with G. Love & Special Sauce and Lotustarr
On The Bricks Concert Series, Centennial Park, Atlanta, GA • July 7, 2001
Roi J. Tamkin
Atlanta radio station 99X’s On The Bricks Concert Series continued through to another successful week with appearances by national recording artists G. Love & Special Sauce and Tonic. The weather held out for another gorgeous Friday evening with local rockers Lotustarr opening the show. Even with the great weather, accessible venue and free admission, it did not appear to be as crowded as I thought it would be. Perhaps that sardined feeling from Music Midtown two months ago have kept some people leery of outdoor concerts.
The crowd was as big as it was going to get when G. Love took the stage. Backed by his band Special Sauce, the Philly trio played out their funky R&B/jam band mix to the teenagers in the audience. The blend of tunes that are a cross of Sly and the Family Stone and Grateful Dead seemed to go over well in a crowd adorned with more white T-shirts and Braves caps than tie-dyes and beads. G. Love brought a special guest, Jasper Thomas, as MC for a couple of songs. While Jeff Clemons pounded on his drums, Jim Prescott thumped on his upright bass, and Garret “G. Love” Dutton jammed on guitar, Jasper injected a little hip-rap-soul into the ensemble. After asking the ATL to represent, the band played “Parasite,” off their new CD, Electric Music. For me, the new song grooved just as long as the previous old songs.
After a brief interlude with a 99X deejay promoting himself, Emerson, Jeff, Dan, and Kevin took the stage, to the delight of the thirty or so screaming fourteen-year old girls squeezed in the front row. The band jumped into “Open You Eyes,” which got the adrenaline flowing, and soon, boys and girls were bodysurfing and bouncing from the stage back to the entrance of the park. With Emerson on amplified acoustic guitar, the band followed with more uptempo numbers. When the first chords of “You Wanted More” were played, the girls started screaming.
Tonic’s music is best characterized as very tender and full of emotion. With songs about breaking up or getting together, lives that are damaged and miserable, it’s no wonder they attract a lot of women. Even though Jeff Russo swings a Les Paul, the electric guitar is not central to the music. The band keeps a steady rock beat, and every song could be a radio hit. Their last album was released in 1999, and the biggest hits come off of 1996’s Lemon Parade, but as the band worked towards their closer, “If You Could Only See,” it was easy to see why Tonic still holds the attraction they do.