Friday, December 31, 2010

Phish Thursday 30 December 2010 @ Madison Square Garden

Last night began with a feeling of foreboding as the stereo system buzzed, popped, and crackled ten minutes before the band went on stage.  With luck on our side, however, the set began without trouble.  In fact, it wasn't until Camel Walk that there was a problem... but that's a story for later.
Things were kicked off with a nice bouncy Cities - appropriate for the fact that we were in the Big Apple!  The Chalkdust Torture that followed brimmed with energy, as did Gumbo.  I always love it when Page takes that sweet solo towards the end, lending an authentic ragtime feel to the music.  I have a suspicion that the boys were warming up their Creole chops for the dose of Little Feat that they delivered later in the set.
It was during Camel Walk that things got interesting. The sound fizzed out for maybe a minute at the end of the jam leading into the chorus.  Trey and Mike looked at each other and kept on going, despite the fact that only those within a thirty-foot radius could hear them well.

But you know how people always tend to come together in the worst of times?  This was one of them.  When the time came for the end chorus, the band was joined with a resounding "Camel walk!" from the crowd.  Phamily phorever?  I think so.
While not my favorite Trey song (Mr. Completely, anyone?), Driver cooled things down with some soft bouncy sound after a meaty Maze.  A notable Bathtub Gin followed (made so mostly by Page's excellent intro); the jam picked up intensity as time passed, leaving us with enough to get really excited for Fat Man in the Bathtub.  I mean, really excited.

I'm so glad I brushed up on my Little Feat this fall in preparation for hearing the Halloween show.  Not only did I realize that I actually really like their music (even though I've seen them live three times and they never grab me), I also realized that I really like it when Phish does their stuff.  I mean, really like it.

After a hot Golgi Apparatus came a Character Zero that couldn't be beat.  Although I genuinely like the song, I think there's not much to it - rather, not as much to it as some of their other tunes (read: YEM, Tweezer, Ghost).  I found myself lost in the jam just as much as anything else - and that's always a good thing.
A transcendental Tweezer kicked off the second set.  This morning I was surprised to see on LivePhish that it was almost nineteen minutes long - it should have been longer!  The jam crept to a really interesting and different place, fueled by some offbeat rhythmic stuff that morphed the sound.

Tweezer also means the promise of a Reprise, which always makes me excited.

My Friend My Friend was short and sweet; everything was on, made apparent by the agile segue into Axilla I.  I really dig some of the darker Phish tunes (Carini, Guyute, Ester), and MFMF is one of them.
Fluffhead came next, and while executed well in every way, I seemed to fade during the tune.  I used to get really excited when they played it, but I suppose all the sharply calibrated orchestration gets old after a while.

And then came The Funk.  The band began with a sweet Boogie on Reggae Woman which riled up the crowd... in a good way.  During the jam, Trey laid a non-diatonic chord on top of everything else, and the rest of the band slowly adjusted their way around it.  It's always cool to see how they can react to each other's moves.

After a slow segue into 2001 (which, apparently, was originally called Also Sprach Zarathustra; I guess 2001 is easier to pronounce.  But I digress...), things got funky.  Mike was jamming on those basslines and Page ever-so-gently rocked the organ.
Suzy Greenberg brought the rock and roll kind of energy back to the night which very nicely transformed into a steaming Antelope.  Hungry, anyone?

Tweezer Reprise was a stellar way to end the night by bringing back the memory of that even more stellar Tweezer that I had enjoyed so thoroughly earlier.

Night one of my New Year's run is over.  Next up?  Instead of ringing in 2011, I'll be stepping back in time tonight to 1976 to hear the Grateful Dead do Cow Palace, courtesy of Dark Star Orchestra.  1/1/11 will bring me back to MSG for another night of Phish - the only way to start the new year off right!

Don't let the security guard take your sandwich,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The McLovins @ FTC in Fairfield, CT on 18 December 2010

Finals? Finished.  Home? Here.  And the music? Marvelous.  Is there a better way to kick off the holidays than some groovin' jams?  I think not.
And boy, did they deliver.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: Saturday night was the best McLovins show I've seen (and I've seen quite a few, my friends).  It seems like every time I go to a show, the band is always so much tighter, so much on it than what I can recall.
The group began with a dose of Tokyo Tea, with a slightly theatrical twist - each member entered individually and joined in the groove.

But it was a funked-out version of Shakedown Street that really got things going.  People were up and dancing and there were glowsticks all around!  I love the way they cover the Grateful Dead tune - it's fresh but retains the essence of the original.

My other favorite moment from the first set was a Phish cover: Meatstick Reprise.  Dear reader, if you are not familiar with such a song, please do your homework.  A new song called Mon Ami finished the set.
Tetop, another new tune, began the second set.  I like this song a lot because there are a lot of different elements to it.  The choruses are totally catchy, but there's a sort of space in the interim that's kinda cool and different.
Check it out:
To me, Virtual Circle was the highlight of the show.  The song just really gets me: I love its fast-paced, almost frenzied feel.  This time, it tore the place down.  Halfway through the guitar tones morphed into something much more metally, which had the crowd doing a jazzed-up robot... myself included.
Cohesive, the McLovins' newest official single, came next.  The only version that I knew was the studio recording with Tom Marshall and Anthony Krizan, so I was hearing it live for the first time. 

Deep Monster Trance was on fire, and could I get through Bedheadded Crystal Bugger without a sweat?  Nope.

The boys did Little Wing as the encore; a sweet ending to a very sweet night.

I was glad to see that there were lots of high school-age kids in the crowd - I would love to see these guys totally infiltrate the masses of youth.

Happy (Almost) New Year's!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Grateful Anthem

Check out this video of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, & Jeff Pehrson covering the national anthem this past summer; sure is something beautiful.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Deck the Halls with Pomplamoose

With work piling up and the mercury falling at an alarming pace, it seems like a good time to get into the Christmas mood.  You may know how much I love holiday tunes, so here's a new one I'd like to add to my list of favorites.  Pomplamoose is a really cool indie duo that makes videosongs, a medium in which you must see everything you hear.

This winter, I'm rocking out to this updated version of Deck the Halls... hey, is that PCP in my eggnog?

Submarines? Spaceships? Aeroplanes?

Friday, December 3, 2010

I know what I'm doing on December 18th...

Do you?  The McLovins will be playing the Fairfield Theater Company in Fairfield, CT.

You can meet the band (and yours truly!) after the show.

I've never seen a promotion video for a specific show before, but I totally love it!  Check out snippets of the McL's at their finest.

Just steppin' along with those hum drum blues...