G Love and Special Sauce: A Year and a Night
Label: Brushfire Records
Author: Jordan Selbo
Curiously, this music DVD was sent out to RapReviews.com and then to me. I mentioned it to a friend who's into jam band shit and he found it necessary to sit me down to watch his copy, which actually dampened my enthusiasm further (not to mention lessening my respect for said friend and his music taste—I'm a snob so sue me). But like the time I finally woke up and realized my mustache was an inch too long, here I sit watching it and writing. What follows are notations of a hip hop head on a concert movie about a band of white people playing instruments.
I never got the point of music DVD's in general anyway. Listening to music makes perfect sense, both live and recorded; however, watching music (live or, even worse, recorded) is sorta akin to touching a painting or smelling some ziti—at best a supplementary act to enhance the main experience, at worst a wan attempt at understanding the source material. Even Scorcese's “Last Waltz” failed to move me in any real way. “A Year and a Night” only confirms my general theory. Here we are taken on tour with a band that's been doing it steadily for almost 15 years, a band that doesn't particularly like each other, a band that isn't particularly innovative aesthetically or culturally, a band that seems to have a niche following of college-aged quasi-hippies and –hipsters.
With editing that favors snippets of multiple mini-scenes and mildly-amusing quips spliced in with brief concert footage, the film goes for a conversational pace and well-roundedness over deep fleeting moments of inspiration or musical marathons. In doing so, we are given a virtual touring experience; the only problem is that that experience is just not that cool. We're they're for the juvenile spats about acoustic bass between one 30-something semi-skilled musician and another; and the way G Love struts around like a modern-day Miles Davis, belying his paper-thin talent; and then for post-Real World shallow camera confessionals about life on the road.
Hey, looky here kids, we even get a special freestyle session backstage with the sweaty G Love, truckers hat tilted in that goofy but dope manner of the white(wannabe b-)boy, his mouth spewing a rap devoid of content, flow, flavor, vocal presence, or anything else that one would admire in a lyricist. And get this: he actually seems to impress himself! In the very next scene, we see Love tagging some awful amateur graffiti on a backstage wall, and ineffectively pimping on some sorority girls. This guy's like the modern day watered down version of Mick Jagger. He calls his music “hip hop blues” and describes his life as “the hustle,” while freely employing both rip off blues chops and derivative rhyme ‘flows.' Who stole the soul?
Small wonder that interconnections of negativity abound. I hate the sloppy mix of genre slipping that Special Sauce displays (alternately jam band, and lite—rock, –jazz, –funk, and all the bullshit feel-good grooves that implies), so is it surprising that I hate their stylistic, socioeconomic and even philosophic constructs as well? Jam bands are like the worst kind of freestyle rapper—constantly stopping to admire their own (overblown) virtuosity, lacking any compelling thematic or stylistic trademarks, and bland to the point of naptime. Come along and enjoy the ride through the U.S., Europe and even Asia! Aside from dropping out of school to follow the Dave Matthews Band, buying this DVD + live concert CD is about the geekiest thing you could do. If G Love's your thing though, I'm still not mad atcha. Just don't break down a quick freestyle when you see me, I may have to mash on you—‘cause hip hop this ain't.
Content: 4 of 10
Layout: 5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: October 9, 2007