Red Square in Albany got a lesson in funk when George Porter, Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners performed on Saturday, June 21st with special guests The McLovins. The Connecticut kids of The McLovins are known for their improvisational tunes and four part harmonies. George Porter, Jr. is recognized as the bassist for The Meters, a funky New Orleans band that has recently nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The McLovins opened the night with light hearted songs that were easy for the crowd to groove to. The boys have great chemistry together; there is very little verbal communication on stage because they don’t really need it. There is a constant beautiful flow through the set, great build ups and come downs, one song straight into the next making for one serious jam session. The crowd was delighted to hear teases from The Doors and The Beatles, and with the tempo getting kicked up, everyone could lose a little control. It was interesting to watch Atticus Kelly switch from guitar to keyboard throughout the night, sometimes during the same song. Jake Huffman had a soothing voice for vocals despite rocking hard on the drums. Towards the end of the set, they played the Tom Marshall-penned “Cohesive”, resulting in a climax of guitar riffs glory. Be on the lookout for The McLovins new album Beautiful Lights, set to drop this August.
George Porter, Jr. took the stage with his four piece band the Runnin’ Pardners, comprised of Brint Anderson on guitar, Michael Lemmler on keyboards and Terrence Houston on drums. George Porter, Jr. opened the night by saying how he was going play some of his favorite Meters songs, much to the excitement of the crowd. The band wasted no time laying out the funk with an extreme melody which came at the crowd with full force. Porter, Jr. is a wizard on the bass, playing with quick fingers and delivering a wide array of smooth sounds. In between songs during the first set, Porter, Jr. was quite the story teller, talking about different shows from “back in the day” and the adventures his music brought him to, plus giving credit to The McLovins for “playing real music”. Michael Lemmler erupted out and over the key boards during “Same Old Thing” trying to keep up with Porter, Jr.’s slick bass playing.
There’s always some perks to see a big name act in a small venue in your hometown. Red Square gave the audience an opportunity to get close and personal with the jazzy blues of George Porter, Jr. and company. The musicians were causal and comfortable in the space, which made for a relaxed environment where they were constantly joking with the crowd. Another perk was being able to get a good look at George Porter, Jr. lose control of himself but never his instrument. One of the funniest things throughout the night was every time that Porter, Jr. started to dip into another bass solo, everyone around me could be heard saying, “Oh sh*t.” Terrence Houston stole the show during the second set when he lifted his shirt over his head, resulting in a blinded epic drum solo session lasting for a solid five minutes. This music brings out the best in people, with the first few rows of dancers totally lost to the band and mesmerized by Porter, Jr.’s fingers. I was personally stoked to hear their rendition of “Iko Iko” by Dr. John, leading to a big group sing-along.
The McLovins and George Porter Jr hung around after the show for pictures with fans and autographs. It was great to experience so much talented music with such a small crowd in a small venue. Both acts will appear this year at The Gathering of the Vibes and The Catskill Chill.