Sunday July 5th was the start of Providence Sound Session, the annual week long music festival that transforms Providence into a Mecca for musicians from across the nation. Every music venue across the city and some beyond host a healthy variety of live shows, from every musical genre you could imagine. Tuesday was the first night I got the chance to hit the town and head to McFadden’s, a Sound Session participating venue. It had been a while since I had seen Love Money play out, and it would mark the first time I’d had the chance to see J.U.D.A. Strain play, even if they had a musical relationship I would refer to as buddy bands. Seemingly close, they have shared many bills, have a vast familiarity of each others music and sing the others praises whenever the chance presents itself. It was a work night, so I had been debating whether or not to head down for the night, knowing full well I’d have minimal chance of wrangling either Nicole or Tim to tag along. After receiving a reminder email from Love Money regarding the show, I reprised my role as the lone show goer and headed out the door.
I arrived halfway through J.U.D.A Strain’s set by my estimation, amidst a good cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Mike Faria was providing strong vocals with a bit of a grunge edge, while playing rhythm guitar. Nick Anthony on lead guitar was nailing the riff and blazing into it new life. D Funn was bopping along to the rocking familiar bass he was laying out. Brent Goff rounded out the foursome laying heavily into his kit, no doubt Ginger Baker would be proud. Melding into what I consider, at this point, to be a bit of a blues standard they played “Born Under a Bad Sign,” in the vein of Cream. Originally scored by Booker T. Jones, penned by William Bell and made famous by Albert King, Cream’s version remains my most familiar, notably due to my obsession with the super group, blues trio in high school. I instantly related to D Funn’s bass line and was singing along most of the song, before preparing the camera for the evening. Having readied myself I recorded the rest of their set, starting out with their original, “DMT:”
It rocked out from the start, heavily influenced by 90s grunge, Mike sang it with power and conviction. D Funn played a catchy bass line while Brent rocked out a back beat. Nick tore up a hot melodic solo after the second verse. Aside from the obvious grunge comparison the song also had a good blues and jam feel during the musical sections. Next they played “Atlas,” another original:
This one started out a bit slower and built up power and speed as it continued. The moniker grunge stems mostly from Mike’s vocal style, while musically they rock out and extend well, lending to the psychedelic. Mike and Brent jammed out while Nick adjusted his guitar’s tuning before playing an Alice in Chains cover next “It Ain’t Like That:”
I’ve never been a huge Alice in Chains fan but the song had a vague familiarity was the rocked from verse to verse. Winding down their set they played their self titled “J.U.D.A. Strain:”
Again they came with a hard rocking sound, but really jammed it out with some haunting, psychedelic, melodic guitar riffs. Utilizing a false stop to slow the pace and judge the reaction of the crowd they came back with another minute of instrumentation and howling at the microphone, pumping up the crowd. As J.U.D.A. Strain begain to clear the floor for Love Money I ran outside to have a quick cigarette between the break, running into a multitude of Judafriends who were excited to discuss the set. After an American Spirit and some elated conversation I returned inside just in time to catch Love Money open their set with “Mr. Johnson:”
Kyle Carlson started strumming on rhythm guitar before starting in with his strong lead vocals on the first verse. Lee McAdams was on lead guitar bending out a bluesy feel. Kevin Gaspar was thumping the bass groove while Stephen Mason was providing the rocking back beat. This version, more rocky than I’d previously heard, was a departure from the decidedly bluesy versions previously experienced. Their second song, “Welcome to the Nightmare,” a newer original started mellow and worked into a rocking song, before mellowing back out again:
The pace of the song seemed to mirror that of a dream state, following, and staying true to the context granted by the song’s title. Melodic and soothing at the start, it quickly changed to a frantic pace, signifying the start of the nightmare, only to bring back the soothing tones as the nightmare subsides, returning to a restful state before awakening. Love Money returned to a bluesy rock feeling with a rendition of their “To Dream (Is to Gamble):”
Kyle seemed to be singing more powerfully and passionately this night then other times I’ve seen them play live. Lee, always impressive on lead guitar, was going for the jugular and playing hard and fast. Kevin whaled on the bass, showing more confidence in his abilities, and Steve pounded fervently on the kit, with some great fills. It was definitely the most exciting version of the song I’d heard them play to date, albeit the shortest. After “To Dream..” I noticed Lee setting up his talkbox (think Frampton on “Do You Feel Like We Do?”) and knew “The Sun” was about to rise:
One of their newer originals, I had heard it performed before, at their AS220 show, I believe. The guitar tones had almost an Indian feel to them during the extended musical introduction, with Kyle on the interesting lead riff. Lee was playing a wahing, howling lead guitar through the talkbox, Kevin bound up and down the neck ballsily, Stephen rocked out on the drums, showcasing his most impressive work on the night. Upon the setting of “The Sun” I was correct to anticipate the reggae toned “The Moon” next:
I love it when they play these two back to back. Lee tore up the lead as usual on this one and added some blues to the green, yellow and red feel of the song. Playing another new song next they started a psychedelic introduction and began “Atheist:”
Kyle and Lee were facing each other and building from each others vibe. Kevin and Stephen laid out strong rocking beats upon which the rhythm and psychedelia were laid. Chaining the next two rockers together Love Money played “More Soul” into “I Am:”
Lee went on the attack with his axe again blaring into his lead portions and even lifting it to his shoulders to wow the crowd. Kyle again played some interesting lead riffs before starting in on his rhythmic duties. Kevin was the most experimental I’ve seen him, standing out more than previous times I’ve seen them play. Stephen was providing his consistent steady rock drumming to which I’d become accustomed. Announcing their final number, they broke into the bluesy “Please Go Away:”
Another high energy exciting version of a Love Money song with which I was familiar. Overall it was the most impressive set from the young lads of East Providence I’d seen to date. They were really growing their sound and melding even better together. The excitement and tightness exuded at the show just further compounded my disappointment when I heard that Stephen Mason decided to move on, and won’t be drumming for Love Money any longer. At least I got to catch the last show with him behind the kit.