Saving the best for last, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals lit up the crowd at the Fillmore last night. Arguably, they laid down the best 45 minutes of music I've ever seen.
The stretch began with the last couple songs of the set and continued through a hard charging encore that left the not-quite capacity crowd pounding the floor and cheering for more. As the opening chords of "White Rabbit" roped through the San Francisco crowd, I thought people's heads were going to pop off.
The ending jam was loud and spirited and real, as only Grace and the crew can do. The only bummer is that it seemed like an entirely different band from the one that started the show.
Maybe it was the camera crew. Maybe it was end of the tour fatigue. Maybe it was the new material with the radio play hooks and the soft rock touch. But for the most part, the first half of the show failed to move the not-quite-sold-out crowd.
"I hope you're ready to hear some new material," grinned Grace after the opening jam. "Cause you're going to get it." I seem to remember that she also tacked on "whether you like it or not" to the end of that sentence, but maybe that was my imagination.
When Grace Potter is on target, she's mesmerizing. That hair, that smile, and that unforgettable voice are a formidable combination. Her brand of music is beautiful and inspiring, and it's an amazing thing to watch her and the band work the crowd.
But as with any band .... or brand .... the debut of new material is Darwinism at it's best.
After they've been played, it's easy to recognize the ones that never should've been there in the first place.
But when a new song or a new product survives, it's not merely because it's fitter than the rest. It's because the new thing is a natural progression of the old thing.
It's true to your roots. It's a reflection of your heritage. And it's pure.