Gov’t Mule and Donavon Frankenreiter
At the Arlington Theatre, Sunday, October 8.
Reviewed by Ethan Stewart
Considering the quality of music that was served up, there were far too few people at the Gov’t Mule show on Sunday night. But those who made it out for the quasi-holiday night were treated to a brand of rock music reminiscent of the late 1960s and ’70s, when the guitar was king and the people dancing in the aisles were mere pupils to the power of rock.
A former professional surfer, show opener Donavon Frankenreiter has made a name for himself as a guardian of soul in the surfing community. With his long, stringy hair, forearm tattoos, bell bottoms, and penchant for guitar solos, he seems to be staking his claim as a steward of classic rock as well. After releasing a self-titled debut album on friend Jack Johnson’s record label, Frankenreiter has left behind the decidedly folk-pop blend and has returned to soulful, jammed-out rock music with his new album, Move By Yourself. Sunday night’s show was a celebration of Frankenreiter’s reinvention and those who showed up early for the Mule show lucked out.
But the majority of the mullets, ponytails, red-eyed groovers, and rear-end shakers in attendance had come for the Mule. A side project of Allman Brothers slide guitarist Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule has become a beast of its own in recent years among jam band devotees. With a distinct sound perhaps best described as Southern trance rock, the Mule is comprised of Haynes — an absolute sorcerer on the axe — drummer Matt Abts, bassist Andy Hess, and organist Danny Louis.
The band was at its best midway through the second set when — downshifting out of a power blues riff — Haynes pushed a pedal and the boys slid into a dirty medley of Bob Marley songs. But before the vibe got too far into the ozone, Haynes flicked the crowd the finger, mashed his foot down on the pedal yet again, and instantly was back at the headbangers’ ball. When the smoke cleared, nearly three hours had passed and the crowd dispersed, happily baptized at the altar of rock.