By Chadbyrne Dickens
Albeit best known for baked beans, Irish heritage and the Red Sox, Boston supports a thriving music scene. The intimate 250 person club, The Church of Boston, provided an exquisite evening of entertainment with a young but proven jam act. Although The McLovins, a jam quintet based out of Hartford, Connecticut, was one of five on the bill that night, they received most adulation.
The McLovins splashed onto the scene four years ago as high schoolers with a viral YouTube video take on Phish’s epic “You Enjoy Myself.” With an onslaught of attention, the band garnered enough of a ardent fan base to play some of the most sought after festivals including Bella Terra, Mountain Jam and the main stage at Gathering of the Vibes. The group has released four records to date and the last, “Cohesive,” was produced by Phish lyricist Tom Marshall. The novelty of the talented band being as a young “boy band” quickly worn off as they consistently evolved to become a professional one.
Justin Berger (guitar) and Atticus Kelly (keys) joined the founding members Jake Huffman (drums) and Jason Ott (bass) on New Year’s Eve 2011. The Church of Boston provided an intimate space to best enjoy the band’s signature four part harmonies and improvised style of sound. The showcase only further demonstrated the band’s ability to make a distinctive mark with their unique musings but also shows their adeptness to improve from one performance to the next.
The one hour set was a barrage to the sense complete with bass noodling, bouncing and jumping funk rhythms and clean vocals with interspersed spacey fills of guitar prowess. The band sets forth no lead but rather alternating vocalists. Although Huffman provides effectiveness in the high register, the four part harmonies aren’t quite CSN caliber yet. However the standout is Justin Berger, who stole the show fingers manipulating his axe that had many staring in awe and with an anguished countenance reminiscent of John Mayer or Eric Krasno . A genre-transcending outfit, The McLovins proved successful whether a jam tune or a new song that sounded like reggae meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The audience proved satiated after an hour of spinning, grooving and hearing such a powerful performance.
With libations in hand, a clear view of the musicians on stage and ample room to dance with your favorite beautiful Little Rager on your arm, the night proved a stellar one for any in attendance. No longer the “kids” that interested some as a semi-novelty act best known for covers like YEM that initially put them on the map, the McLovins are a band to keep close in your sphere as they climb the ladder to success. A venue of this size was lucky to book a band of the caliber of The McLovins and although this “Church” was a non-denominational one, the McLovins were able to preach quality music for those ready to be converted.