Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sea of Otters

So, they’re either middle age or within spitting distance; we’re not getting kids with MTV dreams (or would they be American Idol dreams?) Heck, I never watch videos and never seen one worth watching! Not then, not now.  But the thing about the older cats, they’ve learned how to play and how to play together. Sea of Otters – dang clever name – prepositions are the shortest words in the language, yet this one placement changes an entire species! – sort of looked frumpy and a little too relaxed when they started their set, but the energy of their songs dissolved age-bias preconceptions. Their guitar based, neo jam band grooves seemed the perfect musical compliment to a breezy early summer late afternoon free of humidity. From the first song on, their bright, improvisation-laced sound enraptured.  It was one of those sets, where the children on the AstroTurf danced to the beat, those seated around the ground level stage paused their chatter and soon swayed with the sound and many of those passing through stopped to hear then stayed to the end of the set.
Their sound reminded me of Blues Traveller and Phish, but with less indulgence and fatter hooks, mid-tempo romps that allowed room for extended guitar work.  The audience was with them by the third song or so. Maybe some of their songs sounded a little too similar, but that seemed okay. They all had an infectious bounce, yet edgy, trippy lyrics. Towards the end of the set, the back up singer took the mike for a rip-roaring cover of because the Night, replete with a searing, gleefully long guitar solo.

What a fun band. They had a great set. Last year, the band had reformed after an extended hiatus and played a less than memorable set. Amazing the difference a year can make, these guys were tighter. The bounce in their songs had also a choppy kind of stop-on-a-dime suspense that seemed to touch on distant influences of Peter Tosh and Thelonoius Monk.
The musician had a familiarity with each other, a shared sense of purpose that the songs were bigger than the players that can only come with experience. The guitarist and lead singer said about the other guitarist that they had been playing for 30 years. The musicianship on exhibit at Groove on Grove was the type that only comes with age; the musicians seemed to encourage each other. They were filled with surprises. These old dogs came to the stage with some new tricks. It’s always that way with your good friends, you are eager to see each other and always have something new to tell them.  

These pictures aren’t that great, sorry, although great is not exactly the adjective that comes to mind with the best of shots on Dislocations. The only seat I could find was a patch of concrete behind the sound board. The Sea of Otters attracted and kept the attention of a larger than usual crowd. Think of it s a different angle on a Groove on Grove blog post.

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