Addison Groove Project, Mercury Lounge, NYC- 10/11
This past Friday night was an interesting one here in New York
City. Gov’t Mule was playing a much publicized gig uptown at the Beacon
Theater and there were more than a handful of "post-Mule" after-shows
peppered throughout the city, one of which was Addison Groove Project’s
gig at Mercury Lounge, with special guest Sam Kinninger from Soulive. I
chose to attend the Addison show over the others on the strength of the band’s
Berkfest set, which was one of the highlights of the weekend. I
was interested to see what Addison could do at one of its "own" shows and I
I was anything but disappointed.
I entered Mercury around 12:00 or so after briefly waiting outside the
venue. The Mercury Lounge, if you’ve never been there, lies in a fairly
upbeat section of Manhattan’s East Village, down on Avenue A. The "Lounge"
is hardly that, more a bar than anything, with a separate secluded back
section where the bands perform. Mercury Lounge has always been one of the
better places to see a band, for a variety of reasons, including the quality
of the sound, but most notably the unobstructed view of the stage the
audience has from virtually any vantage point in the room. I situated
myself about three quarters of the way back, dead center, and awaited the
arrival of Addison Groove Project.
The band took the stage at exactly 12:35 to a moderately packed room. The
amount of people present sent a clear message to the band that they had sort
of "arrived" in a sense, because they had nearly filled a room on a night
where several other bands in the jamband realm were playing. The band
opened with a quick run through "Beat Me ‘till I’m Blue", much to the crowd’s
delight. Despite the band professing to be a "funk, fusion, exploratory
rock…" band, they are mainly a funk band that dabbles in the other arenas,
and every time I see them, they get better and better at it. The first
three songs of the night, each better than the last, showcased the various
members skills, each taking turns playing over the lines. "4 and 1", the
final song before Sam took the stage was one of the best of the night, with
some incredible tight and concise guitar playing by Brendan McGinn, who
thoroughly impressed me over the coarse of the night. Sam Kinniger then
took the stage to join Addison for two songs, the ubiquitous "Pass the Peas"
and "Hang Up Your Hangups", the former being a chance for Sam to shine
(which he did), the latter being a full band "jam" before returning to the
song’s chord progression. Both Ben Groppe and Dave Adams, no stranger to
playing with other horn players, seemed perfectly content and comfortable
with Sam on stage, and all three horn players took turns wowing the crowd,
all the while John Hall’s steady bass playing thumped underneath, never
overpowering the other members with meaningless bass fills. Sam left the
stage at this point to a loud ovation from the thinning crowd, allowing the
band to perform several more songs, including "Shugy", which while probably not the best song
of the night, was the most memorable for me because it had some tight,
sharp start/stops which the band nailed on almost every occasion.
Addison continued to keep the crowd dancing well into the morning with its
addicting danceable rhythms. Sam returned to the stage to play three more
songs, including "Windjammer", which seems to be played by more and more
bands, including fellow Boston-based Uncle Sammy and also Particle.
Nevertheless, the collaboration between Addison and Sam Kinniger was
positive and powerful, as was the Addison’s entire set. The band continues to tour the
east coast for the remainder of October and if they come to a venue near
you, I definitely recommend checking them out. Other bands should hope to be
half as much fun as Addison.