Live Review: Chaco at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA

Material: Named after one of their dogs, this funky, flashy, fearsome foursome from Cambridge, Somerville and Boston, MA joined forces in November of 2016 with the express mission of ramming a boogie up your butt. Heavy on groove and never short on vibe, their named influences include jammy luminaries like RHCP, Phish and Grateful Dead.

Musicianship: Make no mistake—Chaco’s members display fearsome skills. Just watching them swap instruments like a game of musical hot potato points to both ability and musical ambition. Their hour-and-a-half set consisting of strictly original compositions further underscores this observation. They shine brightest when guitar and bass hog
the spotlight, but they’re no slouches when
it comes to percussion either. Vocals, although serviceable, fail to rise to the level of extraordinary. Lyrics cover the gamut
of funk tropes, from call-and-response, to sexual desire (“Whoa, I want her!”), to wry humor (“Hey, what’s that funny taste in your momma’s marmalade?”).

Performance: For visual stimulus, the crafty quartet projected kaleidoscopic, psychedelic imagery alongside the visage of theircanine counterpart. A welcome method of presenting the group’s name without artificial verbalization, the cinematic trimming abruptly halted mid-set only to be mercifully restarted between songs. Although their casual patter felt natural, the majority of their mumblings proved difficult to decipher. Strangely, having each player wear a plain, white shirt imbued them with a counter intuitively memorable stage presence. An enthusiastic audience gobbled up every last, heartfelt note.

Summary: Nothing serves up jam like a jam band and Chaco squarely fulfills that implicit promise. Their nimble abilities and butt- stomping riffs are proof of such. Yet despite raw talent Chaco, lacks any particularly distinct element that elevates them above others who occupy the same genus. That said, your pulse has gone missing if you ever find yourself standing still when this party rolls into your neck of the woods. Jump aboard.

Contact: [email protected]

Web: soundcloud.com/chacotheband

Players: Benjamin Goldhaber, lead vocals, guitar, drums; Jack Welch, bass, guitar, vocals; Orry Shamash, drums, guitar, vocals; Phillip Grannan, guitar, drums, bass, vocals