Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at The Chicken Box
By Regan Flynn</i
Photos by Amanda Morgan
Waiting anxiously for Grace Potter’s sold out show to begin, I noticed that I was at a decidedly different Chicken Box. The predominately over twenty-five crowd pushed closer to the stage as the countdown to show time began. In addition to the more mature and far less raucous audience, there were large metal barricades blocking off the entire stage, something I personally have never seen at the Box. My lucky proximity to the bouncer at the secret-knock side door allowed me to overhear several comments from ticket holders indicating I wasn’t the only one who thought this level of security was strange.
It’s now past 11, the fans are eight deep against the barricades, and I find myself wondering, what’s the deal with this chick anyway?
My questions were about to be answered, as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were ushered in with secret service-like intensity by a guy wearing a gas station attendant shirt with ‘Elmo’ stitched on the breast. Grace was as hot or hotter than everyone had said, and the male Nocturnals could’ve been mistaken for Stillwater (the rock band in Cameron Crowe’s award-winning Almost Famous), were they not dressed in their best business-casual attire: slacks, button-downs, and vests.
“Well, well, well” is all Grace said before they launched right into “Joey,” a funky, sultry jam with a screaming crescendo that left me feeling like I’d just been spanked – in the good way. The next two tracks brought Grace to the keys and the crowd to attention. “Mastermind” had a bit of a pop/country feel and was an easy connection for the audience, while “Toothy” provided that bouncy, reggae feel that islanders love so much. The two and a half that followed brought us back down, with a bluesy, R&B-style grind. Halfway through “Ah Mary,” however, we were jolted back to life with some straight up killer rock & roll, which resulted in mass amounts of head banging pioneered by Grace herself. I was blown away by the strength, range, and mystifying quality of Grace’s voice and was equally drawn to Matthew Burr, the captivatingly happy drummer with the handlebar mustache.
The next few songs were all about Ms. Potter. The tantalizing mood was set off not only by red lighting, but Grace’s sexy dancing, impeccable vocals, and intense lyrics had everyone enthralled. Knowing we were hooked, the band went right into “Some Kind,” a ho-down, happy hippie jam session that had everyone jumping and left Grace “warm”. What a perfect time for the “White Rabbit” cover we were all hoping for. For reasons I’ll never understand, Grace nailed the first verse and chorus, but then it was abruptly over. I have to assume there were technical difficulties, because the next song started just as suddenly and was loud as hell – in the bad way.
Lucky for all, they got it together and busted some serious funk with a major jam session followed by a fun a cappella sing along. To say that the last encore left me feeling satiated would be an injustice. The track, which ended in the entire band on the drums together, was “Ballroom Blitz” meets the Allman Brothers and B52’s on one stage.
I think I get it now. This is an extraordinarily talented and borderline upscale jam band with a smokin’ hot front woman, something we’ve not seen in the past. The fact that we were just lucky enough to go on a musically intricate journey with them and all the while watch Grace’s well . . . everything . . . makes us feel like it must be our lucky day.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have something so exceptional and flat-out hot that we, unfortunately, may never see them on Nantucket again. If they do decide to keep coming back to our special island, I doubt we will get to see them for twenty bucks. And that, quite simply, is the deal.
Regan Flynn is a freelance writer living and working on Nantucket for the summer.