Material: Formed at Boston College in 2014, this eight-piece collective Juice begins with funk as their base, then swirls into rock and R&B, finally topping everything with a sprinkle of extreme violin and rapping for taste. Lead singer Ben Stevens’ soulful chirping digs its hooks into the listener’s nervous system. While group harmonies deliver memorable choruses that get the audience chanting, it’s their relentless energy that makes them jump.
Musicianship: The mark of any great act is an ability to work in concert with one another, forming a unified whole rather than parcels of separate, competing parts. Juice’s achievement in this area pays high dividends considering the number of musicians. Despite this, they aren’t afraid to highlight individual players and their proficient wares—ripping guitars, booty shaking keyboards and take-no-prisoners violin all get dramatically spotlighted with extensive bridges.
Performance: While mentioning their website, merch table and forthcoming EP, Stevens failed to name-check his brothers in sound. Nor does the group display any evident branding. Yet this matters little as Juice wins over its listeners with musical acumen and sheer bigness. Juice also displays an enticing stage presence, physically grooving with infectious enthusiasm. Rarely does one witness a crowd so ignited over a performance that the floor literally buckles. Disappointingly, the common scourge of improper vocal balance marred the otherwise flawless display.
Summary: With certain acts, it’s obvious they’re destined for higher status. The fanaticism displayed by Juice’s fans proves their trajectory will ultimately place them on far larger stages. Indeed, they’ve already opened for acts like Ludacris and DNCE. And, on top of sold-out shows, they won 2016’s Land The Big Gig competition, which came attached with a $20,000 prize. Although a few minor quibbles dulled their shine, to even mention these correctable elements seems uncharitable. Funk never left; it just has a new name. Drink up.
The Players: Daniel Moss, guitar; Chris Vu, keyboards; Rami El-Abidin, bass; Miles Clyatt, drums; Ben Stevens, lead vocals; Christian Rougeau, violin, vocals; Kamau Burton, acoustic guitar, vocals; Michael Ricciardulli, guitar.
Photo by Apple Kaufmann
Venue: Great Scott
City: Boston, MA