Melvin Seals and JGB
I Second That Devotion
Article and Photos By: Jennie Walker
It’s hard to describe the Melvin Seals & JGB show in one word. “Peaceful” comes to mind with couples dancing during the slower songs, people laughing and enjoying themselves, people dancing in their own world. But, that ignores the cheering as Melvin Seals and Zach Nugent took a solo, accompanied by the heavy drum beats of Pete Lavezzoli, the deep bass of John-Paul McLean, and the beautiful singing of Sunshine Becker and Lady Chi. Perhaps you could instead settle on “Carefree” then, bringing to mind the idea of people enjoying themselves without a worry, but that ignores the hard work it must have taken for the band to be as in sync as they are. They traded off solos and supported each other like they had been doing it all their lives, knowing when it was time to take the spotlight and when it was time to move to the next song. Patient? The band took their time with each song but patience implies waiting and the audience was very much in the moment. Colorful? Many people came out in bright tye dye and the lights certainly flashed all the colors of the rainbow, but there were concert goers in all black and at one point the lights were a bright white, only shining on the audience so the band could see the people singing the words back at them and dancing like their lives depended on it.
From the start with “Second That Emotion”, people sang out the lyrics to their favorite songs. Granted, songs like “Lay Down Sally,” “Brown Eyed Women,” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” had the largest amount of singers, but it didn’t matter if people knew what the band was singing, it just mattered how they were playing. It almost had a “friend’s band” type of feel. Before the first note was played, the people around me hollered phrases like “Is that a spit shield?” (about the glass around the drummer) and “Play it Zach!” to the lead vocalist. There was respect from the crowd, but none of the blind hero worship often seen, where the crowd craves to touch the singer’s hand. People who have seen Grateful Dead shows and the original Jerry Garcia Band many times over came out to listen to the modern day set up.
Lighting shone in reds and blues for the majority of the show, spinning across the curtain backdrop and onto the walls and floor. For the first hour I kept track of the music and took note of the lighting changes. Yet I couldn’t escape the good feeling around me even if I had tried. As I wandered around the venue, listening from the front row all the way to the couches in the back. I saw people swaying and jumping to the sounds that somehow seemed perfectly mixed in every spot. For the first set I took photos and took in the scene around me. For the second set however, I put my camera down, nodded my head to the music, and took in everything I could.