Tres Mts., the latest Pearl Jam spinoff band, made its public debut at the Showbox Wednesday night with an hourlong set filled with a little bit of blues, a little bit of balladry and a whole lot of rock.
The band — consisting of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, King’s X frontman Dug Pinnick and former Fastbacks drummer Richard Stuverud — managed to turn most of the songs from its lackluster debut record Three Mountains into captivating and engaging material live. Pinnick proved to be a passionate and soulful frontman whose voice easily switched between R&B soulster to full-on rocker while Ament and Stuverud held their own by laying a solid foundation that allowed the songs to soar. But it wasn’t an official member of the band that transformed the songs from average to good. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, who is the band’s touring guitarist, who did the heavy lifting in that department.
McCready breathed new life into songs like the funky “Oh Lord” and his guitar work on “She’s My New Song” would’ve made Stevie Ray Vaughan blush. Like he does with Pearl Jam McCready put his body into his work, thrashing and jumping around while soloing, making his body as fluid as his music and he even saddled up to his buddy Ament while playing at one point. McCready definitely made what could have been a relatively ho-hum debut of a Pearl Jam side project something worth writing home about.
With such a presence on guitar it would be easy for the rest of the band to be overshadowed, and while Ament and Stuverud were pretty much background players throughout the night, Pinnick made for an impressive and versatile vocalist. He turned the the trite ballad “God Told Me,” a song he said is meant to be a jab at the Pope, into something worth listening to and his rocker croon on “Afrosheena” was a refreshing change of pace. The evening wasn’t 100 percent the Mike McCready show but it sure would’ve ended up that way if Pinnick hadn’t held up his end on the vocals front.
While the main set, which was bookended by the band’s two best songs “Holes in the Road” and “My Baby,” was enjoyable due to McCready’s ax and Pinnick’s tremendous voice it was the encore that will likely stick in the memories of those who were there. The band chose three covers to include in the four-song and each played perfectly to the band’s strengths and was executed ridiculously well.
The first cover was Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home A Heartache,” which started off slowly and featured McCready on keys until he got off the bench and unleashed his guitar. It was followed by ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” another song where McCready more or less took over, and the night ended with Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” during which McCready played a solo with his back facing the crowd and his guitar behind his head. If you’re going to have Mike McCready in your band you might as well show him off a little, right?
Unfortunately the show came to a stop right when it felt as if the band was hitting its stride, but I suppose you can only play so many songs when you only have one album to your name. The lack of banter from the band was slightly disappointing too, but that can be forgiven since it was the group’s first public performance. Although it would’ve been nice if McCready or Ament at least addressed the crowd since they were the attractions everyone likely paid to see perform.
Openers My Goodness, a group that has the potential to be major players in the local scene for years to come, ended up being the perfect choice to set the table for Tres Mts. The duo – guitarist/vocalist Joel Schneider and drummer Ethan Jacobsen – delivered a 35-minute set of songs off their highly anticipated debut record due April 19. It was the biggest venue and biggest show to date for the young band and they definitely didn’t disappoint. There’s a lot of buzz behind this blues-influenced two-piece and by the end of their set it was clear why as they won over a few hundred new fans.
Tres Mts. set list
Holes In The Road
Makes Me Feel
God Told Me
In The Middle
She’s My New Song
I Just Wanna Love My Life
In Every Dream Home A Heartache (Roxy Music)
La Grange (ZZ Top)