The McLovins, a jam-band at heart, plays at Waiting Room in Buffalo
The McLovins walked onstage at 11 p.m. without saying a word. Silently, the band picked up their instruments and started playing, their heads nodding in unison.
Halfway through the first song at the Waiting Room, the crowd was already dancing to the beat.
The McLovins, humorously named after Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character’s fake ID name in Superbad, are a four-piece outfit from Hartford, Connecticut. Jake Huffman plays drums and serves as lead singer, Jason Ott is the bass guitarist, Justin Berger is the lead guitarist and Atticus Kelly is the keyboardist.
The band kicked off its 30-show tour Sep. 11, promoting their new album, which has a release of Oct. 5. On Saturday, the band returned for their second performance in the Queen City at the Waiting Room.
The McLovins, usually labeled as a jam band, showed off an impressive amount of diversity in their show, with hints of influences from funk, rock, soul, blues and bluegrass.
The band’s strengths were in its diversity and spontaneity.
“We’re gonna hit you with a little funk,” Huffman said before tearing off into a hard rock song with searing guitar riffs.
The McLovins could go from a soft power ballade to a song filled with jazzy keyboard and guitar solos into a hard rock jam session.
The band performed many songs off its new album, including “Hit It Quit It,” “H.T.L.” and “Regulars” as well as some of their older music like “Catch the Ball” and “Funk. No. 1.”
The majority of the crowd, despite not knowing The McLovins before coming out, would give a loud cheer after every song.
Most audience members danced wildly, a mix of flailing arms, bobbing heads and body shimmying.
Mark Murphy and Alexandra Lugo, 26, from Buffalo and Rochester, respectively, said it was the first time they had seen The McLovins, despite having been fans for many years.
Murphy first heard The McLovins on YouTube – the band released a cover of Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself,” which has more than 240,000 views, in 2008. Murphy said that video was really was made him interested in the band.
“They exceeded expectations with their high-energy sound,” Murphy said. “Their sound was great and I love seeing the crowd get so into a show.”
The Waiting Room venue made for an ideal intimate show. The crowd, about 40 or 50 people, remained high-energy for the entire McLovins set, despite having already seen two opening acts, Imperial Brown and Squid Parade.
Their jam band roots were evident – almost every song included a winding instrumental or solo. They made the quick genre switches, from funk to rock to blues and back again, feel natural the entire evening – an ode to their influence by Phish, a jam band that is well-known for their hundreds of cover songs.
Zach Westbrook, one of the guitarists in Squid Parade, said his band had also played with The McLovins for their Rochester show the night before.
“I loved their set – their sound is clean,” Westbrook said. “We got to hear them last night too its been great to tour with them.”
The band kept up a steady stream of songs until 1 a.m., ending a 5-hour long evening for concertgoers who arrived at 8 p.m. to see the opening acts.
Walker Gosrich and Javier Yu, both sophomore mechanical engineering majors at UB, arrived right when the first band started playing.
They said they wanted to just get off campus and do something on a Saturday night.
“What better than a concert?” Gosrich said.