G. Love performance charms local crowd

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    The House of Blues was jam-packed Thursday night with all different kinds of people, from hipsters to members of the corporate world.

    The night started off with singer, acoustic guitarist and keyboardist Eric Hutchinson, who produced a surprisingly full sound considering he was only backed by an electric bassist and a drummer. The audience was very receptive to Hutchinson, but by 10 p.m. everyone was ready for G. Love & Special Sauce.

    They were welcomed on stage by fanatic screams. Frontman Garrett Dutton III, better known by his stage name G. Love, sang and rapped while playing guitar. Bouncing around the stage in a slick black suit, reaching out to touch the hands of fans and throwing out rhymes the audience could relate to (improvised lyrics included mentions of Dallas, Deep Ellum and Texas), G. Love exhibited tremendous charisma.

    Keyboardist Mark Boyce, unafraid to stray from the instrument’s usual rhythmic context, took on melody and discord. Percussionist Jeffrey Clemens defied the common quip among musicians: never give a drummer a microphone. On the contrary, he backed G. Love’s vocals with excellent harmony and even threw in some comedic improvisational lyrics where the timing was right. But the star of the night was clearly bassist Timo Shanko.

    G. Love announced Jan. 15 that Special Sauce bassist of 16 years and founding member James “Jazz” Prescott is no longer part of the band’s lineup, so I was both curious and apprehensive about how the band’s dynamic sound would be affected.

    Shanko definitely held his own on stage. For most of the night, he contributed the thick sounds of an upright bass to the funky melodies that came through from the keyboards and guitar. Toward the end of the set, he swapped out his upright bass for his saxophone, adding a classy element of jazz to otherwise scandalous songs about uncomfortable encounters with the police. Finally, he switched over to his electric bass and accompanied G. Love on a few acoustic bluesy tunes during a much solicited encore. It was hard to divert attention from Shanko, whose unassuming stage presence allowed the audience to truly focus on his talent.

    The band as a whole was full of life and never skipped a beat, flowing seamlessly from one song into the next. It seemed like the performance was one long track, making it easy to get into the groove of the music. At times, the momentum was broken by the order of their setlist: slower tunes like Baby Got Sauce interrupted the high energy level produced by funky jams such as Cold Beverage and Booty Call. But as soon as the tempo kicked up again, the audience was screaming and in motion.

    Song for song, G. Love & Special Sauce put on an amazing performance. The stage presence, musical talent and dynamic between band members was overwhelming during the entire set and encore performance. Next time the band is in the area, I know I’ll be back for some more G. Lovin’.