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North Mississippi Allstars
There are many phrases more terrifying than "jam band," but as the night, and the guitar solos, wore on at the North Mississippi Allstars' show at the State Theatre Friday, it became increasingly difficult to remember what those phrases are.
To be sure, the Allstars are the real thing, a swampy Southern blues-rock trio with five pretty-good-to-not-bad-at-all studio albums (including the strong new "Hernando") and a reputation for tearing up stages. Comprising brothers Luther (vocals, guitar) and Cody (drums, guitar, vocals) Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Chris Chew, the band delivers a broad definition of Southern rock that includes even elements of hip-hop. "Shake," the ZZ Top-styled electro-boogie that opened the show, promised an evening of tight, sweaty riffage, a groove that sustained itself through the crunchy funk of "Teasin' Brown," and Led Zeperiffic "Solider."
Around the one-hour mark, however, Cody Dickinson let loose with a drum solo -- a ritual that should have died with John Bonham -- and alas, the spell began to wane. (His hair acquired a distinct windblown effect around this time, as if he were a solitary warrior wandering a desolate plain, or else as if there were a little fan hidden in his drum kit.) Opener Alvin Youngblood Hart joined the band for an extended midshow set that included "In My Time of Dying" and Solomon Burke's incorruptible "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," but couldn't stanch the energy drain. The Chuck Berry-esque Allstars original "Blow Out" was notable for its brevity and punch, calling out the band's latter-show penchant for tripping the light fantastic with a space jam on every . . . single . . . number. This strategy certainly did lend the 2 1/2 -hour gig a sense of gathering, cosmic eternity, and not in a good way.
-- Chris Klimek