Euforquestra returned to Fort Collins for a hometown show at the Aggie with friends Roster McCabe and D. Bess. Both Euforquestra and D. Bess have performed at Summer Camp. In FoCo Euforquestra historically has been a solid draw, but the venue never completely filled in on Friday. D. Bess is the former lead singer of Iowa City reggae outfit Public Property. He currently performs as a solo project utilizing loops and his diverse skills as a multi-instrumentalist. Playing a blend of originals and covers, he slowly built up each song one riff at a time. Having seen D. Bess before, I have to say that he as come a long way with his looping skills. His performance lasted just under an hour before he gave up the mic for Minneapolis’ Roster McCabe.
Roster McCabe is an amalgamation of jam. They blend elements of soul and funk with electronic, dance, and rock. The band has been making regular jaunts out to Colorado for years now, and continues to energize audiences throughout the country.
SET I: The Traveler, MMM, Spark A Light, Paper Crowns, Speed, Regulate, Stargazer, Take A Breath
Their one-hour set blasted by rather quickly leaving some fans wanting more. The silky vocals of Alex Steele washed over the crowd, as their consistent rhythm section made up of Jeff Peterson and Scot Muellenberg stayed tight throughout the set. This allowed for some incredible interplay between the guitarists. They ran the gamut alternating between funky break beats and an all out electro dance party. The powerful and progressive “Paper Crowns” acted as the anchor point of the set, but the funky, retro “Stargazer” was the highlight.
After a short intermission Euforquestra took the stage around 11:30 PM. They opened with a nasty version of Herbie Hancock’s “Hang Up Your Hangups.”
SET I: Hang Up Your Hangups, Let’s Dance> Called You, Hopscotch, Road Funk, Solutions, Price Is Right, Obatala> Change Me, The Events of December 11, Instant Coffee, Cause A Reaction, Dr. Standby> Sexx Laws
ENCORE: Yogi’s Day Out
You can download the show at http://archive.org/details/euf2012-10-06.mk41.flac16. Thanks to Eric Wilkens for posting.
Euforquestra is currently undergoing some changes. With the departure of original percussionist Matt Grundstad and bassist Ben Soltau, there has been a shift in the rhythm section. With Grosso moving back over to bass and newcomer Craig Babineau replacing him on kit, they were joined by yet another fresh face, Scott Mast on percussion. With all of the changes you would think that it would have a distinct effect on their sound, however I was amazed at how well they played together. A vocal rise gave way to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which really woke up the crowd and got the night going. The bouncy “Called You” broke down into riff-.y “Hopscotch” which really gave guitarist Mike Tallman a chance to rip it up for the audience. Fan favorite “Road Funk” was a nice addition to the set, with a huge “Solutions” waiting in the wings. The energy-infused “Obatala” into “Change Me” was yet another highlight in this non-stop dance party. This band has the ability to shoot out of the gate like a bunny-crazed greyhound, or step it back into a funky groove that soothes the soul. “December 11” has become another standard from Euforquestra, but the building groove of “Instant Coffee” was a nice change of pace. They ended the set with “Dr. Standby” into Beck’s “Sexx Laws. Euforquestra performed the music of Beck at this year’s Camp Eurforia and have been sneaking his songs into their setlists from time to time ever since. They are doing a Halloween tour featuring Beck’s music at the end of the month as well. They encored the show with Ross Martin’s “Yogi’s Day Out.” This was definitely an eclectic show from Euforquestra with a little bit of everything. They pulled out a few covers and showed that even with some changes in personnel that they will continue to play well and in a manner that fans have come to expect.
Dancin’ In The Streets featured so many Summer Camp bands, that it might has well have been the Denver version of the festival. In actuality SCamp stalwarts Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, as well as classic veterans like Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals all played this fest on the Lawrence St. After three years in absentia, the Dancin’ In The Streets Music Festival made its triumphant return to Denver. It’s no secret that the high cost of putting on the inaugural festival as well as the low turnout cost Jay dearly. It was the impetus for him to letting go of Cervantes and the downsize to Sancho’s and Quixote’s. Over the past few years Quixote’s has become a hub of live music and is the home of the greatest patio in Denver. It is also the new home of the Dancin’ In The Streets.
The entire scope of the event is more doable and smart. Closing off the 2100 block of Lawrence Street with a nicely equipped stage and an Oskar Blues beer truck bookending the block was the perfect setup. Vendors and Live Painters dotted the sidewalks and both the main stage and patio stage of Quixote’s acted as auxiliary performance spaces for the event. Quite simply it all worked and the masses turned out on both days to show their support.
I arrived, as WhiteWater Ramble was finishing up their opening set on the 3rd. I have to say that after Adam Galblum departed from the band I was left with reservations. However the inclusion of Ben Blechman on fiddle certainly impressed me. As a band they’ve always had it in them to be a powerful bluegrass experience, but honestly they have failed to rise to the top over recent years. Their show at Dancin’ In The Streets showed they are ready for a new chapter and to start playing stellar performances across Colorado.
Up next was Grant Farm on the patio. Under the direction of Tyler Grant, Grant Farm has continued to wow audiences on the Front Range and beyond.
One Set: Green Grant, I Come From The Country, (Ain’t No) Nuthin’ Gonna Stop This Train, High Country Ladies, Engineer (w/Andy Griffith Theme), Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun, The Hippie Guitar, Green Thumb, The Times Have Changed, ?, Tell Me, Tell Me, My Old Engine, San Ber’dino
Gerry Gladu posted the show on Archive.
Their attention to songwriting and detail while playing are the reason why they continue to shine. One of the Highlights from their set included “(Ain’t No) Nothing Gonna Stop This Train,” which is more of an affirmation about the band than a song title. There was also a group whistling of the Andy Griffith Theme Song in honor of the actor’s death that was a nice moment for everyone involved.
There was some overlap with Grant Farm and Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band, but around 6 PM I headed out to the main stage. Melvin Seals is a monster on the keys but during the beginning of his set he felt a little more subdued in the mix. Even during “Johnny Too Bad” he just seemed very light, however during “Sugaree” he exploded on the organ. Dave Hebert on guitar had incredibly accurate tone and was an absolute pleasure to watch play. I was also surprised to see Jimmy Tebeau on bass, I’ve know Jimmy since my freshman year of college as a member of Dead cover band The Schwag. He drives the bus, and it was a great chance to get reconnected with him. The show also featured a massive Deal that was enough to get the crowd dancing in the streets.
Next on the docket was California’s Poor Man’s Whiskey. Famous for covering Pink Floyd with their down home version of Dark Side of The Moon, their original music is a classic blend of rock and bluegrass. Musically they are incredibly talented and the vocals of Josh Brough are tinted with a warm vibrancy that is truly inviting. They were a great touch and I caught them for a while before heading back to the Main Stage for Greensky Bluegrass.
Greensky is one of the premiere young bluegrass acts out there. Along the lines of Head For The Hills, these boys from Michigan bring the heat with every performance. A classic string band lineup with all of the bases covered their inclusion in the festival was a big draw for the crowd, which had swelled to around 1600 people by this point. Their show was a bit laid back, but they busted out some great tunes to keep the audience engaged. “Bottle Dry” and “Broke Mountain Breakdown” were a ton of fun. They ended their set with a bluegrass version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
During Greensky’s set I headed into the patio for a bit to see Todd Shaeffer and Friends. The Friends included Railroad Earth’s Andrew Altman on bass and Great American Taxi’s Chris Sheldon on a banjo drum contraption. This was a folk-infused experience that seemed like a toned down version of RRE. Todd is an impeccable guitarist and gentle vocalist, however this show just seemed very low key. The talent on the stage would seem to lend itself to some serious picking, but what we got was a very chill encounter. They played beautifully, but at this point in the evening I was searching for more energy.
That energy came in the form of Big Wu on the main stage inside. The Big Wu was a band that I first saw in 2000 and noticed enormous potential in their playing. They fell off the map for several years but recently they have been coming back to Colorado and playing really well. Their most recent addition of Mark Joseph on guitar has seemed to reinvigorate this band of twenty plus years. This is the band that opened the first Bonnaroo, so to see them back onstage was a personal highlight for me. They opened with a version of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” that felt like an extension of their sound check and also entirely appropriate.
SET I: Could You Be Loved, House of Wu, Gimme A Raise, Oxygen> Midnight Rudy, Bloodhound, Save Our Ship> Time, Ophelia
Corey and Kind Recordings posted the show on Archive at http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/bigwu2012-07-03.mtx.kindrec
This was a classic Big Wu experience with awesome versions of classic tunes “Gimme A Raise” and “Midnight Rudy.” All in all it was great to see them back at it and really sounding tight.
I hopped outside for a bit to see Conspirator, which is a side project of The Disco Biscuits featuring Mark Brownstein and Aaron Magner. From the first notes of their performance to the end almost two hours later they didn’t stop. They are an electronic dance party powerhouse and it was an interesting catch at this diverse festival.
The late night event had arrived as the crowd moved indoors for Octopus Nebula and the main event, Cornmeal.
Cornmeal never fails to deliver in Colorado. They are incredibly fun and are ridiculous pickers. I was stoked that they were integrated in the lineup not once but twice. Their show on the patio was a solid demonstration of what they are capable of. They went all the way to just before 2 AM on the packed porch. They played a beautiful bluegrass set and it was a great way to close out day one of Dancin’ In The Streets.
I woke up slightly hung over and caught an early cab down to day two at Quixote’s. I arrived early as The Congress was getting the nascent crowd ready. It’s always difficult to be one of the first bands on the bill because only the hardcore will be in attendance. Being a huge fan of this rock outfit and Jonathan Meadows’ vocals, I knew I could miss it. These guys have paired down to a three-piece since the last time I saw them live. Highlights from the show included a rousing “Jonah Gideon” and a powerful “Keep Virginia.” It was an excellent start to my second day on Lawrence Street.
All of the early shows were on the Main Stage outside meaning there was some time allotted to change out equipment. It gave the fans plenty of instance to leisurely melt into the day. Greensky Bluegrass was up next, and their set was just better than the night before. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the energy, but Greensky brought the boil on day two. It was a fun and bouncy set that included an epic version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and a ridiculous “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” They really brought the crowd in as literally hundreds filtered in during their set. I was totally impressed with their daytime performance and they left me wanting more. They invited Jay Bianchi and Vince Herman up to do the chicken dance during their set. My surprise was two-fold given the fact that Vince wasn’t on the bill and I had never seen Jay dance on stage before. It really set the mood.
Next up was an extended version of Todd Sheaffer and Friends from what we saw the day before on the patio. Including both Allie Kral and Vince Herman in addition to Chris and Andrew. It didn’t suck. The show began with a duo between Todd and Allie on “Potter’s Field.” It was a stunning beginning to a string show. The rest of the band returned, and Vince drifted on and off the stage. Martin Sexton joined the group for a patriotic rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” It had the same relaxed feel as the day prior, but musically there was a vibrancy that really pleased the crowd.
Grateful Dead Tribute band Shakedown Street took the indoor stage at Quixote’s around 7PM. Their delivery was solid and obviously totally in check with the Dancin’ In The Streets Festival. In fact they played the only rendition of the song from which the name of the event came from. Vince Herman sat in with them on the majority of their set including a wicked version of “Fire on The Mountain.”
I was drawn outside to the patio by the acoustic rumblings of Duck Pond who proved to be the surprise of the entire festival. These guys were full of life and added an energy that I had been searching for throughout the two-day show. They did a mash up of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with “Whiskey Before Breakfast” that was as silly as it was well executed.
Donavan Frankenreiter was on the main stage outside by this point so I headed out to catch a glimpse of his show. The nice thing about the fest was how close and maneuverable it all was. You could litteraly bounce from stage to stage with just a whim and grab a beer on the way. In that regard it was really well setup. Donavon was a Brushfire Records performer who along the lines of Jack Johnson hosts more singalong type shows. He had a rockier edge though and he was certainly enjoyable to see live. He was one of many firsts for me at Dancin’ In The Streets. That again was the nice thing about the festival, lots of great music I was wholly familiar with and few bands I had never seen live to keep me engaged.
I went back inside to catch the end of Duck Pond before venturing back into the street for Martin Sexton. He had a small but dedicated crowd assembled for his set. He had a certain animation about his playing that was half flow of consciousness half utter showmanship. He strummed his guitar briskly and softly playing a wide variety of songs.
Big Wu went on late around 8PM and I stayed to see them for a bit. They opened with “Shoot The Moon.”
SET I: Shoot The Moon, Texas Fireball, Tequila, The Hobo Song, Red Sky, U.S. Blues, Mean Spirits> Shantytown, Dixie Chicken, Southern Energy, The Star Spangled Banner> Rhode Island Red, Kangaroo
Corey posted the set on Archive.
I stayed through “Red Sky” and they sounded great, however with three days of String Cheese Incident looming at Red Rocks, I opted to call it an early night. Sadly I missed Cornmeal and JGB’s repeat performances, but from all reports they killed it.
Dancin’ In The Streets came off without a hitch and although the turnout was less on the 4th of July there were still plenty of people who made it down overall. Fans mingled with artists as they strolled about the grounds. The normally laid back vibe of Quixote’s seemed to permeate the entire show. I’m glad this festival has made its glorious return to Denver. The Bianchi’s deserve to have an event that showcases what they bring to scene. Dancin’ In The Streets did just that.
After witnessing an amazing set at Summer Camp from Banyan featuring Stephen Perkins and Willie Waldman, I was happy to see Mr. Waldman was on his way to Denver. This set was a bit different as it featured four incredible live painters performing with the band. This year Summer Camp invited several artists to paint at the festival and it really adds a bit of spice to the experience. In a way this show was much like a mini-fest in an evening.
The last time live painters Bukaty, Wisdom, Callerman, and Keener were together was as the Kanrocksas Music Festival. This time around they were painting a Free Jazz performance from Willie Waldman Project. WWP is a group that morphs on the regular taking on different members based on locale and availability. This time around the musicians consisted of Willie on trumpet, Brian Jordan on guitar, Cory Kertzie on drums, and Garrett Sayers on bass. A tight group to be sure, but the night also had its fair share of surprises.
I arrived early and met with the band for an interview. I wanted to dive into the collaboration between the live painters and the musicians. I have been seeing Wisdom paint with Waldman for ten years now and the most interesting element of his painting is his reliance on the performance rather than the final product on the canvas. He paints on an illuminated background and when he is done he takes a picture and wipes it away. The impermanence of his art is mind-boggling. Bukaty has a flowing, sometimes frenzied style, however as of late he has opted to really let the music dictate his work. Don Callerman, also known as the “House Painter” at Quixotes ranges from linear impressionism to more direct representational pieces. Laurie Keener does some incredible caricatures of the musicians and is well known for the way she depicts not only the performers but also their instruments.
So with the painters in “Quadraphonic Surround Sound” in place it was tine for the set to get underway. As they started there was only about thirty souls gathered on the newly renovated patio at Quixotes. I have to point out that the light turnout had to do with the fact that the show was poorly promoted. For the caliber of music and level of talent of artists painting it was most definitely a shame that not more people made it out. The lack of attendence did little to detract from the musical performance or the artists. I guess what I’m saying is that the music was absolutely top notch. Willie was not only the bandleader but also his soulful trumpet acted as the glue that tied the act together. Brian Jordan is simply stellar, working with a wide range of musical styles he pulled out all the stops on his guitar throughout the two set show. The dynamism between Sayers and Kertzie built over the course of the entire evening. Kertzie is a monster on the kit and working with someone as accomplished as Garrett really gave him the room to shine. The paint splattered on the canvases as the group flowed in and out of Latin, world, jazz, and rock soundscapes. There are no setlists really, as it is all improvised; however you can listen to the tape from Kind Recordings on Archive.
The second set saw more surprises including a sit-in from Cecil “Pnut” Daniels who stopped by after playing a Thursday set at the Highland Tap. Not only have Wednesdays with Garrett Sayers Trio become incredibly popular, but Thursdays are also hosting live music as well. He plays a Midi Horn that looks almost like a toy saxophone; however the music he created was anything but child’s play. I had heard of Daniels, but this was my first chance seeing him live and it was a great addition to the night’s performance. Another gentleman stepped up to the microphone for a version of “Big Boss Man,” which got the small crowd dancing on the patio. All in all it was a great night of music that made me wish more people had the pleasure of seeing. When Willie has a backing band that is made up of quality musicians he can really rip on the trumpet. I would go so far as to say that the band was as good as any group I’ve seen him with. It was a lot of fun, and I would love to see this exact lineup again and again.
It’s no secret that I dig what Keller Williams does. From his early loop filled days playing small clubs to his latter band based projects performing in front of massive festival crowds one thing remains true, Keller is fun. Summer Camp has always stood behind K-Dub, in fact he has performed in one incarnation or another every year at Summer Camp except two. It’s safe to say that he and the festival itself are pretty intertwined. His most recent endeavor is as a front man for the Travelin’ McCourys. His acoustic chops fit in nicely with the bluegrass powerhouse from Appalachia. Obviously he is not trying to replace Del McCoury, no on could do that, but is simply looking to play with a full string lineup. What better string band could he possible find other than the Travelin’ McCourys? There was no opening group, so Keller and the McCourys took the stage just before 10 PM. They started the night with an entertaining “Mullet Cut,” here if the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Mullet Cut, Gallivanting, The Graveyard Shift, The Hobo Song, Pepper, Road is Rocky, My Mine Never Closes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, American Car, Corn Liquor, All In My Mind, Blame It On The Lonesome Wind, Ain’t About The Money, Sweet Mountain Soul
SET II: My Something Else, Freeker By The Speaker, Heads Will Turn, Friend Of The Devil, Loser, Evangelina, Kidney In A Cooler> Deep Elum Blues> Kidney In A Cooler, Forty Years To Life, Port-o-Potty, I’m A Man, Franklin’s Tower
ENCORE: My Grass Is Blue
Thanks to eman for posting the recording on Archive.
The first set was a mix of the traditional and the innovative. Some great versions of classics like The Old And In The Way’s “Hobo Song” and Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” However they got a little crazy on some covers like the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” and Mike Doughty’s “American Car.” It was certainly an interesting mix with Keller taking the vocal duties much of the time. They passed around solos nicely proving that the McCourys have truly learned from the best. Ronnie McCoury, was simply astonishing but the MVP may have been Jason Carter on fiddle. His playing cut through the whole crowd, giving a real flair and authenticity to the overall sound.
The second set seemed more freeform and centered around classic Keller. Freeker got everyone excited and ignited an all out dance party at the Aggie. I will say that while the show did not appear to be sold out there was definitely a good crowd in the room. We got a much-anticipated Dead interlude with “Friend Of The Devil” and “Loser.” However the real highlight of the show may have been the Kidney In A Cooler into Deep Elum Blues into Kidney In A Cooler. Port-o-Potty got everyone dancing again and the set closing Franklin’s Tower was a nice touch. They encored with a quick My Grass is Blue. The show was great, and it’s nice to see Keller really stretching out with his musical chops. He could easily have stuck with his classic shtick, but he wants to grow and expand his capability on stage. It is apparent that he is always evolving and looking for new ways to entertain. Check out Keller at this year’s Summer Camp, you won’t be disappointed.
Talking Heads tribute group This Must Be The Band made their way out to Colorado for a night of David Byrne inspired fun. Comprised of members of Chicago’s self-proclaimed “Strangefunk” band Savvy, Harmonation, and Impossible Recording Machine; This Must Be The Band is a truly authentic interpretation. While at Summer Camp last year there was a buzz in the air about this group, so I was eager to check them out, not to mention I’m a big Talking Heads fan. Up first was Something Juicy, a local funk rock outfit. They are certainly adequate at what they do, and even tossed the audience a curve ball with a quick but fun version of Ray Parker’s Ghostbusters. Their drummer Chuck Maxwell felt like the “something juicy” that was their namesake. He was in the pocket for their entire set and his flair put him in a league of his own.
The main event of This Must Be The Band took the stage and it was obvious from the beginning that they knew what they were doing. Lead singer and guitarist Charlie Otto definitely had Byrne’s voice dialed in which would prove to be the most compelling facet of the show. He let the crowd know right away that they didn’t have a setlist and that they would be taking requests directly from the audience. A flurry of Psycho Killers, Cities, and Life During Wartimes spewed forth from the enthusiastic mob. They opened with a spot on Cities showing everyone in the room they came to play. The keys of Jim Dinou had a distinctly 80’s twang adding another layer of legitimacy. Additional first set highlights included Slippery People, Take Me To The River, Girlfriend Is Better, and a huge Psycho Killer. The show ended up selling out, and the audience seemed to be electrically charged.
After a quick setbreak This Must Be The Band took the stage again. By the time the kids were in a frenzy. Amy had been waiting for Crosseyed and Painless all night so when I was up for a few more photos I took the time to put in her request. The second set read like a breakdown of the Talking Heads Greatest Hits. Songs like Life During Wartime, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Burning Down The House all blasted from the PA. Finally late in the second set Amy got her Crosseyed, and it absolutely was the peak of the entire show. They nailed it. They encored with a nice Stay Up Late. If you are looking to get a Talking Heads fix while David Byrne tours South America, This Must Be The Band is your best bet. They deliver what they advertise and have a powerful asset in the voice and chops of Charlie Otto. They are definitely a fun night out.
St. Patty’s Day, the drinkingest day of the year was also night two of Galactic’s Paddy Gras run at The Ogden in Denver. Galactic made the trek to Summer Camp in 2007, and are on the bill this year as well. When I saw the recent announcement of their inclusion on the lineup I knew I had to cover them here.
I arrived early and witnessed smeared shamrocks on the faces of the bleary-eyed patrons which acted as the unofficial war paint for the evening, as the sea of green filled in for the sold out show. Shirts adorned with leprechauns, cartoon characters, and various shades of emerald were the informal jersey of the dance battle, which I was immediately confronted with upon entering.
DJ Logic was on stage spinning his brand of jazzy funk-infused house music while kids were break dancing on the floor. Logic is an interesting cat; he is known for sitting in with numerous bands from the Blues Traveler front man John Popper in the Popper Logic Project to Widespread Panic. He gained notoriety at the inaugural Bonnaroo by performing with over a dozen artists and filled the role of the DJ at large in a big way. Logic spun for close to an hour keeping fans happy as the show got underway.
Los Angeles-based band The Aggrolites performing their own brand of self-proclaimed “Dirty Reggae” was next on the bill. Elements of rock and soul find their way into the mix. They rely heavily on crowd reaction and develop an energy that is contagious. The few fans that were familiar with The Aggrolites congregated in the front as the band eased into their set. Jesse Wagner blasted out his vocals on the microphone as the audience joined in the vibe. Riff heavy songs shot out the PA like musical bullets. Having no familiarity with the band, I quickly found myself dancing and chanting along with the group. Normally The Aggrolites find themselves playing alongside bands like 311, Flogging Molly, and Social Distortion, but they were a great way to get the night started. They ended their set with a powerful cover of The Beatles “Come Together”.
After a quick stage change Galactic took their places and opened with a funky “Boban”, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Boban, Total Destruction To Your Mind, Heart of Steel, Break In The Road, Balkan Wedding, Manic Depression, Hey Na Na, Night People, Out In The Street, Bittersweet, Ha Di Ka, Shibuya, Funky Bird, Boe Money, From The Corner To The Block, Crazy Horse Mongoose, How Many More Times
ENCORE: Ash Wednesday Sunrise, Goin Down
The driving drums of Stanton Moore immediately took center stage and didn’t leave the spotlight for the rest of the evening. The man is a beast and he shows his prowess with ever hit of the snare. Rebirth Brass Band’s Corey Henry on trombone was a distinctly awesome addition to Galactic’s performance. The back and forth between Henry and Ben Ellman was thrilling. Corey Glover originally of Living Colour fame, took over vocal duties for the show. It was reminiscent of the Galactic days of yore that saw Theyrl Houseman DeClouet on the mic. The instrumental version of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” was a highlight to be certain. Glover came back to the stage to hit it hard for a run of tunes that made up the meat of the set. The staggering crowd was treated to some classic Galactic funk with “Shibuya” and “Funky Bird” before Moore soloed on the kit for “Boe Money”. They ended the show with a stellar “How Many More Times”. They encored with a sick “Ash Wednesday Sunrise” into “Goin Down”. Galactic brings the heat when they play. They are a funky force to be reckoned with and continue to perform with an energy that is impressive to say the least. They are truly worthy of their place at the top of New Orleans exports and I’m truly looking forward to seeing their set at Summer Camp this year.
For the past few years Summer Camp has fostered an amazing opportunity for local bands. It’s a chance to perform at the festival, called the On The Road tour. It’s like the minor league of Summer Camp literally feeding the fest with fresh talent. It’s a prospect for bands who could get overlooked to make a name for themselves and reach a wider audience at a national event. As Summer Camp continues to grow and cultivate a vibrant musical community they continue to be on the lookout for new bands that could be the next headliner. Last year Trichome took the honor and got to play with moe. bassist Rob Derhak at Summer Camp. Local bands perform in cities across the country and are voted on by concert attendees. The band with the most votes at the end of the night gets a set at Summer Camp. When the On The Road tour wound its way through Fort Collins, I headed down to Hodi’s to catch the show and cast my vote.
On the bill were Sun Squabi, Trichome, and The Magic Beans. Up first was Boulder electro-fusion group Sun Squabi. They were a mixture of organic playing and pre-produced electronic tracks, very much in the same vein as bands like Signal Path. They combined the electronic and the rock seamlessly, but I would say that their instrumentation fell into a minimalist realm at times relying heavily on their Macintosh computers to fill out their sound. Given their youth I was impressed with their passion and ability to mix, but the combination of their opening slot with the lack of early arrivers doomed them from the start.
Next up was the aforementioned Summer Camp alums Trichome. Brining a full horn section as well a large group of local followers, they set themselves up for a good show. They opened with a funky Hands Up, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Hands Up, Down and Dirty, 1999, Sway, Strawberry
Trichome blends elements of funk, rock, jazz, and electronic as they whip their crowd into a frenzy of fun. Having seen them several times since Summer Camp last year, one thing I can say for sure is that they bring the energy every time they play. They tossed in a special version Prince’s 1999 that really set off their performance. They would have to wait until The Magic Beans finished to find out if they had done enough to win the slot at Summer Camp.
The Magic Beans hailing from Nederland, Colorado have been exciting crowds up and down the Front Range for the past couple years. I’ve had the enjoyment of seeing them several times. My main criticism of them is that at times they have failed to play to the crowd. However, everything was fair game tonight considering this was their opportunity to showcase their style of music. The Beans did their best to rally the troops bringing a bus up from Boulder full of fans. This show was by far their best outing I’ve seen. They focused on jamming and playing in sync and showed the crowd that they were in it to win it. Here is their setlist.
SET I: Jam> Zumbai> Lazer Lady, Mountain Sky*> Space Cadet**> Zumbai
**I Got Your Number Jam
The show basically became two long extended jams with them returning to Zumbai to close. I was very impressed and would say they left it all out on the stage and put forth a solid performance to win the spot.
In the end it was announced that Trichome pulled the win for the second year in a row and once again claimed a their place at Summer Camp Music Festival. The On The Road tour is just one more great thing Summer Camp does to spread the love and give nascent bands an opportunity. And I for one fully support it.
After night one of moe. at The Boulder Theater I couldn’t wait to get back into the room for round two. We got caught up in the day and ended up walking in just as the boys from New York ripped into Bearsong. This song was on a five-year hiatus in the early 2000’s but has been making it into steady rotation since 2004. However I have never seen it as an opener and I can tell you it most definitely set the mood for the entire night. It felt like a virtual continuation of the power and energy present on in Boulder on Friday. Here is the setlist from PT.
SET I: Bearsong> Runaway Overlude, One Way Traffic, Head> Hector’s Pillow> Bullet> 32 Things
SET II: Awesome Gary> Californ IA> Big World, Rainshine, Cathedral, Captain America> Mexico
ENCORE: Chromatic Nightmare> Rebubula
You can download the recording on Archive. Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting.
Bearsong was like jumping feet first into the hot coals of a raging fire. We got a chance to catch half a breath with the intro to Runaway Overlude before Chuck and Al went into dueling guitar solos. Al even made his way over to Chuck side for the musical battle. One Way Traffic, a Rob song off of Welcome To The La Las, confused a few in the crowd, but I enjoyed it. As I said in my review from night one I really dig how moe. transforms and expands on their newer songs in a live setting. They always seem to fit well into the overall mix for me and I’ve felt this way going back to Wormwood.
Head saw Al taking the reigns with the ferocity that made me a fan of his way back when. It was the beginning of the massive jam that they would ride through the end of the first set. Hector’s Pillow took us back to the rage tone that dominated the majority of the show. The crowd was literally making the floor bounce as they danced fast and strong. Again the energy in the room was powerful and contagious. It was slightly more packed than night one but still maneuverable. I know more than a couple people who jumped ship from Widespread to get some electric-fueled moe. goodness rather than sit through another night of acoustic music. Bullet was definitely the highlight of the first set stretching well over the fifteen-minute mark and showing the crowd that moe. was there to play. They closed with a ripping version of 32 Things that saw Rob slapping his funky bass sublimely.
moe. has been doing a second set opener contest on their Facebook page, picking up odds and ends from the tour and putting them in a box for the person who guesses the most correctly. I can only assume that the Awesome Gary opener was a curveball for their fans. This is yet another song that took an extended hiatus not being played for nine years and only recently making it back onto setlists. I for one had never heard it performed live so I was stoked to see them bust it out. Californ IA was a jam that the let the audience settle into the set before an intense Big World. Vinnie was a rock all weekend holding down the changes and keeping the band in line. Rainshine another newer track, which I got to witness the debut of at Summer Camp last year, was solid. This song just builds properly in live setting and I dig the overall rock attitude. After which they went into my favorite song off of Sticks And Stones, Cathedral. I could have left the show happy then, but the rest of the show would end up being classic moe. gold. Opium felt like a cool breeze washing over everyone in the room and Captain America could have easily been the second set closer. However the boys felt it would be prudent to toss in a seventeen-minute version of Mexico to shut her down correct.
They encored with Chromatic Nightmare, which could honestly be the intro to just about any song in moe.’s catalog before absolutely blowing the roof off the place with Rebubula. Now, the thing about Rebubula is that I edited my Summer Camp Counselor video to this track and they encored the last night of Scamp with it. They did the same in Boulder and I couldn’t help but feel it was another little pat on my back. I know it’s just a great tune to encore with, but a fat hippie can dream can’t he? Overall moe. came to Boulder and blew away all my expectations. The last few years they have worked hard to win over new fans and reinvigorate their fanbase in Colorado. I feel they accomplished just that and had an extremely successful two-night run on the Front Range. Now, I look ahead to another amazing run at Summer Camp and am ready to see them do what they do best at one of their home festivals.
Well Summer Camp made it happen again. As the Summer Camp Counselor it was my job to be their ambassador for moe.’s run out here in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Of course I say that a little tongue and cheek, but in all honestly the last year has been incredible. Summer Camp has come through time and time again to get some amazing coverage for this blog. Thanks Summer Camp.
After spending a week in New York City for work I couldn’t ask for a better homecoming than two nights of moe. at The Boulder Theater. This two-night run was originally scheduled for the Ogden, but due to the fact that Widespread Panic scheduled their Wood Tour a few doors down at The Fillmore the shows were moved to Boulder. I honestly couldn’t be happier. I love this room and with the update to their sound system it really is a first class Front Range venue. Amy picked me up at the airport, we cruised around town, and had dinner with some old friends before hitting the show.
We arrived at The Boulder Theater around 8 PM and I picked up my photo pass. I was slightly amused when I saw on the guest list that next to my name it said Summer Camp Counselor. I chuckled to myself as I walked in and found a spot Chuck side for the start of the show. I had been waiting for this night for months and it had finally arrived, I was almost giddy. moe. came to the stage and set the night off like a fuse racing towards a stick of dynamite with a crunchy Skrunk. Here is the rest of the setlist from moe.’s facebook page.
SET I: Skrunk, Nebraska, Zed Naught Z, Puebla> Darkness> Brent Black> Queen Of Everything> Brent Black
SET II: Deep This Time, Up On Cripple Creek> Blue Jeans Pizza> (nh) Smoke, Time Ed> George
ENCORE: Queen Of The Rodeo, Downward Facing Dog
Here is the recording from Chuck Miller on Archive – http://www.archive.org/details/moe2012-02-10.M300.
moe. came out of the corner like a punch drunk boxer with something to prove. With this wake up call entitled Skrunk the crowd snapped to attention and started their two-day boogie strong. They settled into the set with Nebraska. This track is one of my favorites from back in the day and I was happy to see it so early in the performance. The crowd was loosely packed, which made it easy for me to maneuver for photos. There was a distinct energy in the room, like everyone who made it to the show was meant to be there. Jim’s vibraphone bounced off the walls for Z0Z nicely and set up what would be the biggest jam of the first set. Puebla, one of the tracks off of What Happened To The La Las, evolved dramatically in a live setting taking on a dark tone, again accented by Jim’s percussion. The sinister sound went deeper with the segue into Darkness. They ended the first set with a massive Brent Black sandwich with Queen Of Everything taking the place of the roast beef. Clocking in at almost a half hour this was by far my highlight of the set one.
They opened up the second set with a brighter Deep This Time with Rob maintaining his stoic expression belting it out properly. Al took the spotlight on an unexpected version of The Band’s Up On Cripple Creek, which stretched well over the ten-minute mark. moe. transitioned beautifully into Blue Jeans Pizza and it was right around this point that I had a modest epiphany. Unlike many of the other jambands in the scene, moe. has never broken up or really even taken an extended hiatus. This is the reason they are perhaps the tightest band in the world of jam. They are all on the same page, and they make it work well, and in their twenty second year of performing live they are honestly sounding better than ever. After another new track off of La Las they gave us perhaps the best Time Ed I’ve ever seen them play. Stretching past the twenty-four minute mark it was one of those instances where they went so deep into the jam I had to ask myself, “Are they still playing Time Ed?” It was the epitome of sickness and only possibly equaled by the twenty plus minute George to close the second set. The end of the show was simply jaw dropping and proof that moe. may be one of the few bands left that truly jams. I mean you have to ask what other band out there in scene plays two songs for forty-five minutes to close a show? They encored with a quick Queen Of The Rodeo before giving us an extended take on Downward Facing Dog.
The whole show came off incredibly well and again reaffirmed my love of moe. They shred and aren’t afraid to really blow the backend out of their songs. I got to chill for a bit backstage after the show and let the boys know that they did Colorado right. I headed back to Fort Collins with a huge grin on my face and serious feeling of anticipation for night two in Boulder.
To celebrate entering my 31st year on this planet we headed down to The Bluebird in Denver to catch Split Lip Rayfield. I had a solid crew consisting of Amy, my brother, and my best friend Ben. We grabbed a spot on the rail in the balcony as I roamed around taking photos. Split Lip Rayfield played Summer Camp in 2010 and in my oppinion are a not to be missed live experience. They are so unique and incredibly talented that watching them perform is simply jawdropping. Furthermore, I love the Bluebird; it is by far my favorite intimate venue in Denver. Good layout, awesome sightlines, amazing acoustics, and a great crew all combine to make any live show at The Bluebird a good one. Living in Fort Collins, I don’t get down as often as I would like, but it’s always a pleasure when I make it back.
Soon after we arrived Rayland Baxter Took the stage. Rayland was a mustachioed troubadour from Nashville. Odessa Rose accompanied him on violin and backing vocals for most of his set. Baxter demonstrated an incredible sonic range going from minimalist plucking to a full on audio assault. He was a storyteller and an acoustic bard. Rayland had an unusual knack for weaving songs out of observations, from his Mountain Song about living in the Rockies of Colorado to his interesting biopic entitled Willie’s Song. The highlight of his set was a tragic tinged tune called The Cold Easy Life of a Loner. It was a great albeit slower way to start the show.
The Magic Beans are anything but slow. Bringing a slew of their own fans with them, many in the crowd showed a level of enthusiasm rarely seen for a local act. Hailing from Nederland The Magic Beans have begun to build a loyal fanbase that is willing to catch them up and down the Front Range. A young band with a lot of potential they seem to be all over the map when it comes to their sound. Ranging from Phishy jam to a Disco Biscuits style dance party. At times they drifted into a distinctly Dead tone, which I found to be the best parts of their show. I will say this set of songs was very similar to their opening set for Elephant Revival I caught a few months back at The Aggie, but that’s understandable given their youth. The Magic Beans have enormous promise, and are already making waves in and around the Denver jam scene. Given the fact that they have had some solid opening slots and are finding their way into festival lineups including the upcoming Snowball and Phibstock. I see good things in their future as they continue to develop their style.
Split Lip Rayfield took the stage around 11 PM. This trio from Witchita, Kansas was a rapid fire kick in the junk. With machine-gun delivery and an urgent take on traditional bluegrass, their sound was simply infectious. Often classified as cowpunk and appropriately so, Split Lip Rayfield is a punch bowl of all things bluegrass. The only thing for certain was that this was not Del McCoury’s band. The Stitchgiver, a homemade one string bass cobbled together from a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis gas tank, is the beating heart of SLR. Watching Eaton whack away at that single string may have been their most entertaining aspect of the show. One thing that cannot be overlooked was just how much rhythm he produced with just one string.
The show was Redbull bluegrass, like slamming an espresso in a musical shot glass. The crowd was literally whooping and hollering as their show got underway. The main element that they borrowed from punk besides their shredding delivery was the two-minute structure of many of their songs. If you didn’t like one of the tunes, it was okay because it would be over soon. This was not my experience, I found myself truly locked into what was happening on stage. After I got my photos I headed back up to the balcony for the rest of the show. Split Lip Rayfield had a certain irreverence, with songs like A Little More Cocaine Please and I Used To Know Your Wife, it was obvious that while they were playing seriously they were not taking themselves too serious.
Additional highlights from the show included Movin’ To Virginia and Kiss of Death. They ended the show just after 12:30. I was 31 and happy that my first show of this rotation around the sun was Split Lip Rayfield. Having only caught the end of their set a couple years back at Red Rocks, it was great to see them playing for a dedicated group of fans in this awesome venue. I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to have their face melted by a banjo, a mandolin, and a one-string gas tank to head out and see Split Lip Rayfield next time they make it to town.