After driving for 40 minutes to Lockport, a trip that included an emergency diarrhea stop at a McDonald’s bathroom, then standing in a crowded parking lot for three-and-a-half hours, with representatives from a local bank whipping t-shirts and frisbees at my head in between bands, I was in no mood to have fun last night. But I was still looking forward to seeing Blues Traveler’s Molson Canal Concert Series set – my first time seeing these dudes since their memorable show at UB in 1995. First, however, local legend “Baby” Joe Mesi came out to emcee some weird kickboxing weigh-in thing, and called the band “The Blues Travelers” twice. I guess it would be unfair to mock him for that, with him being a baby and all.
When the band finally took the Molson Canal Concert Series stage, all of this was forgotten. John Popper & company’s set was marked by their serious improvisational chops and turn-on-a-dime synergy, something they’ve been sharing with crowds for over 20 years. And while they’re not exactly relevant artists these days, they also aren’t trying to relive the mid-’90s, when one of their lamest tunes became a monster hit. (I like coffee and I like tea too, but you’re not gonna hear me singing about it.) These guys remain a jam band with a purpose, marked by dynamic muscle and good songs. They soloed like crazy during this set, but only a few times did I hope they’d move on to the next number. That’s mostly thanks to Popper, who’s harmonica skills remain awe-inspiring.
My review goes into things in more detail, but if you don’t feel like reading, just know that they smoked.