G. Love and Special Sauce with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
G. Love and his long-simmering Special Sauce flavored the sold-out Culture Room Thursday night with a signature blend of blues, funk, folk and hip-hop. Since the mid '90s, they've been dishing out the same groove, and the people never fail to come out and lap it up.
It's a simple recipe that has kept them popular over the years: start with a slow, groovy bass line, add a simple, steady drum beat, and top it off with G. Love's unmistakable lyrical flow -- urban in accent and light in content. There is no doubt that this crew holds it down, but it would be a stretch to say that they push anything forward. Thursday nights show was a mix of time-tested classic jams and less-than-fresh newer material.
As soon as the opener dropped, the whole place seemed to fall right into the undeniable old groove right along with the frontman. G. Love was seated, dressed in all black with gelled hair, a turquoise guitar, and his harmonica rack around his neck as always, moving his knees together and apart with the rhythm.
They started the night off with a few trusted favorites. After "Blues Music," "Garbage Man" led into the first extended jam of the evening, featuring some really hot playing on the double bass by Timo Shanko, and a provided a smooth segue into "Dreamin'."
Once the "Who's Got the Weed?" (from 2008's Superhero
Brother) question was posed in its opening lines, it didn't take long for the crowd to respond by raising their joints towards G. Love. Without hesitation, he snatched one up and started puffing. He puffed on a couple more before the song's end and even sidetracked into Peter Tosh's "Legalize It" for a bit.
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The set then entered boringtown as the band played a few newer tunes. The new stuff seems to be weakly echoing older material, and filtering it through a poppy jam-band sound. No one, G. Love included, had nearly as much fun during this portion of the set.
The night kicked back into high gear when jammy jazz-guitar master Eric Krasno of Soulive came onstage as a surprise guest for a few tunes including the slow and sexy G. Love classic "Kick Drum." His appearance aroused a big response. After leaving the spotlight, Krasno remained on the side of the stage getting down with this foxy gal with a 'fro, to the delight of those who noticed.
G. Love closed out his set with the obligatory "Baby's Got Sauce" and then left the stage -- though only for a moment. He returned alone with an acoustic guitar and once again took his seat. After a couple of solo numbers, including "Booty Call," and then a couple more with Special Sauce, he brought Krasno back out onto the stage for a few, including an old-school cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice."
Although their new material is less than exciting, G. Love and Special Sauce still seem inspired and create a vibe that will keep the fans coming back -- possibly to a different stage. The Culture Room is rather big square-foot-wise, the stage is only visible from about one
third of the venue. So, when a show sells out, the pit in front of the
stage is ridiculously packed and the other two-thirds are scarcely
populated. There were many toes stepped on, drinks spilled, and complaints mixing
with the otherwise mellow vibe.
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Better Than: Your mom's marinara. Oooh!
Personal Bias: The Special Sauce was such a delicious marinade for my high school days that I've even forgiven G. Love for doing that Coke commercial a few years back.
Random Detail: As a girl tripped through the crowd over the Culture Room's "secret step" down into the pit area, she actually grabbed my friend's lady-part to keep from face-planting. I've never heard of this happening before. Apparently it came as a surprise to my friend as well.
By the Way: There are some sweet videos of G. Love doing his songs "you tube style" - just him and a camera - on his youtube page.