28 February 2008

minimix: Shuffleupagus.5

A bit of the purely random for you on the 29th day of February. It works... kinda.


Download the mix

01 Thanksgiving Waves -- Eef Barzelay: Bitter Honey (2006)
02 I'm The Man Who Loves You -- Jeff Tweedy: Chicago IL 1/9/03
03 Two Times -- The Blakes: The Blakes (2007)
04 Always Together -- The Young Republic: Always Together (2005)
05 "Jupiter" (Andante Cantabile) -- Uri Caine Ensemble: Plays Mozart (2007)
06 Samba Tranquille -- Thievery Corporation: The Mirror Conspiracy (2000)

Previously in minimix:

26 February 2008

Downloads: FBVIII

So, Freaks Ball... my review is this: first beer(s) around 6pm, soundcheck, whiskey, something something, shots of tequila, something something, lots of people I know having fun, something something, spills drink(s) on self, scene(s) involuntarily deleted, hey, I know you!, headbanging good times, whiskey, fuck yeah!, feeling fuzzy around the edges, tequila, fade to black (no money lost), see you next year.

In lieu of anything more descriptive, here are some downloads of SBD's courtesy of JR's foresight:

Bustle Set I
Bustle Set II
Mocean Worker

American Babies to come, hopefully. Let me know if you have any problems with these and I'll repost on my Mediafire.


25 February 2008

Oscar Moment

Shows of the Week


Click here for upcoming shows

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood @ Madison Square Garden
Bill McHenry @ Nublu
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)
Super Furry Animals @ Bowery Ballroom
Gipsy Kings @ Radio City Music Hall
Matt Munisteri @ Banjo Jim's
*Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Antigone Rising @ Joe's Pub (late)

Jim White @ Joe's Pub (early)
Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood @ Madison Square Garden
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
George Clinton @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)

Wayne Krantz @ Tap Bar
Pela (Apollo Sunshine open) @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Big Head Todd & The Monsters @ Bowery Ballroom
Adam Levy et al @ Banjo Jim's
Phospherescent @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band, Flogging Molly @ Fillmore
Trevor Dunn/Shelley Burgon et al @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (benefit)
*Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog @ Knitting Factory

Jim White @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood @ Madison Square Garden
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band, Flogging Molly @ Fillmore
The Disco Biscuits @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
*St. Vincent @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Petra Haden & The Sell Outs @ Knitting Factory
Big Head Todd & The Monsters @ Bowery Ballroom
Akoya Afrobeat @ SOB's
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Bobby Previte Guitar Trio @ The Stone (early)

St. Vincent @ Bowery Ballroom
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Disco Biscuits @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
The Radiators @ BB King's
Lettuce @ Sullivan Hall
*John Zorn's The Dreamers @ St. Ann's Warehouse (Brooklyn)
Smokey's Roundup @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures Octet @ Roulette
Big Sam's Funky Nation/Mocean Worker @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Phosphorescent @ Mercury Lounge
Wolff et al @ Piano's (late night)
Keren Ann, Dean & Britta @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)

*Matt Costa @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
John Zorn's Essential Cinema @ St. Ann's Warehouse (Brooklyn)
The Disco Biscuits @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Dean & Britta, Keren Ann @ Bowery Ballroom
Rory Erickson, Thurston Moore @ Webster Hall
Blind Melon @ Hiro Ballroom
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Lettuce @ Sullivan Hall
Licorice @ Mercury Lounge
Howard Fishman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Melvin Gibbs solo @ The Stone (early)

*Kurt Rosenwinkel Group @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Black Crowes @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Say Hi, Illinois, Meowskers @ Bowery Ballroom
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Rory Erickson @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)

Click here for upcoming shows

14 February 2008

minimix: Be My Guest

Whilst I am on vacation, the minimix must go on with a guest spot from OTW friend and occasional commenter BFrapples. He's put together a nice 6 song set exploring the "Radioheadization" of jazz -- both as source material and as an influencing force on composition and playing. Anyway, take a look. 

(If you're interested in guest DJ'ing here in a future slot, let me know and we'll see what we can wrangle.)

01 Paranoid Android -- Brad Mehldau: Live In Tokyo (2003)
02 Myxomatosis -- Benevento/Russo: Paradise Rock Club, Boston MA 12/2/05
03 Talk Show Host -- Christopher O'Riley: Hold Me To This (2005)
04 Respiration -- Ben Allison: Buzz (2004)
05 Forces -- The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity? (2005)
06 Maiden Voyage -- Robert Glasper: Mood (2004)

minimix: Phishtalgia.3 2/93

Ah, they don't make 'em like they used to. Taste of some Phish from 15 years ago this month. I wrote about 2/4 here. With proper encouragement I may do the others as well when I find the time.


Download the mix

01 Buried Alive -- Roseland Ballroom, NYC 6 Feb 1993
02 Reba -- Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie NY 12 Feb 1993
03 My Friend My Friend -- 6 Feb 1993
04 The Wedge -- PPAC, Providence 4 Feb 93
05 Punch You In the Eye -- 5 Feb 1993
06 Harry Hood -- Providence, 4 Feb 93

Previously in minimix:
Phishtalgia 1

13 February 2008

Mid-Winter Recess

Posting will continue to be light the next couple of weeks, apologies for that. Until then:

  • I was going to do a nice big multi-part Nedstalgia on the rest of my 2/93 Phish experiences, which were pretty darn sweet on both a personal and musical level. I can do them belatedly if there's any enthusiasm for such. I'm thinking of a number and if more than that number of people reply in the affirmative, I'll give it a wing.
  • Freaks Ball kicked butt, if I may so humbly say so. Hopefully I'll have links to download the sets soon. There were many highlights and a couple of lowlights, but that's the way it goes. With all that, the ultimate may have been early in the night before the show even started when I learned that Joe Russo is a Shows of the Week fan. Bless his heart. The lowestlight was after the night was done and I realized that I had lost my sweatshirt. It was brown. Did you see it? That sucks. Thanks to all that came -- any feedback on the evening?
  • OTW is going to Hawaii next week! Kona to be specific. Any recs?
  • Hopefully a mix or two and some more SOTW to come, but don't expect too much content before the end of the month. Never you fret, though, I have lots of sweet looking shows on the horizon to make up for it.

10 February 2008

Shows of the Week

As you were...

Click here for upcoming shows


Martha Mooke & Marco Benevento @ Cutting Room (early)
*Jay Rodriguez @ Blue Note (early/late)
Orchestre De Chambre Miniature @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Matt Munisteri et al @ Banjo Jim's
Oz Noy Trio @ Bitter End

Bon Jovi @ Hammerstein Ballroom (benefit)
*Edmar Castaneda Trio @ Drom
Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Tony Scherr et al @ The Living Room
H-alpha @ The Stone (early)
Glenn Patscha @ Banjo Jim's (late)

Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood @ Madison Square Garden
MGMT, Yeasayer @ Bowery Ballroom
Butch Morris @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early/late)
Etna Caelus @ The Stone (early)
Adam Levy et al @ Banjo Jim's
*Sufjan Stevens et al (Tibet House) @ Carnegie Hall (benefit)
Chris Barron et al @ Cutting Room
Burnt Sugar @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
Billy Martin @ Issue Project Space (Brooklyn)
Ches Smith's Overwriters @ The Stone (late)

St. Valentine's Day:
Matchbox Twenty, Alanis Morisette, Mute Math @ Madison Square Garden
Kevn Kinney @ Lakeside Lounge
Roberta Flack @ BB King's (early/late)
Ryan Montbleau Band @ Sullivan Hll
*Zorn Improv Night @ The Stone (early/late)
Tony Leone et al @ Banjo Jim's
Yeasayer, MGMT @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)

Soulive @ BAM Opera House (Brooklyn)
*Sam Champion, Drug Rug et al @ Bowery Ballroom
Free Form Funky Freqs @ Joe's Pub (late)
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings @ Beacon Theater
Mocean Worker @ Nublu
Zeen Parkins & Janene Higgins @ The Stone (early)
Ryan Montbleau Band @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Wolff @ Piano's (midnight)
John McNeil/Bill McHenry @ Cornelia St. Cafe (early/late)
The Black Hollies @ Magnetic Field (Brooklyn)

*Tony Trischka's Double Banjo Spectacular @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Cyro Baptista/Billy Martin @ Issue Project Space (Brooklyn)
Buckwheat Zydeco @ BB King's (early/late)
Doveman @ The Stone (late)
The Black Hollies @ Club Midway
Rats With Wings @ Magnetic Field (Brooklyn)

Likeness To Lily @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Adam Levy et al @ Rockwood Music Hall (late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
The Black Hollies et al @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
*School of Rock, Children of the Unicorn @ Highline Ballroom

Click here for upcoming shows

07 February 2008

minimix: Weekend Preview... Get the Led Out

In anticipation of the big party this weekend in Brooklyn, here's a jammed up, mostly live, eight-is-enough version of minimix.

Click here to download the mix

01 The Song Remains The Same -- Bustle In Your Hedgerow: Chitown, 31 July 2005
02 No Quarter -- Gov't Mule: NYC, 17 April 2002
03 Over the Hills and Far Away -- Widespread Panic: NOLA Halloween 1998
04 Communication Breakdown -- Wolfmother: Edmonton 25 Feb 2007
05 Ramble On -- Phish: Vernon, NY 12 August 1998
06 Immigrant Song -- The Bad Plus: Unreleased Studio Outtake
07 When The Levee Breaks -- Stanton Moore Trio: Newmarket, NH 6 October 2006
08 Kashmir -- Led Zeppelin: Cleveland 27 April 1977

Previously in minimix:
Weekend Sampler
ACL '07 Preview
Weekend in Preview (7/4/07)
Week In Preview (4/16/07)
Weekend Sampler (1/18/07)

Links of the Week

Let's go short and sweet with some video this Freak week.

  • Very nice montage from the 1/31 Marco show to go with the review:

There are a ton more videos from the residency, go here to start.

See you Saturday.

05 February 2008

Review: Marco Benevento

Sullivan Hall, 31 January 2008

Where to begin, where to begin? Good question. The better question is whether there's anything left to say after this, this and this. Is it even possible? Once I use every superlative in the book, is it possible that all those "-est"'s could be topped? And what kind of words would I use to describe the experience? Is it possible that after 4 nights of sweet, sweet loving, I am actually carrying Marco Benevento's child somewhere inside my body? I actually think I may be, my soul has been impregnated by the music because there is something living inside me that wasn't before. And if that's possible than it's certainly possible that Marco found a way to surpass what seemed insurmountable just a few weeks ago.

The setting once again was Sullivan Hall, The Village NYC. The date was Thursday, January 31st. 5 Thursdays in January this year, the extra one being a throwaway, a prelude to February, but not for Marco. This was the CD release party for "Invisible Baby" and for the occasion it wasn't just a bunch of (awesome) musicians thrown together, it was a band. Three guys who have played together. Played this material together. Well. Quite well. Marco Benevento on piano, etc., Andrew Barr on drums and Reid Mathis on bass guitar. I saw them together back here and it was truly remarkable. But nothing prepared me for Thursday night...

The first set started and immediately the shift from previous nights was seismic. The band was tight. Really fucking tight. Marco was in a really good mood and everyone inside could feel there was something going on from the get-go. They went through three quick originals: Bus Ride, Record Book, The Real Morning Party... and when I say "quick" I mean they delved in and made sweet sweet love to them. The surprise from the start was Barr who was just in the zone on the drums. He paced the entire show from the first note, there was no doubt. Once again, Marco had succeeded in laying so low into the sound that you weren't sure if this was Andrew Barr & Friends or even Mathis & Friends; and by doing so he rose above and presided over everything like a true master of ceremonies. And what a ceremony it was! Marco was particularly amped for "Party" and handed out maracas and cowbells and drumsticks like Santa Claus of the groove. The result was sloppy and giddy and a perfect prelude to what lay in store.

The jamming was top notch throughout the first set with some true segues between many songs. Segues of the "one note from the first song being replaced with one note of the second song one by one by one" variety with each third of the trio locked into where the music was coming from and where it was going. It was beautiful to behold. To tell you the truth it was almost too much and too good... one man with just two ears and one brain was not enough to absorb, digest and form coherent thoughts about what was going on. One yellow brick road would bring me into a field of poppies where I would zone out in some opiated lull and then I would get snapped to attention by some bass sludge from Mathis and follow another path to a resplendent Emerald City of bright, shiny melody. But I couldn't grasp it all at once. Thankfully this was recorded.

Andrew Barr. Andrew Barr. Barr Barr Barr. Did I say it enough? Wow! Maybe it was the Jameson talking, but the words "best performance I've seen by a drummer in a long time" were being bandied about without a tinge of irony -- and this is after Joe Russo did the dirty nasty on my soul a couple weeks ago. It's funny to think about the Stanton Moore/Marc Friedman -as-friends night a few weeks ago. That was damn good, those are damn good musicians. I have nothing but good things to say about it. But watching shit go down on the final night, it was clear that those guys were stand-ins for the real thing. Actors on a stage playing "Andrew Barr" and "Reid Mathis" trying their best to fool the crowd and wondering quite sincerely what their "motivation" was, but never quite nailing it. Mathis/Barr/Benevento... Benvento/Mathis/Barr... write it in any order you want, the music tells the truth. Anyway, after watching all three members of the Slip blow my mind over the course of the month of January, each in their own special way, I have decided that I am a much bigger fan of that band than I've ever given myself credit for.

There were some cool covers in there as well, the Deerhoof song, "Twin Killer" which I am not familiar with, was a perfect change of pace and well-played all around. My Morning Jacket's "Golden" was beautiful stuff. What a great cover. I had visions during that one of the next iteration of "Bustle In Your Hedgerow" which could be a band built around Joe & Marco to play all MMJ tunes. I guess Metzger and Dreiwitz could join in. (calling dibs on this idea, you heard it here first). Would you pay to see that? Yeah, so would I. Also ironic thinking back to the drive to Philly to see My Morning Jacket w/ the Slip and the Duo opening up... Golden was like that entire voyage wrapped up in a single moment. Very cool.

At the set break, Marco announced that they'd made a little video for The Real Morning Party which was cute and catchy and a perfect visual manifestation of my favorite of the new Marco tunes (I believe it made my best songs of 2007 and it hadn't even been released yet, to give you an idea). While watching the video, I joked about how I would listen to it 5 times in a row and at that magic number it would never leave your head. That was a bit of an omen... Anyway, as a set break of the review, check it out here...

Second set. Now here is where it gets tricky as a speaker of the English language. I mean if I say "holy shit!" which I am wont to do, it gives you an idea, but does it capture it? Everything in that first set was A-level. A+ even. Cat's meow. Bee's knees. But it was just a set-up for the second set. When it ended and I wiped the sweat and snot off my face the first words I heard were "best set of the residency." Then a dazed look from a high-on-the-music Marco Benvento: "did you like that?" Guh...

I don't know what words to use to describe the second set. It was omnipresent and omnipotent. It was a epic novel, a brilliant oil painting, and an orchestral masterpiece all rolled into one. Songs were played, a setlist could easily be derived, but that would be mistaking the objects for the art contained within. Mistaking the words themselves for the language being spoken. And what a language it was. Songs begat improvisation which begat new songs that were never songs before which transformed into new songs starting the cycle all over again. The segues from the first set reappeared as something all the more amazing in the second stanza. The way red bleeds into orange into yellow in the rainbow -- that's the way these songs flowed together. The space in between the melodies were as good as anything that's been played all month at Sullivan Hall and the songs themselves -- "best ever" versions every one. All that and you could dance to it. Dance we did.

They started with "Fearless" and it was like BAM! Right there in front of us. I thought I'd seen all that Marco could do to that number and then, once again, I was wrong... just fucking brilliant. That magic that Andrew Barr was spinning from behind the drum kit in the first set had caught like some flesh eating bacteria and devoured the other two guys whole. Now all three of them were making flippy floppy with the groove in equally sick-ass fashion. It all kind of unraveled from there in the best kind of way.

Through it all, they all kept their cool. Marco's playing on the piano was as good as I've seen from him. His hands had minds of their own... mind's that wanted to tear the shit out of those keys. He was in control even when he wasn't. Midway through the set he asked if anyone had just gotten there. I don't think anyone even replied -- mostly out of sheer speechlessness, but still. It was all a ruse, he was going to play it anyway, and we got out (technically) 3rd version of "Real Morning Party." The video synched up on cue with some of the visuals from the video and we were off. No percussive handouts this time, just straight eyes-glazed-over funkin'-it-out. Good and greasy.

Somehow this made it's way into the Carly Simon James Bond "Nobody Does It Better" at which point Brad Barr (who opened quite admirably with his own solo set Thursday night but who can't squeeze in more than a parenthetical in this review, sorry) came out with guitar in hand. Now I can do nothing but babble incoherently. This was multiplication by addition, infinity plus one: damn fucking good music. The final stretch included the Carly Simon and a Mephisto and a She's Not There, but really it was just !>!!>!!!. Throw in a couple *'s and maybe a $#@% for good measure. Each was better than the previous, each was jammed out in a multiplicity of styles (raging rock, rolling reggae, jazzed up juiciness and all that other glorious goo that Marco peddles so fine) each went just far enough to elicit drooling from the Thursday night crowd and then pulled back into something new. If you must know, there was yet another appearance (4th?) by the Real Morning Party in the middle of Mephisto which was sort of a straight-jazz piano reading and the brilliant meta-move of the night. All these tunes did things I didn't know were possible, I felt like a 6 year old walking in on his parents having sex. There was something illicit about the music being made and undeniably fascinating.

Brad Barr was the perfect guy to hop up on stage and was well-prepared with his doo-dads and his pedals and more than one guitar. Most importantly, he was not shy. Just ripped his clothes off and hopped into bed, joining the orgy and showing the pros a few moves they might not have thought to try. Obviously an electric guitar adds a bit of an edge to the music and the other three played counterpoint to this beautifully. The chemistry that Brad shares with his brother plus the amazing music that Brad & Marco had made a couple weeks back all came into play and ensured that when three became four that things got better. Much much better. There was no awkwardness, no period of feeling each other out, it was as if the moment had been scripted from the moment the whole notion of Marco-at-Sullivan-Hall-on-Thursdays-in-January had been hatched. Somehow Mathis became the lost soul in the evening and yet his playing was also brilliant to a low-and-rumbling note. Every once in a while he'd show a flash, a third down back picking up 6 yards when he needed 4 and we'd be "Oh yeah, all that and the bass player ain't too shabby either." The best part of all of that is that unlike the other nights when I'm standing there thinking "this should be a band!" -- this is a band. They've played together several times and will have dates on their docket. I don't know how things could possibly get better, but they probably will. I recommend duct tape around the windows, things could get scary.

By the time they started the set-closing "She's Not There" the house was no longer taking bets. It was well into Friday morning, the crowd (which had hovered a little over half-capacity all night, somewhat surprisingly) was reduced to a tight arch of the indoctrinated five deep from one side of the stage, wrapped around to the other corner. The last whiskey had been guzzled and there was no telling where these four guys would take us. The answer was "everywhere." Egads! If I use "sick" to describe things that are sick, the second set on Thursday was downright epidemic -- full blown sickness of mass proportions, infecting everything in sight within earshot, airborne pathogens of brain-melting sickness.

So, how have I done with a show that left me speechless; that words could do no justice to; that the English language seemed inadequate for? Yes, I agree, terrible. How about you talk to nyctaper and just listen to the damn thing.

Downloads of the Week

Here are a bunch of shows across the spectrum of all that is spongewort. All happened on the same date (February 6th) over the course of recorded music history. This is some hot stuff all around. What magic might happen tomorrow to join them?

[Remember, if you've missed anything, be sure to check out the master download list.]

Enjoy and spread the word:

Jerry Garcia Band
Pacific High Studios, San Francisco, CA
6 February 1972
download: part 1 part 2 part 3

Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Band
Departmental Auditorium, Washington DC
6 February 1982
download: part 1 part 2 (fixed)

Roseland Ballroom, NYC, NY
6 February 1993
download: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

Widespread Panic
Snow King Center, Jackson Hole, WY
6 February 1996
download: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

The Slip
Fire & Water Cafe, Northampton, MA
6 February 1998
download: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

04 February 2008

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago

[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2, #3 #5 ,#6-9, #10, #77 & 78, #79, #80&81, #82-84); Mule; Widespread Panic #1 (& 'ween 97); The Duo; Robert Randolph HORDE 92 (i.e. Phish #4, WSP #1), Freaks Ball III, Galactic NYC 97, Electric Masada 2003]

Now it starts to get good...

[pleased to download 4 February 1993 and listen while you read: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4]

If I were to break the Phish lifetime into distinct "eras" I would break them down thusly:

  1. prehistoric Phish: covering their conception in the dorm rooms of Vermont until essentially they took it upon themselves to "book" the band at the Paradise in Boston in 1990.
  2. a growing phenomenon: from that night in Boston through their New Year's gig in an arena in the same town in 1992. A mostly local entity with some roots starting to form in other exotic places
  3. critical mass: from 2/3/1993 until the Clifford Ball in 1996 -- the band transitioned from theaters to selling out arenas across the country.
  4. big Phish: from the Clifford Ball through the hiatus
  5. a Phish too big -- the great white whale: post-hiatus and doomed from the start.
Now, luckily for me, I was a college student in Boston during the very exciting years in that critical mass era and got to see a fair share of shows, when every night it seemed like history was being made. The first night of the massive "spring" '93 tour was in Maine and I did not make it up there. Pity to know what my life would have been like if I actually had my own car during those years. As it stands, I was able to get to quite a few Phish shows by hitching one ride there and back and then another to the next. I managed just enough to feel like I wasn't missing anything (while of course I was) but with a built in limitation that allowed me to still graduate and not arouse too much pushback from the family. Early in the previous semester I donated blood and got these cool little notebooks which were perfect for keeping setlists. Amazingly, they are still in my possession and still in pretty good condition, so enjoy my transcriptions in the dark in between the boogie.

The second show of that tour was in Providence and my buddy drove me and a couple of our friends to the show at the Performing Arts Center there. Amazing that it was barely 35 days since they'd wrapped up the New Year's show just a few miles up the road but were right back at it, launching a many-months tour that would wrap around the entirety of the United States and end about the same distance north of Boston as we were south.

Now why do I pick this as the breaking point of my Phish eras? There are several reasons that are subtle pick-ups on the playing style, jam directions and setlist choices that mark a severe departure between the fall of 1992 and the winter of 1993. In addition, there was the release of "Rift" a week or two earlier that probably stands to this day as their finest studio release. But really, for me, it was one reason why the new era began in February 15 years ago this week. Plain and simple, it was the grand piano. There was something serious and "next level" about a band who decided to start touring with their own grand piano. It marked a serious commitment to the quality of the music they were making on the stage, a statement that what they were doing in the context of the live show was art at a fundamental level. This was a band that said "yeah, it's a lot of effort to lug that thing around, but we don't feel we can deliver the best product to our fans without it." These same attitudes fleshed out in so many other areas of their shows, a small step for Trey, Jon, Page and Mike, a giant leap for Phish.

The show at the PPAC is one of the more underrated or maybe undiscovered gems of the period. The theater was one of those standard old performance spaces that most municipalities seem to have in one form or another. A combination of ornate detail and neglected wear-and-tear was the perfect setting for Phish to ply their wares. It was one of the first times I remember remarking about how good it sounded: from the first note the mix was clear and crisp and I felt a glorious mix of elements swirling on a direct line from the speaker stacks to my ears... waiting a few rows back on the right side of the orchestra.

The first set was standard fare for the time, marked mostly by the debut of "Sample In A Jar." At setbreak I thought it was a lot more jamming than it turned out to be, the guitar solo seemed to be orders of magnitude longer, but still, decent. I still sometimes think of Sample as a new song. The Antelope also was pretty darn good, but when isn't that the case?
The second set started with a raging Chalkdust and then the second ever live version of "The Wedge." That had been everyone's favorite song when we listened to Rift multiple times through... mostly because we hadn't heard that one yet and it had a nice little groove and a sound that diverged from what we were familiar with. For some reason I didn't think they'd play it live and when they busted it out, we were thrilled and sang along. It was cool to see how they had already reworked a song that was barely available for public consumption for a couple weeks. That was perfectly Phish-like.

The finished that one and the pause was one of those looking back and looking forward. We needed a break to digest the wonderfully tight Page-on-the-piano outro to the Wedge and to catch our breath before the real meat of the show got going. They busted into Mike's Song and sheeah! The jam was dirty and the smoke, oh that smoke... filled the theater so that we were "in the cloud" like we were being transported to a different world and the closer to the stage, the deeper into the smoke and the further you went. There was a smell to that smoke that still hits me with a Pavlovian reactions when I get a whiff of it elsewhere... Mmmm Mike's Song. The previous version was on New Year's and had leapfrogged over Hydrogen with a sick Auld Lang Syne peanut butter stick into Weekapaug. I had considered that to be a special thing for NYE and that they'd be back into their normal Mike's>Hydrogen>Groove predictability, but that night in Providence they took things further in the opposite direction. As the smoke machines quit streaming out the clouds of mist, the band got all nice and quiet and almost I Am Hydrogen-like, but instead it was "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday." Holy shit! That was a surprise and a pleasant one at that. Trey and Page delicately sashayed around the melody, the composition and the playing merging into one powerful performance. Then a bopping Avenu Malkenu and back into the Man Who Stepped for a meaty sandwich filler. I remember thinking that entire interlude how they were totally going to wind back down into Weekapaug afterwards and that's exactly what they did. Wild, wild stuff.

Funny side story about that Weekapaug: there was a dude that lived on my hallway freshman year who loved Ween and was always trying to play them for me. I was as closed-minded as any self-respecting Phish head would be and the shit he was playing for me was kinda craptastic taboot, so it didn't take and probably soured me on Ween completely to this day. Still, nice guy. So, anyhoo, a few days after the show, he came up to me and asked if I had been at the Phish show in Providence, to which I replied in the affirmative. He told me that he had read on the internet ("internet is for gleeping geeks" is what I was probably thinking at that moment) that Phish had covered Ween at that show. "No way, end of story" was my reply -- this also soured me on the net for at least 2 more years. He even had a specific song that they had played and played it for me and I was quite certain they did not play "Push Th' Little Daisies" ("what a stupid song"). So, long story short, I spent many, many years trying to find a recording of this show (for reasons about to be explained) and finally got my hands on one about 5 years ago. And when I was listening to it, what should I hear Trey launch into in the midst of that colossal sandwich-ending Weekapaug Groove? None other than Ween's "Push Th' Little Daisies." So, to you, Ted, Class of 1996, I apologize. You were right about almost everything.

When we got back into the car after the show, my buddy saying "well, now I guess we have to start labeling Hydrogen on our tapes" which was exactly what I had been thinking about that theretofore redundant exercise. Like the grand piano and the reworking of the Wedge, the rules of Phish had once again changed.... they were exciting times.
I could go on, but in the end it all comes down to Harry Hood. This was a good show, very indicative of the era in which it was played -- tight, all-band jamming, bright, shiny guitar licks and plenty of adventure on the grand piano. But what makes it a great show was the Harry Hood. Simply put, it is my favorite version of this song. The jam started off innocently, with Trey teasing the previously-played Lengthwise to get the ball rolling. But then it grew and grew and the band coalesced around the amazing notes coming out of the Languedoc and I was entranced. Literally. My mind just kind of went numb and hyperaware all at once, the notes synethstesically playing with my nerve endings turning into colors and sensations on the surface of my skin. And all the while I could not stop moving, my knees and shins banging helplessly into the seat in front of me. There were so many moments along the way when I'd see Phish and they'd so something and I'd be left dumbstruck -- "I knew they could do a lot of things, but I didn't know they could do that!" It was never as good as the first time and this was the first time I realized that the band could break me down completely. I was so overtaken with the music being made in the final stretch of the Harry Hood that night that I literally started to cry. Tears of joy, but honest-to-goodness tears formed in my eyes that night 15 years ago. I don't know that anything else has musically made me feel that way before or since and so I hold it dear. It's worth the download for that, but here's the Harry Hood standalone for those who want to hear it. Maybe it stands the test of time, maybe it doesn't, but it's mine.

Anyway, [dries eyes] I caught the next two nights as well and will try to drop a reasonable-length note about those in the next day or two. I'm also putting out an APB on 2/5/93 and 2/12/93 -- if you have copies or know someone that does, please, please get in touch.

For now: download the 2/4/93 show and get ready for a lot more Nedstalgia.

03 February 2008

Shows of the Week

At long last, Freak Week is upon us... see you on Saturday, save your energy.


Click here for upcoming shows


*OK Go, Joan As Police Women et al @ Bowery Ballroom
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)

Super Mardi Tuesday Gras:
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Teddy Thompson, Jim Lauderdale @ The Apple Store
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub et al @ Sullivan Hall
Tony Scherr et al @ Living Room

J. Kaukonen, L. Campbell, J. Lauderdale, Ollabelle et al @ Merkin Concert Hall
*Cat Power @ Terminal 5
Sheryl Crow @ Fillmore
Mike Borgia, DJ Logic @ Tap Bar
Adam Levy et al @ Banjo Jim's
Sun Ra Arkestra @ Iridium (early/late)
Francisco Mela & Friends @ Blue Note (early/late)
Butch Morris @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Tracy Bonham et al @ Living Room
Chris Barron et al @ Bitter End

*Sheryl Crow @ Fillmore
Nada Surf @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Francisco Mela w/ J. Moran, J. Scofield @ Blue Note (early/late)
Kelly Jo & The PREverts @ Alphabet Lounge
Chris Barron @ PS 166
Mike Clark @ Lucille's

Nada Surf (Illinois opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
*Eric Lindell @ Sullivan Hall
Sylvie Courvvoisier/Mark Feldman @ The Stone (early)
La Laque et al @ Mercury Lounge
Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Marc O'Connor @ Rubin Museum of Art
Kevn Kinney et al @ Banjo Jim's
Bob Reynolds Group @ 55 Bar (late)
Uri Caine et al @ Zankel Hall
Fountains of Wayne @ Highline Ballroom
A.K.A.C.O.D. et al @ Club Midway
BuzzUniverse, Licorice @ Ace of Clubs
Francisco Mela w/ J. Scofield @ Blue Note (early/late)
Queensyrche @ Nokia Theater
Siouxsie Sioux @ Fillmore
Foghat @ Blender Theater

**Freak's Ball VIII: Bustle In Your Hedgerow, Mocean Worker, American Babies @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)

*Steven Bernstein's Diaspora Suite @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Francisco Mela w/ M. Turner @ Blue Note (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Nomo @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows