McLovins Review

Charleston Pour House, Jan. 17, 2016

by Kara Smoak


Winter: the worst thing to happen to Charleston, SC.  In a town that revolves around being outside, people lose sight of what they can do (and where they can drink) when the warmth has escaped this beach side city.  Thankfully, there’s a little gem nestled right outside downtown called The Charleston Pour House.  If you’re anything like me who lives and thrives off live music, no matter what it is, this place will quickly grab your heart.  With live music, indoors almost every day, there’s no excuse any night of the week to not be able to go out and enjoy yourself, even when it is chillier than normal.

Since MLK Day means no school on Monday, or work for most people, it was a no brainer to head to my favorite venue to enjoy my extra weekend night.  This was my first time seeing the McLovins, a four-man improv jam rock band out of Hartford, Connecticut and I was beyond impressed.  Their youthful energy was accompanied by a light and airy sound.  Watching them jam was so refreshing.  While many jam bands lean towards the older side or have a deep, darker sound, they stuck to the roots of traditional jam ways of playing, but with a more vibrant, colorful sound.

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They opened with “H.T.L”, a smooth, funky tune impossible not to make you smile.  Jake, the drummer, is also the lead vocalist.  His voice just melts and rolls with the lyrics.  It’s rare to ever see this kind of organization.  Once again this is refreshing, and gives them a different twist than most other bands.

Playing almost solely originals, the next tune that really struck me was “Thick of It”.  This tune was a little more rockin’, but melodic with a genuine flow to it.  They go down tempo then rise back up; it forced you to feel the emotion behind it.

The show was intimate, but connected.  The band drew in the audience by making eye contact with the each and every person, not just looking straight back into a mural.  It was just a circle of energy between the band and the audience.  There was not one member that over shined another.  They all carried their own part equally, all shining with the same amount of brightness.  Jason, on bass guitar, just slams the bass line on “Gold in the World” an original they played toward the end of the set.  Justin makes his guitar sing in a way that’s mesmerizing, impossible to take your eyes off of.  Atticus sat back and laid it down on the keys, surrounded with smoke as he frequently chiefs on his vape.  Their chemistry was undeniable.  Being able to jam goes far beyond just being able to play notes, they are successful at this because of that chemistry with each other.

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I made my way outside to roast under a heat lamp, and take a few drags off a cigarette.  I could hear to music carrying on inside.  As I am making small talk, I hear something familiar.  Immediately, I end my conversation and waltz back inside.  For their final song they covered “Ophelia” by The Band.   Anyone who knows me knows there is nothing I love more than a good cover, especially from a band I was born decades to late to experience, but a band whose music I still fill my ears with daily and appreciate immensely.  There was no better way to end it than that.

If you ever see the McLovins are passin’ through your city, don’t miss out.  They are young, but hold a huge amount of talent.  With their full of life energy and genuine youthfulness, there is only room for them to move forward.