Portland was insanely psyched about Trey playing the small capacity Crystal Ballroom a couple weeks back – so psyched in fact that the majority of them neglected to pay attention to the concert. So yeah, it’s time again for my usual West Coast Phish oriented indoor gig review – shut the fuck up people. Read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music. And just as a clue as to how loud the crowd was in the back, here’s video of the “Black Dog” encore, which believe it or not featured the least amount of audience murmurs all night.
Sure, last night’s Dr. Dog and Dawes show was promoted as a “co-headlining” bill with both bands playing solid 90 minute sets – but whoever thought putting Dr. Dog on first made a bad choice. Quite simply put, they’re one of the most exciting bands to ever see live, bouncing around in a way that makes me envision their calf muscles as boulders. With a non-talkative Sunday night crowd, the band sounded amazing in the sometimes muffled Crystal, and played a take-no-prisoners set of Dog classics – full of nothing but bumpers that almost seemed like the band wanted to prove who the real headliner was. When Dawes emerged, they sounded great, but they just don’t have the songs or the power to match the Dog’s set. The crowd would enthusiastically cheer after each song, but the level of movement in the audience became next to nothing, and after a half hour a good chunk of the crowd started to head to the door. I would have felt bad for Dawes, but I was still hyped up over the “opener’s” set. Here’s the list…
1) Heavy Light
3) The Breeze
4) Hang On
5) Do the Trick
7) That Old Black Hole
9) Shadow People
10) Heart it Races
11) Jackie Wants a Black Eye
12) The Ark
13) The Way the Lazy Do
14) These Days
15) The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
“Trying to keep up with all the rotating members of Snarky Puppy is a lot like trying to keep up with all the new flavors of Pringles — there’s too many to keep track of, and no matter what variety you get you’re guaranteed to have a rumble in your ass.”
“Justin Stanton would flip between the keys and the trumpet like a stoner jumps between nachos and a Snickers bar — bringing a unique flavor to each but acting like either one was the defining piece of his existence.”
Read the full review HERE at State of Mind Music, and definitely jump on seeing these cats the first chance you get. Here’s footage of them a week prior at the BK Bowl.
Call it whatever you will, but the greatest thing about living in what is currently the hipster-mecca of the world is the downright flood of music that comes through this town. Portland is big enough to get all the major acts, small enough to get all the new acts, and cool enough that every band in the country wants to stop through on their runs out West. As any on-the-beat PDXer will tell you, the greatest thing about living 3 hours away from the Sasquatch Music Festival is that every band there will play a much longer, more intimate, and better show in Portland within the same week as the festy. More details to come soon, but in just over a week’s time I saw the greatest up-and-coming band on the scene – Snarky Puppy, the greatest jam-shred legend of our modern age – Trey Anastasio, the greatest living legends of jazz and funk – Medeski, Martin, & Wood, – and the greatest… well, just the fuckin’ greatest – Prince. And Prince was in the largest venue of all 4 bands with a capacity of 1300. If those 4 acts were listed together on any festival lineup this Summer, shit would be popping the hell off. And oh yeah, this week we’ve got Local Natives, Marnie Stern, Dr. Dog, and Dawes. It’s hard to friggin’ keep up. And oh yeah, after I stood 20 feet away from “Purple Rain” last night I walked directly across the street to the greatest Barcade of all time and posted high scores on Mrs. Pac-Man, Burgertime, Dr. Mario, Frogger, and Rampage. Yeah, it was a good night. So sure, nobody has any clue how to drive an automobile out here, and generally the entire citizenry are the most passive-aggressive bastards you’ve ever met, but for an East Coast music nerd like myself Portland certainly has its perks.
There aren’t many places these days where a guy can rock his 1991 Damn Yankees tour t-shirt and not raise a few eyebrows, but a Bob Seger show is right at the top of the list. And no, I’m not talking about some hipster ironically sporting a thrift-shop find – I’m talking about a bro proudly showing his affection for the Nuge. Such a sight was simply another part of the landscape for the Silver Bullet Band in Portland last Saturday night, and just one of the many reasons I couldn’t wipe an ecstatic grin off my face for two days straight. I’ve seen a lot of natural born entertainers over the years, but Seger may have taken the cake. The man is unabashedly overjoyed with life, and to not fall under his spell while seeing him on the stage is a feat no mortal man can achieve. Remember that uncle who used to sneak you beers at the family reunion when you were a teenager? That’s Seger. You know the one dude in the pack of Harley-riders who clearly doesn’t beat his wife? That’s Seger. Ever have one of those bosses that give you the day off without asking because he knows you went to see The Allman Brothers the night before? That’s Seger. He is the epitome of the stand-up working man, and he also knows how to rock out harder than most fellas a third his age.
Unfortunately, my late arrival meant I missed all of Joe Walsh’s opening set, but it did mean I walked in just as the lights went down. I grabbed a quick beer and headed to my seat where I was predominantly surrounded by aging women with faded rose tattoos on their necks – yeah, this was gonna be a good night. Now I’ve thrown my fair share of triumphant fists in the air, but it was hard to keep up with this crowd. Nobody in the room however, could even compete with Seger’s steady assault on the air above his head. One hand on the microphone, and the rest of his knuckles pointed at the sky – that is the man’s casual stance. If he wasn’t in that formation, then he was running around the stage beaming his shiny fake teeth like they were a war medal. Oh, and pointing. Sweet Jesus does the man know how to point. Backup singers got a showcase line? They’re getting pointed at. Guitar solo? That’s a pointing. Alto Reed taking his legendary sax solo in “Old Time Rock and Roll?” You better believe he’s getting pointed at. But the band is having the time of their lives as well – how could they not? They’ve got these songs on lock, and as a whole the entire Silver Bullet organization was straight up killing it. You’re not going to find a tighter rock pocket than the one that forms when the drummer from Grand Funk Railroad is on stage. To quote Homer Simpson: “The competent drum-work of Don Brewer? Oh, man!”
And the hits? Well, they just kept coming. I had almost forgot what an amazing combo “Travelin’ Man” into “Beautiful Loser” is, but the woman in front of me doing her best Stevie Nicks impersonation as she sang along assured me that I’ll remember forever. A couple new tunes fit into the rotation seamlessly, with lyrics about being on the road and all the other Seger cornerstone images you’d expect. An unexpected cover of “California Stars” by Wilco via Woodie Guthrie was perfectly Segerized and held up great amongst a sea of heavier rockers. Even “Like a Rock,” a solid decade after its run as the theme song for Chevy trucks came off as the solid ballad of its original intent. The only tune I wanted to hear that he didn’t play was “Shakedown,” which 25 years later apparently still can’t be separated from its life at the tune from Beverly Hills Cop 2.
By the time “Katmandu” came exploding out to close the show, the 67 year-old had been playing for a solid 110 minutes straight. He’d take a short breather before coming out for the combo encore of “Against the Wind” and “Hollywood Nights” – both as epic as you could possibly expect. But wait… no “Night Moves?” Oh no… the house lights are still off… boom second encore! “Night Moves” and then “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” to bring it all home. This is what a good ole’ fashioned rock concert is truly supposed to be, and despite a few changes in the set-list, I doubt you could distinguish much from this night and one of his shows from 40 years ago. Some people just have the right formula from the start.
You know those moments in life when you’ve got to pee so fucking bad, but whatever you’re doing at the time is so massively epic that you just unnaturally push through? And then you just remind yourself, “OK, I’m not going to remember the urinary implosion part of this memory.” Well, this Sexmob show almost reached that point. It actually came to a close just at the moment when I was like,” OK, I might have to make a move here.” It would have been tough too – because it was a sit-down show in a really small theater and I was sitting dead center - not only would the entire row need to stand up for me to exit but the band would have totally watched me go as well. Oh well…anyway… Steven Bernstein and his slide-trumpet have led Sexmob on some unique voyages over the years, but this performance of songs all from Fellini movies was some next-level shit. I’ve never nodded my head so fiercely to such quiet music, and then sat so still for such raging music – it was a twisted world of dichotomous magic. Read the full review HERE at State of Mind Music, and here’s a tidbit…
…You want to talk about getting taken for a ride? This was easily one of the most intense 75 minutes of my music listening history. Be it Kenny Wollesen’s sexual escapade with his drum kit‚ or Briggan Krauss’ harmonic exploration of his muted saxophone‚ this was four unstoppable talents breathing as one. But not only pulsing with one another‚ but with the room and the crowd. Every murmured grunt from the room was taken in by the band and reverted into acknowledged echoes — pure mutual absorption and true artistic foreplay at the peak of fruition. I entered that room thinking of Sexmob as the guys that do cool novelty covers. I left knowing them as a unified link to the divine…
The last time I saw Hot Tuna was play was July 4, 1997, when they were part of the Further Festival and it came to Riverside Amusement Park in Agawam, Massachusetts. I don’t remember much from that day except that Ratdog kind of sucked, that The Black Crowes played the hugest “Remedy” of all time, and that I stood 5 feet from the stage for Hot Tuna’s set. I also recall them playing “I Know You Rider” which was preceded by Jorma saying that one of his friends told him he’d pay him 5 bucks if he mentioned Jerry Garcia‘s name before the song. Anyway, there aren’t too many bands I’ve ever taken a 16 break from in-between shows, but I just always seemed to be out of town every time they came to Vermont. So seeing them in a sold-out theater in Portland amid the strongest contingent of twilight hippies I’ve ever been immersed in, was really quite a beautiful experience. Here’s an excerpt from the review and read the whole thing over at State Of Mind.
…The sold-out crowd in Portland was mainly composed of folks who have most likely been seeing Jorma play in one manner or another since long before this writer was even born. The faded tie-dyes that were omnipresent throughout the room seemed to hold a metaphorical essence within them. Much like the ashen garb‚ the music represented the settling echoes of raucous times gone past. Like an acid trip of perfection‚ the psychedelic eruptions of Jefferson Airplane have peaked and settled into the soothing moments of delicate synergy that Kauokenen and Casady emit from the stage. Each song was prefaced by some fabled tale of enlightenment or moment of self-mockery‚ and it seemed clear that these guys have long existed on the true artistic mantra of taking your music seriously‚ but not taking yourself seriously at all…
When writing this review I thought of all the times I’ve seen Marco perform over the years – I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s somewhere around 15. And this gig the other night was actually the first time that I thought things fell a little flat. So that’s a pretty good batting average the dude’s got in my book. No, it wasn’t just because I hate the new songs that have vocals so much, but that definitely didn’t help things out. Here’s an excerpt of the review below, and read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music.
“…Now don’t get me wrong, the performance was spectacular. There’s a reason the digital pages of S.O.M. are fully stuck together with ecstatic residue of Marco pop-offs — the mop-topped ivory pounder is a wizard on the keys. His technical skills have only grown tighter over the years, and when he dug into his solos this night he cast a still awe upon the crowd as they basked in his expressionist technique. That being said, his current leap into the deep end of electro-indie-dance-pop doesn’t seem to as of yet found a way to fully acclimate to the other half of his persona. When he would dig into his darker, jazz-askew cuts, his Brubeck-like attack of the solos would breathe an essence of creepy fluidity — like you could sense David Lynch pointing a camera over your shoulder, onto his piano, and then spiraling back into the center of your eye. But when the dance-party songs break in, it suddenly feels like all the lights are turned on and any sense of mystery is lost. I feel his performance could be untouchable if he could figure out how to transcend that boundary between his two selves…”
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Not being the hugest Ben Folds fan put me in quite the sub-class the other night at the Roseland, but I had a great fucking time. I wasn’t even really all that familiar with the tune “Army,” let alone the fact the entire crowd does a two-part sing-along to it. I mean, that’s how you know you got an intelligent crowd – when they’re able to sing harmonies with one another on cue. There’s a clip below from the Capitol Theater in port Chester where they nail it pretty well. Here’s an excerpt from my review and you can read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music.
Let’s see… how many posts can I have about Built to Spill in one week’s time… not enough, that’s how much. But everyone loves a formalized concert review – it gives them intelligent shit to argue about at bars with strangers. Bands I love are always my hardest to review however, because I’m usually trying to hide my massive fan-boy boner. But here’s the first half of my review on last week’s Built to Spill show in Portland. Read the full thing HERE.