Music fans in New Hampshire were treated to a pre-holiday delight from Strange Machines this past Wednesday at Jewel Nightclub in Manchester. The cold rainy night before Thanksgiving didn’t stop fans from filling the venue before the family and food-filled holiday took hold the next day. Live For Live Music sat down with guitarist Mike MacDonald and bassist Craig Holland before their show to catch up on what they’ve been up to and what the band has in store for the coming months heading into 2020.
MacDonald dove right in with details on what’s on deck.
“The band is taking off full steam,” MacDonald immediately stated. “We’re hitting the road full time in 2020 with a big tour coming up starting in February. Some of the dates will be announced next week. We’ll be hitting the northeast, down south, midwest, and Colorado. We’re also going into the studio at the end of January to start working on a new EP. We have a bunch of new music we’ve been working on.”
Holland also jumped in to mention the two newest additions to the band–drummer Ryan “Claw” Clausen and pianist Josh Dobbs.
“It’s been really fun improvising with these two new voices in the band.” He then went on to add, “I really like playing for our fans in New Hampshire. They’re incredibly supportive and enthusiastic.”
“As for what the band has in store for the rest of the year,” MacDonald continued, “We are doing a weeklong run in the Midwest coming up. Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Rochester. Then we’re coming back here and doing the annual Toys for Tots event with Kung Fu in Connecticut. After that, we’re back in New Hampshire at The Stone Church in the last weekend of December, followed by Worcester. Those are the last two shows of the year … We are working on our mini-festival held at the Stone Church called Strange Days. It’s not a camping festival. It’s a two day event. The vibe there is really good and people can bring drinks outside. It’s a nice easy way to throw an event without having to worry about the liability of camping.” Holland also noted that “it’s really nice to have a long day on that Saturday in terms of what a typical show might be. We start the music at like 4 in the afternoon and have about six acts that day. It’s a lot of fun.”
As for Wednesday’s show, following a quick set by southern New Hampshire-based The Hot Chocheys, Strange Machines rocked the house with two full sets of improvisational goodness. The band eased into first set with tunes that built up over time, eventually heading into a jamtastic “Remote Dream” that was sandwiched by “Golden Rule”. This musical delight was stocked with a little bit of everything from the tender touch of feminine keys to growling bass and screaming guitar. The venue was stomping so hard that the floor was shaking alongside the tunes.
A fiery finish to set one was capped off by their new song, “Birdseye”, followed by Warren G’s “Regulate”, which featured a guest sit-in by Alex Petropulos of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong on drums. Petropulos blew the doors off the Warren G original with a strong-armed solo that made fans stop in their tracks. The band stepped aside to let him take over before taking the song to a finish and closing out the set.
The second set took off with an upbeat new tune, “Mac Sauce”, that was full of flowing keys and crisp guitar that featured touches of Spanish flair. As haze and kaleidoscopic lights bathed the stage and venue in an array of color, fans continued to dance and heat up the joint. “Juxtaposed” was crammed to the max with eclectic keys and bending bass tones that danced around each other throughout before an energetic “Brighton Tickler” bounded onto the set. “Side To Side”, “Tektonic”, and “Klepto” rounded out the set before they capped off the night with a Grateful Dead-inspired encore of “Feel Like A Stranger”.
The band was simply on fire heading into the holiday season. With new music on the horizon and a new tour coming early next year, make sure to catch them if you can. You just never know what surprises will be in store during one of their shows.
For more information on the band and upcoming tour dates, head over to the band’s website. Scroll down for the full gallery of photos from last Wednesday’s performance.
Setlist: Strange Machines | Jewel Nightclub | Manchester, NH | 11/27/2019
Set One: Motion Potion, Canopy, Golden Rule > Remote Dream > Golden Rule, Voice of Color, Birdseye,* Regulate^ (Warren G cover)
Set Two: Mac Sauce,*Juxtaposed, Brighton Tickler, Side to Side, Tektonic, Klepto
Encore: Feel Like a Stranger (Grateful Dead cover)
^ Sit-in from Alex Petropulos of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
* new song/first time played