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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2001/07/08
by F.R. Tuente

Jen Durkin and the Conscious Underground, Uncle Sammy, Dan Rockett, The Paradise, Boston- July 6

First off, let me say that the Paradise is by far my favorite venue in
Boston. While I had heard that the whole place had been renovated when it
re-opened six months ago, I didn't find many differences last night. It is
still a cool club with many different atmospheres available with its nooks
and balconies. Unlike the boxiness of the Middle East and the frat haven
of Harper's Ferry, the Paradise Rock Club is exactly that- a club designed
for rock bands and their fans.

The show opened with Dan Rockett's new lineup. Scrapping the jamband theory,
his three piece was a rootsy, down to earth rock set up more reminiscent of
Bruce Springstein or Jerry Joseph then Jiggle or Another Planet (bands and
musicians with whom he has associated over the years here in Boston.) While
I felt that the house mix was too loud, Rockett's vocals and songwriting were
easily showcased to a growing crowd.

Uncle Sammy took the stage as the club was beginning to get busy. The band
immediately fired up and wasted no time. The first song, an instrumental,
featured searing solos from every band member. Especially notable was Brian
O'Connel's amazing bass solo. The band then took the vibe down for a very
lounge version of Beau Sasser's "Pergatory." "There's a two for one
special…" The set then morphed and stretched to include a great version
of "Feeling Optimystical" which is a song that is defining Uncle Sammy's
style. The band meanders through crazy trance beats and exploratory jams
while returning regularly to the theme's recognizable guitar riffs. Max
Delaney has outdone himself with this tune, and his guitar work did not go
unnoticed.

The rest of the set finished up with a great Sociology and ended with an
energetic Ricky Rabbit. I'm just starting to have seen enough shows to know
which Sammy songs are which, and this one is turning out to be a favorite.
Mid-way through the jam, Brian O'Connell told a strange story called the July
ritual, involving naked soy milk soaking and hungry, sexually depraved house
cats. You had to be there…

Jen Durkin's Conscious Underground came up next for their fourth show ever.
The band is a hard core combination of funk, rock, metal, and hip hop
elements. This night their lineup consisted of drums, bass, guitar, congas
and percussion, and of course Jen Durkin on lead vocals. She shared her
vocal duties with Pauley Ethnic, whose city stylings and great stage
presence really turn the trick for this band. Instead of tearing the same
old page out of the George Clinton book, this band experiments with some
wider influences, from Bad Brains to Etta James.

Durkin is as lovely and spirited as ever, taking time to thank the crowd and
welcoming her band to Boston. In my opinion the musicians are a bit more
innovative then Durkin's last band, Deep Banana Blackout, but haven't gelled
in the same way that band had yet. The rhythm section created by the
combination of congas, drumset, and bass were tight yet loose enough to
allow the band breathing room. The vocal combination of Pauley and Jen made
for a greater variety then one would expect, coupling his spirited hip hop
style with her wailing and belting.

I am interested to see how this band develops. With its all star quality, it
is difficult to say how much of a chance they will have to play together,
but Durkin's fans should have ample opportunity to check them out. Durkin
observed, in the same way that I had, that the night's line up was a stellar
combination of styles and energy. Hats off to the Paradise, for once again
rising to the top of the Boston club scene.

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