves this band is on the right path. The set pacing was excellent, with a set-list chosen to provide a series of peaks during the show, leading to the final climatic ascent. The image of Jeff leaning the neck of his Strat out to a fan so he could pick at the strings with both hands is going to stick with me for a while. The audience and band both had a blast, and I can see this is a great start to the future McLovins/ moe. relationship as the band's performance this weekend should guarantee them an invitation to moe.down this year. So the gauntlet for the festival season has been thrown down, upcoming for the band are runs at Strange Creek, Daffodil and Mountain Jam. The McLovins are a band to see live, if you've seen the YouTube videos or heard the Archive shows, you still have to see them live. The ball is in your court, they've done their job, it's now up to you to follow through... tag, you're it.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
I find myself this morning in full-on Snoe.down prep, just going up for The McLovins, though I may catch the Moe. slope show. I was reading Mr. Miner’s post today and I was reminded what I love so much about The McLovins. They are at a point now where they have close to a hundred shows under their belt, mucically aware of the score and their job now is to sell the show, push the music , day in and day out. I was struck during last weekend’s Black Eyed Sally’s performance of how at ease they are now, they don’t have any of the ego issues associated with maybe an older band, none of the fear of standing up to the scrutiny or living up to the hype.. They are fearless, resolved and unafraid to fail. The jamming is locked in, the group awareness is staggering right now, the trio know where they are in the mix yet at the same time, prepared to fly off at a moment’s notice. Snoe.down is the start of another busy festival season for them and a chance for this band to quickly make an impact.. anyone who sees them live learns the lesson quickly, this band has a trajectory and that direction is up.
So come and enjoy the show, it’s a quick shot up 91 to Killington, the lodge is at the top of the hill past the golf club. The first 50 people in get a signed McLovin’s handbill, a nice commemorative piece that you’ll cherish. When you read Miner’s piece you’ll see that The McLovin’s emulate Phish more in character than in music, more in attitude than in style, Phish has laid a course for success that anyone can follow, tho many choose not to do the work. .. The McLovins are a band that does it’s homework and is not lazy, they put the time and effort in, striving to improve on every show and on every song. The audience is the lucky recipient, we get to reap the fruit of the band’s efforts, and we are all so much the richer for it.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. The day is balanced with the sunrise and sunset exactly 12 hours apart. Last night in Hartford at Black Eyed Sally’s the McLovins put on a show that was an example of life in perfect balance. The mixture of a packed room, a wonderful sound system and a band focused on the job at task was alchemical. They played a shortened first set and then came back and plowed through a longer second set that left the audience spent but still demanding more. The night didn’t start quite so easily with Jeff’s amp cooking itself during sound check, luckily a spare house amp proved up to the task, they were able to go on with the show.
The first set opened with Cissy Strut which works its way into Rapper’s Delight for a musical mélange I call Cissy’s Delight. The audio was fantastic during the rap portion as a nice echo and delay added to the propulsive feel of this song. The new ballad This Town was up next, a clean and chill song firmly establishing a first set vibe. Deep Monster Trance just lept out of the gates and cruised along, DMT is now one of their best live songs, a sprawling and bellowing brute that turns the set upside down. Jason dons his fretless bass for the new cover, Diamonds On The Sole Of Her Shoes. This Paul Simon song follows the newer reggae / world music path blazed by the McLovin’s own Milktoast Man. After the thrash-fest of DMT, this song helps to bring the groove back down, slightly sultry and smooth. After Jason switches back to his Carvin, Purple Trees is counted off by Jeff. Jason then breaks one of his strings and is forced mid-song to change back to the fretless. Purple Trees is usually a second set piece, and the traditional band intros fit in here nicely in the later jam. A nice shout out to the crowd follows the intros as their value is recognized and credited as the fourth member of The McLovins. Purple Trees ends and Jake calls a short break to deal with the broken string.
The second set explodes as the intro to Killing Time unspools. This is the most powerful weapon in the McLovin’s arsenal, an aural vista that just bludgeons with its sheer power. With the final feedback buzz of Killing Time still ringing, Jason pounces on the bass riff to Break On Through. There is no hesitation or faltering in this cover, the crowd responds as Jason growls out the lyrics, Jeff tearing up the lead, imparting his own flair on this rock classic. Jake and Jason team-up vocals on the title refrain as the crowd roars their approval. Tokyo Tea starts as Jake lets the crowd know this is the song that they entered into the Bon Jovi competition, and a surprisingly large number of the audience sing along with the bouncy lyrics. Milktoast Man again sets an ambient vibe and allows the audience a chance to catch its breath. Conundrum shows up next and lays down a signature swing pace. I called Rocky Raccoon as soon as Jeff hit the first note in tuning, the song led to audience and Jake sing-along as the pace of this Beatle’s classic.
The set was just really warming up as Hell Yeah followed and Jason, Jake and Jeff were having such a good time and it shined in their performance. This is a band that thrives on the crowd interaction and the audience just loved what the band was dishing out. As of late Guilotine Machine has evolved into a free-flowing shredding showcase as Jason and Jake forge a rock solid base as Jeff cuts a swath through the monolithic rhythm. This is a stunning set piece as the band just stride through this sprawling soundscape. Beadhead Crystal Bugger is next, though only the third time played live this tune has already found its niche within the Mclovin’s eclectic playlist. This is their last song of the set and the band leaves the stage to chants of “1 more song”, “3 more songs!” “5 More!”. Somehow they are talked back onstage and they light into what has to be the most playful version of YEM they’ve performed. Jeffrey lost control of the song about a minute in, the band broke out laughing and meandered around a bit, but they eventually found their way back to the song, only to lose it again. The crowd was going wild, clapping along wildly and urging the band onward. They rallied and made it to the finish, a fitting end for such a special night. This had to have been one of the top 5 shows I’ve seen, and the band is right on track for the upcoming festival season.
The opening band was The Trey Wilson Trio, who shared some similarities with the McLovins. They are also a trio of youngish musicians, but the sound and style of the two bands are miles apart. TWB focuses on a nice arrangement of blues cover, mostly Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix, with a couple of classic blues tunes by Little Walter and Junior Wells. The guitar here is the focus, the drums and bass providing a solid rhythm section for Wilson’s guitar pyrotechnics. Trey Wilson is a very good blues guitar player and I’d really like to hear some original compositions from his band.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
So this weekend there's a couple things cooking, first up is the Bon Jovi Battle Of The Bands contest which the lads were astute enough to jump on and sign up. Bon Jovi is offering a local Connecticut band a chance to open the Friday March 26th show for the band at their upcoming Mohegan Sun run. The entrants will be pared down to four finalists which will be announced Tuesday morning on Craig And Company on 96.5 WTIC FM, and then an old school Battle Of The Bands will take place Wednesday night at Murphy and Scarletti's on Farmington. Feel free to heap praise on the guys, it's not supposed to affect the decision, but we should support the band, here's a link to the comment board.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I'd like to welcome Bob Doda here at OAOAOMT with a guest review of the Brooklyn Bowl McLovins show. He's fresh off an great Hidden Track interview with the guys at the Brooklyn venue. He chipped in with a nice review and you can check out his interview here.
There were no “300” games at the Brooklyn Bowl on March 7, but The McLovins were nothing short of perfect on stage.
In front of an audience ranging from the nation’s greatest generation through dancing 3-year-olds, The McLovins played a rocking show at the half bowling alley, half stage venue.
The Sunday afternoon kicked off with the opening licks to Tokyo Tea, a new fan favorite thanks to the slapping bass groove provided by Jason Ott and Jeff Howard, who puts the fun back in “funk.” The jam section stops on a dime reminding the audience of where exactly this colorful song began in the first place. They grabbed the attention of fans and bowlers from the jump.
From raucous to reggae, Milk Toast Man is a patient song with a laid back vibe. This song allows Jason and drummer Jake Huffman to harmonize their singing voices and take the musical scenic route...no rush. The McLovins jumped feet first into their next epic, Deep Monster Trance, which put Howard’s guitar on display. With his head nodding back and forth, the up and down arpeggios and machine gun tactics of the 15-year-old left jaws dropped. Huffman matched Howard’s intensity driving the piece forward with focused momentum.
After coasting through a tight Hell Yeah and Guillotine Machine, the boys premiered a song Howard described as “chilled out.” This Town is a short and sweet ode to risk taking whose lyrics were written while in Vermont for their Nectar’s debut. Howard came up with the riff one day while he was home sick from school. They are hoping the radio-friendly tune will catch the ears of record labels and radio stations.
The band was in the pocket for Virtual Circle, which followed the new track. It runs laps of instrumentation and built enough energy to run the bowling bowl return mechanism. Circle was followed by Killing Time, a song that allows Howard to take control of echoing effects and samples on his rig in a Radiohead-like finish.
Jason Ott took center stage on a cover of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, singing and pounding out the familiar bass-line while Howard showed off his slide skills.
Beadhead Crystal Bugger, a complex instrumental, closed out its set while making its world debut. The intricate composition took the boys a few weeks to learn and features some fun stop-start playing. There were no lighters in the crowd after Bugger, but the dancers in the crowd were not ready to go home. One more song was needed and it was a tribute to the fans.
Purple Trees has been a fan favorite special thanks to a spot-on Tweezer Reprise section and lots of room to jam. For good measure, tease-machine Jeff Howard threw in Another Brick in the Wall to make sure the crowd was on their toes. After a cymbal crashing, bombastic rock and roll finish, the boys seemed cool, calm and confident.
“We are more awkward off the stage than we are on it,” said Jake. “I can play for 1,000 people and have a good time, but if I had to give a speech to 10 classmates that I know, I’d freak out,” said Jason after the show.
It was a refreshing experience seeing The McLovin’s at the Brooklyn Bowl. The venue had a certain energy that oozed a sense of amusement from all ends. These high schoolers strolled in to NYC and acted like they owned the place. And they did.
E. Purple Trees
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Last Saturday’s performance at New Vizion was another one for the ages.. The Couch Tour idea is that McLovin’s fans , no matter where they are, or who can’t make it to a local show or to one of the larger regional events to virtually experience a McLovin’s live concert. The UStream technology is very empowering for an independent band, it places control and responsibility for how their media product is displayed and disseminated. David Colbourne has produced both the Conundrum album and Virtual Circle EP for the band, and was the host for last night’s party. David has a very close rapport with the band and his knowledge and instincts make him a natural choice for helping provide the best possible audio and video for a streaming show. Several days preparation went into making sure the technical end of the presentation was as good as it could be. The band had built it…but would they come?
Guests started to show up about ½ hour before the start time and the show kicked off a few minutes after 7:00. The 70 or so people in attendance quickly got into the groove established by the surprise opener, Purple Trees. Normally a 2nd set staple, PT is a chance for the band to free-form a bit, and a has become the go to spot for the band introductions. This time, the song became a beast, just all over the place, vibrant and explosive, with energy reminiscent of a set closer rather than the show opener. Deep Monster Trance was next, the crowd suitably warmed up after the previous juggernaut, joined right into this groove-centric jam piece. Bri was a nice chill after the previous two dance numbers and set the tone perfectly for the next song. This Town debuted as the closest thing The McLovins have come to a ballad. Dancelovin described the vibe as saucy, as the song mixes a smoky and sultry feel with some very thoughtful lyrics. Tokyo Tea is a crowd-pleasing high energy number that slammed right into Killing Time, a sonic masterpiece which brought the house down.
Cissy Strut was next, a cover that the band has made their own and they pair it half-way through with the Rapper’s Delight jam. This version of Cissy’s-Delight was just massive, a meandering rap-jam that really kicked the band into a higher gear. By this point the band was attacking every song with such determination, each member resolute and focused, and then the opening chords of Seven Nation Army rang out. I can’t be objective on this, this is my favorite of the McLovin’s covers, it’s the first song I learned to play on the guitar and it’s a chance to hear Jason bust out some vocals. The second new song of the night made its live debut next, Beadhead Crystal Bugger. This is a hyper-jam piece, chock-full of tempo and signature changes, echoes of Steve Vai and an undercurrent of King Crimson help to infuse this number with wild, progressive rock energy, another genre conquered. Milktoast Man a reggae chiller grounded the crowd after the previous number, very nice job on harmonizing vocals from Jake and Jason.
By this time in the set, the band has become a crucible, white hot and barely contained as the energy slips out and flows out over the crowd.
The thing that will stick with me most about the night is how diverse the McLovins fans are. Just as the band’s music is hard to define while blurring musical genres and styles, the fan base is also hard to put your finger on. You look around and see teenagers and twenty-somethings jamming and dancing side-by-side with older veteran jam band fans. I think it may frustrate the guys when asked to describe their demographic, they appeal to a wide audience of musical fans but that would have to be anyone who loves great music. The one common thread that holds this crowd together in rapt adoration of this band is that The McLovins are living their dream and they are making great music.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Today's the day, The Mclovins' Jam Around The Globe Couch Tour 2010, Live from New Vizion Studios in West Hartford, CT. We really have to thank New Vizion owner and McLovin's Producer David Colbourne for hosting this one-of-a-kind live concert. The festivities kick off at 7:00 PM EST sharp, log in or just lurk. UStream access is here if you have any questions about the event, you can find all the info here. The UStream chat room is open to all so please try and be civil and keep the language intellectually appropriate. 2 new songs debuting tonight, all I can say is they are breaking some defined genres with some very exciting new music.
Friday, March 5, 2010
So ya gotta hang on 'til tomorrow..come what may..tomorrow..
tomorrow.. McLovin's tomorrow.. it's always a day away ...
so around 7 EST tomorrow evening, you know what to do,
details are here and here. Let's show the band some love
and support after all this is free and for you, the fans!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Just 2 days until the weekend-long McLovins-ganza. 2 Free concerts, 2 new songs (probably) and surely twice as good as anything else you could have had planned. 2 chances to enjoy an audio out-of-body experience. Just hop online Saturday night for the UStream show, the guys have put a lot of time and a lot of effort into this as a show of appreciation for all the support the fan base has shown the band and all you have to do is sit back, plug in and enjoy. Sunday will be a lovely spring day in the city, a matinee show at the hottest new venue in NYC, Brooklyn Bowl. This show is also free admission, come on into the city for good bowling, good food, good music and dancing! What else can I say, this is going to be THE weekend.