In the midst of a brutal Pittsburgh winter, I was certain that my Friday night would be spent on the couch with a cold beer and the TV remote. G. Love and Special Sauce apparently had an agenda that differed from my own; they came to blow the damn doors off. Let’s rewind to Friday, March 6th at 5:00, just two hours before the venue doors opened to the crowd of fans patiently waiting in the frigid winter cold to experience the phenomenon that is G. Love and Special Sauce. A lot of my days working at Stage AE on Pittsburgh’s North Shore are the same: I get to the venue a few hours before the show, help the promotions coordinator with chores around the office, spend some time hanging flyers for upcoming shows and maybe linger just an extra minute to catch a glimpse of sound check. It gets a little repetitive when you’ve done for a hundred concerts. Sometimes I stick around for the show if I’m a fan of the band. Sometimes I just go home to aforementioned couch and beer combination. However, Friday night was different. I had listened to some G. Love before, I was acquainted with the music but had not given it enough of a chance to call myself a true “fan.” I must say, I was blown away by the performance of these three exceptionally talented musicians.
Matt Costa was the special guest who opened for the Sauce, and his style was unlike most acoustic musicians I’ve seen. He reminded me a lot of the Beatles (circa Sgt. Pepper’s) with his catchy, upbeat melodies and rhythms. To all the Beatles fanatics who I have just undoubtedly offended with this remark: calm down. No one will ever replace the Beatles. What I’m saying is that Matt Costa has captured an essence that provokes a similar feeling, for me at least. I digress. Mr. Costa’s ability to harmonize his vocals and guitar playing was excellent, which is no easy task considering how difficult it is to play one instrument, much less two at the same time. Seeing this show definitely put him on my radar, so hats off to you, Matt Costa.
Finally, the time came for G. Love and Special Sauce to take the stage, and they rocked this crowd from the very first song. G. Love was so visibly excited to perform for this group of ecstatic fans. It is so refreshing to witness a man who loves music as much as G. Love does. He was running all over the stage to make sure he could get close to as many fans as possible, and he never missed a note in the process. I love the way he uses that harmonica with his guitar to create sweet, bluesy euphoria. Some might call him a folk musician; others may say he is a rock star with just a dash of hip-hop. It was like listening to the love child of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. He even performed covers of “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” by The Beatles and “Season of the Witch” by Donovan. What an awesome way to pay homage to some of your influences! G. Love was incredible, but lets not forget about the Special Sauce.
I’ve heard countless times the phrase: “Give the drummer some.” Well I would like to take a minute to “give the bassist some.” Jim Prescott, to whom G. Love endearingly referred as “Jimi Jazz,” was out of this world. I’ve been to a ton of concerts, and it is very rare for me to see a band use an upright bass player. That alone caught my attention. However, I was taken two steps further by the talent of this man, who has clearly spent years mastering his craft. He was given several solos, each of which had the audience dancing and cheering with overwhelming enthusiasm.
Drummer, Jeffrey Clemons, had also brought his A-game Friday night. I watched this man do a drum solo with a set of brushes. Has that ever happened before? How do you generate that much energy without sticks? I think he may have been a wizard.
The whole show was killer from start to finish. I’m so happy I didn’t leave after work like usual. To top off an incredible night, I caught the guitar pick that G. Love threw into the crowd after his encore. Now I just need to find a way to harness his soulful energy and use it to advance my own personal musical aspirations.
– Shane Singer