G. Love and Special Sauce Deliver Sugar and Spice with JJ Grey and Mofro and Big Head Todd and the Monsters 8/18/15

JJ Grey and Mofro could easily have been describing the weather during a performance of “Slow, Hot & Sweaty,”Tuesday night at Paper Mill Island. Luckily, a delicate sprinkle of raindrops helped cool the crowd as they grooved to the trumpet and tambourine infused rhythms of the southern rock group. For much of his performance, Grey stood proudly at the edge of the stage, leaning towards the crowd, charismatically belting the words with sassy hand gestures to get the point across. He was only thwarted from his passionate gesturing during the last song, for which he took up a tambourine in each hand to accompany his band mates.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters followed, busting out on stage and playing right over the house music, not wasting time. Todd Mohr delivered a number of impressive guitar solos on the two guitars he frequently switched between. Sporting some silly facial expressions and plenty of smiles, he delivered a satisfying rock performance to a group of fans that already seemed fairly dedicated. The apparent fandom became strikingly clear during “Bittersweet,” when half the men in the crowd pulled out their phones to capture video footage of the tender performance. During a bouncy rendition of the fast-paced “Rocksteady,” drummer Brian Nevin expertly tossed a stick in the air, catching it in beat with the song to the audience’s delight. Their set ended with “Broken Hearted Savior,” a bluesy ballad that got much of the crowd singing along. As the song ended, a gentleman at the front of the crowd blew a chest full of vapor from his E-cig, which floated upward toward Mohr. As it clouded Mohr’s face, he playfully pretended to breathe it in, giving the crowd something to laugh at before the band left the stage.

As G. Love & Special Sauce prepared to take the stage, the crowd dynamic shifted slightly, as younger audience members made their way closer to the front. Garrett Dutton, a.k.a. G. Love, strutted out and immediately sat in the chair stationed front and center, flapping his knees to the beat, harmonica holder dutifully propped inches from his lips. Accompanied by upright bassist Jim Prescott and drummer Jeffrey Clemens, the three-piece group brought a laid-back hip-hop vibe to the amphitheater. Dutton let the love for his fans show as he reached out to high-five them mid-song on several occasions. When a woman in the audience offered up her tan fedora, Dutton dutifully wore it, as he smoothly spun around to adjust a knob on his amp with the head of his guitar. The playful antics of the lead singers in all three bands provided a fun atmosphere, preventing the evening from blending into another typical Tuesday.

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