G. Love & The Special Sauce Has The Cure For Stress


The second my friend and I stepped foot into First Avenue, I knew it was going to be an amazing night. We were a little late due to loosing track of time over some pizza and drinks at home but walked in to the sweet sound of an absolutely stunning cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (more on that later). My week had been absolutely insane at work and the realization that I’m moving into a townhome in less than a month was really starting to set in. I needed a show and I was at the point where I would take literally any show but I don’t think I realized just how perfect last night’s show was going to be. It was just what I wanted and, looking back, it’s clear that not just any show would have helped me out.

As mentioned, my friend and I walked in as opener Shamarr Allen was performing a jaw dropping rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I had never heard of Shamarr prior to last night’s show but within the first few notes I heard from him, I wanted to know everything there was to know about this man and his backing band. His tagline on his website is “New Orleans trumpet player without boundaries” and I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe him. I was absolutely captivated by Shamarr as he played his trumpet with such a feeling of passion and love that it was impossible to not fall in love. Shamarr’s set was a seamless mix of covers and originals with no shortage of improvisation which made it easy for someone who had never heard of him before to truly enjoy his set. Sure, I had had a hell of week but watching Shamarr perform and hearing his music lifted every weight off my shoulders instantly and that’s the sign of a damn good performance. 

Clearly I was stunned and left a bit speechless by Shamarr Allen’s set and honestly could have left when he was done and had been completely satisfied with how my night had gone but we still had headliner G. Love & Special Sauce. The only reason I know about him is because of my teenage years spent working in a hippie owned record shop. I was the lone metalhead at the shop and remember going in to work day after day and being greeted by bands like G. Love being blared by my older and much more hippie-esque co-workers. I would joke and instantly run for the record player before even clocking in as if it was the worst music I had ever heard but honestly it wasn’t and my co-workers’ music like G. Love & Special Sauce definitely left an imprint on me.

Although G. Love & Special Sauce has been around since 1992 and have been touring for what seems to be the same length of time (seriously one of the most hard working bands out there), Friday night was my first time seeing them live. I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of the show or what they were going to offer but as soon as they kicked into their set, I knew they were giving me exactly what I needed. Their laid back sound mixes everything from blues to hip-hop to indie rock in the most perfect way. I love the fact that they take all of these genres that seem to have nothing in common but somehow blend them together into a perfect sound that you can’t help but wonder how more people aren’t doing the same thing (although, even if others tried, I don’t think anyone could do it as flawlessly as G. Love & Special Sauce).

The atmosphere in the audience was just as amazing as the music. Sure, the show wasn’t sold out but there was something in the air that made the show feel absolutely packed. Everyone was doing their own thing. From people dancing around like nobody was watching to people getting one more drink that they could have probably done without, there was a very friendly vibe to the room that was the perfect setting for the show. My friend and I kept to ourselves most of the night since we hadn’t seen each other since before the holidays and we had a lot of catching up to do but the interactions we did have with other people throughout the venue felt more like bumping into old friends rather than chit chatting with strangers. Maybe it was the Minnesota winter effect coming into play (all Minnesotans seem to be a bit nicer in the winter when it’s bitterly cold just because, I mean, what else can you do when it’s -45 outside and you still have to go on with your life) but I think it could be more attributed to the music and the vibe that said music was creating.

I don’t remember how many songs G. Love & Special Sauce played nor can I remember exactly what songs they played due to not knowing his material all that well but none of that matters. Like so many other random shows that I seem to find myself at with no to little knowledge on the music or musicians, it was the atmosphere and the vibe in the room that had me in love with my night out and honestly, that was exactly what I needed.

I didn’t think anything was going to snap me out of my stressed out mood following the week I had and honestly I didn’t see any end in sight with my impending move but both Shamarr Allen and G. Love & Special Sauce snapped me out of it without a fight and I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to take on the world thanks to them.