When most bands hit the road, the primary goal is to play
concerts and, if possible, make a few promotional stops at radio
stations and other media outlets along the way. This is not so for
the Pat McGee Band, who are hyping their upcoming album, Save
Me
, by packing their schedule with radio promos all day, then
settling down with a concert to top off the evening. That’s
exactly what happened on Wednesday evening when Virginia-based pop
rockers got off the tour bus to play the Blind Pig. Their latest
promotional strategy allows them to make stops at such tiny
venues.

Laura Wong
If I put my ear close enough to this wall, I can hear West Germany. (Courtesy of Giant)

“We want to go out and do this college set-up tour for the
record and reconnect.” said Pat McGee, who sings and plays
guitar for the band. “There are a lot of markets that I
really wish we were able to do when the record comes out, but if we
played every college that we’ve been used to playing,
we’d never leave the mid-Atlantic.” The album,
originally slated for February, was pushed back to April, much to
the dismay of the group’s devoted fans.

McGee made it a point to apologize for the album’s delay
at the show, but was not hesitant to show off the new material. The
second song of the night, “Set Me Free,” featured the
kind of melody-driven bass line that is often lacking in
today’s radio tunes. While the song was enjoyable, the
bobbing head ratio in the crowd was low, despite hand gestures and
other such efforts by drummer Chris Williams. There’s no
doubt that the crowd was waiting for some familiar material off of
which to feed. McGee knows that this kind of thing needs to be
addressed. “We have a setlist, but all of the time
we’re like “You know what, this room needs to hear this
song right now.”

It was the opening chords of the slow ballad
“Haven’t Seen for a While” that finally drew the
reaction that the band was looking for. All around the room, mouths
could be seen echoing McGee’s heartfelt lyrics. By now, some
of the bar-hoppers had cleared out, making room for a more intimate
session with the fans. The band loosened up accordingly, taking a
stab at Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” and
occasionally passing shots of Crown Royal to McGee.

There wasn’t time for a set break, but McGee and guitarist
Brian Fechino gave their bandmates a rest as they played a warm
duet that got the crowd clapping in rhythm. There was even a little
bit of extended improvisation that could have surprised the most
devout Phish fan.

Pat McGee and his sextet couldn’t quite rock the pig in
the usual way, probably due to the boatload of unfamiliar material
and the unsettling stress of exam week. Still, their solid brand of
pop rock was an enjoyable way to let off steam before the last
midterms.

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