“You probably won’t remember this show, but I saw you live, like it must have been 2007, 2008? At Revolution Hall in Troy. ‘Paris’ was a new song, not on any album yet,” I said to Grace Potter as an icebreaker.
“Oh my God, I remember that show! I love Troy! Was I making out with all the dudes there? Is Troy all gentrified and shit now?,” she responded.
Potter’s enthusiasm and forthcoming nature were contagious, and over the course of half an hour we talked about a lot of shit, from the weather in upstate New York to the musical process and her dream supergroup line-up. None of it was boring.
“I’m just a girl from Vermont who likes to stir shit up.”
Shit-stirring has brought Potter to where she’s at today, touring behind what’s both her strongest and most controversial album to-date, the genre-shifting solo joint Midnight. Gone is a lot of the jammier, roots-rock from her time fronting Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, replaced with an amalgamation of rock, dance and pop akin to what I remember hearing on the radio growing up and didn’t realize I missed.
“I didn’t wanna do the same thing again,” she explained. “I think art and music can hit a rut, so I said ‘I think I’d like to shake it up.'”
With a fan base largely rooted in the jam band culture and touring circuit, eschewing her existing sonic palette for songs like the 1999-era Prince swagger of “Your Girl” wasn’t a change embraced with open arms, or as Potter put it, “Everybody freaked out.”
Oh well. “I just don’t care what people think,” she said. “This album has moments of true reflection and honesty. I’m not 23 and making out with everybody in Troy, NY. I was tapping into parts of me I thought I forgot about.”
At it’s core, Midnight isn’t that far off thematically from her prior work. While tunes like “Alive Tonight” and “Delirious,” with their disco/Rhythm Nation/Some Girls-period Stones are a major departure, songs like “Empty Heart,” “Look What We’ve Become” and “Let You Go” fit seamlessly into her existing canon of music.
And all the songs are killer live, broadening the possibilities of her existing live show even further. “I can go in any direction I want. Our show has only expanded now,” Potter said.
As for Grace Potter the performer, her live performance consistently delivers. But if you catch her on a shitty day, you’re in for a real treat.
“If I have a shitty day, I usually have an incredible show,” she explained. “It’s been an increasingly crazy year and I’ve been more vulnerable and it comes out on stage. When I’m up there, people are seeing the real me in every capacity: tragedy, glory, all of it.
“Those shitty days make for great fucking concerts,” she laughed.
While discussing great concerts and being entertained, I asked her what her dream line-up, comprised of people both living and deceased, for a supergroup would be.
“Oh man! That’s a great fucking question. Shit, you gotta have John Bonham, then Otis Redding, Tina Turner’s back-up singers and I’d wanna sing back-up too because I gotta be a part of this shit too,” Potter enthused.
“Then, King Curtis, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Tommy Dorsey, and a horn section that fucking destroys. Sam Clayton, George Porter on bass, fuck it, I’d want everyone so it’s a big, beautiful mess,” she exclaimed with a laugh.
It was a great line to end our conversation on. Anything less just wouldn’t have made sense.