Attitude is an essential ingredient in being a performer – especially if you’re music is a little “different”, you’re going to need something break down that wall of discomfort. I’m not talking a typical I-Can-Do-Anything Attitude. I mean an attitude like Brando in Streetcar Named Desire, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, or Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York. Some people call it swagger.
G. Love has swagger.
G. Love and the Special Sauce were opened by a band called Apache Relay. It’s clear that the Nashville based Apache Relay have seen their fair share of shows and certainly performed their fair share as well. It’s also clear that their influences and tastes are well and respectable. But, what’s not clear is what they’re trying to be. They’re a young band who hasn’t quite figured out how to combine all these wonders of the world into something cohesive and holistic. Instead, they’re a bunch of moving parts albeit fun to watch and great performers. As the great Ira Glass said, the Apache Relay are towards the end of their “gap years.” They’ll be good and they’ll be good soon.
But someone who has been able to holistically combine multiple influences from far and wide regions of the music stratosphere is G. Love. Showing off his blues capabilities while also rapping about “Who’s Got The Weed?” it’s clear that G. Love has been influenced by “old-school” rap, Bobby D, Delta Blues, and Tarantino flicks.
If style is a simple way of saying complicated things, than G. Love must have a lot of things to say.
He’s tall and lanky, and spends the first half of the show on a beat up old chair, ala Bukka White, Robert Johnson, and Solomon Burke. He constantly has a harmonica strapped around his neck like Springsteen or Dylan, and dresses all in tight black (pants, shirt, sportscoat, and felt fedora) indicative of another stage in Dylan’s career. He also raps quite well, curses a fair amount, and – in general – has swagger to go around.
He’s the perfect rendition of a modern Rebel Without a Cause, except with the cause of good music and great times. So maybe he’s just a rebel with a confidence and swagger too fun and too hypnotizing to look away from.
Having a career that’s started in 1993, G. Love’s been at this for almost twenty years — enough time for him to meld all these influences in a bold, tasty, sauce. In that time span he’s managed to build a cult following and spend a good chunk on a major label, indie label, and Jack Johnson’s label. He’s released around fifteen records, giving him a massive catalog to choose from. He started the night with “Milk and Sugar” went to “Fixin’ to Die” to “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and then it was all old school from then on.
Basically, G. Love played a fan’s dream show.
Although his newest album – Fixin’ To Die – is no slouch either as it was produced by The Avett Brothers and is a tremendous foray into bluesy folk rock that always seemed right up his sleeve. It shows his ability to depart from rap and marks a soft yet strong voice that compliments well with performers like Jack Johnson and Mason Jennings – both of whom started around the same time as he.
Overall, G. Love and the Special Sauce gave a fantastically fun performance and showed Boston what it means to have attitude and swagger — something only Tom Brady has right now. And although G. Love may not sell as many records as he deserves, he’s certainly proved himself as a great performer and frontman.
If you ever want to learn about style, swagger, and confidence – go see G. Love live.