For the second night in a row I ventured down to the Aggie Theater for some live music. It was a co-bill between local favorites Euforquestra and reggae powerhouse John Brown’s Body. It had been three years since JBB last performed in Fort Collins. I first saw JBB very early in my concert-going career; in fact they were a band that demonstrated to me what was possible on any random Wednesday night in a sweaty, crowed bar. The last time I saw them was around 2006 and seeing them live in Fort Collins it was evident that this band had evolved. As we entered the room Mikey Thunder was gracing the slowly growing crowd with a tasty mix of funk and jazz backed by some palpable beats. At times in the past I’ve found Mr. Thunder’s heavier electronic sets to be off-putting, but he actually sounded really solid. The audience was unenthused and Thunder politely called them on it. He also performed during the setbreaks, which seemed to help the overall flow of the evening.
Euforquestra took the stage and hit the fans with a saucy “Obatala” into “Change Me.”
Set 1: Obatala> Change Me, Road Funk, Soup, Backbone> Wasted, Madison Square, Solutions, 64/18, All The Light I Need, Dr. Standby
Euforquestra has been going through some changes, but watching them live you would never know it. Scott Mast continues to fill in on percussion with Craig Babineau holding it down on kit. These two are really starting to gel, which culminated in a huge back and forth drum jam during “Soup.” They continue to surprise me every time I see them perform together. Speaking of surprises Matt Wright’s vocals have added a whole new dimension to Euforquestra’s sound. However the most powerful moment of the set came when Austin sang “All The Light I Need,” which was a song he wrote to honor a fallen friend. They closed their set with “Dr. Standby.”
John Brown’s Body is another band that has gone through their fair share of hardship and change. With the passing of Scott Palmer in 2006 the band underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Through their sorrow they emerged as a more focused group blending new styles and pioneering what they call “Future Roots Rock.” They eased into the night with an organ-heavy “Ameliorate.”
Set 1: Ameliorate, Give Yourself Over, Following Into Shadow, The Grass, Plantation, Wellington Dub, Shine Bright, Make Easy, Empty Hands, Ambrosia, What You Gonna Do, 33 RPM
Encore: Peace, The Gold
The horn section consisting of Drew Sayers on saxophone, Scott Flynn on trombone, and Sam Dechenne on trumpet was the icing on the cake all night. They added a level of authenticity and panache to the JBB sound. Elliot Martin, the lead singer was as vibrant as ever and danced around the stage authoritatively. The sound had developed from the roots based songs of yore into something quite different. They were now adding elements of dubstep, hip-hop, electronica, and more to the mix in an attempt to be unique and to craft songs that are truly original. This was not your mother’s reggae. That being said they did have a nice mix of traditional and infused reggae. The highlight of the show for me was a fiery rendition of “Shine Bright.” While John Brown’s Body is not the same band I first saw in 2001 and 2003, they are continuing to blaze trails in the reggae world. They were a wonderful fit for Euforquestra and a great way to start the weekend. Let’s not wait another three years for JBB to return.
My general aversion to electronic music is well known. Although I have enjoyed a few forays into the genre at Summer Camp last year my general reaction is not usually positive. However, I’ve seen some electronic groups that play organically, as a unit, and the music is more textural than dubstep. These are the types of electronic artists I’m drawn to. Particle is one such band. They are one of those bands that hit early Summer Camp lineups for three years between 2003 and 2005. Those early shows were a lot of fun as was their performance of 80′s tunes at The Aggie.
Up first was New Orleans natives EarPhunk. These guys are the next generation behind the Galactics and the Dumpstphunks of The Big Easy. The fluidly blend jam and funk in a balanced way that makes it fun for the audience. They did get riff-y at times, but that’s to be expected from a younger band still developing their sound. They started their set to a sparsely filled room, which would eventually get about a third full. Overall their brand funk influenced jam won me over and will give me plenty of reason to give them another listen.
Having seen Particle for the first time around 2001 in a tiny bar in Iowa, I’ve watched this band grow and evolve over the years. The recent inclusion of former full-time guitarist into the mix certainly seems to have reinvigorated Particle. Their show at the Aggie was both hilarious and technically stunning. Let’s start with the hilarious.
Set 1: Sledgehammer, Funkytown, Let’s Go Crazy, Electric Avenue, Once In A Lifetime, Pump Up The Volume> Rockit> Material Girl> Pump Up The Jam, The Final Countdown> Money For Nothing, Safety Dance> Launchpad Outro, It Takes Two>
Wild Thing> It’s Tricky> Bust A Move, Don’t Forget About Me, You Can Call Me Al, Sweet Dreams
Encore: Paradise City, Eye Of The Tiger> Sun Mar 11 Outro
From the opening guitar line of “Sledgehammer” I was grinning from ear to ear. Particle has their specific smooth style of electronica, but their take on the music of the 1980’s was fairly straightforward and strangely accurate. The setlist screams of lightheartedness, but don’t be fooled they absolutely shredded these classics. None more so the massive “Pump Up The Volume’ lead run that featured an enormous version of “Pump Up The Jam.” It was like a big musical sandwich with wheat bread on the bottom and rye on top. Particle never shied away from intricate composed pieces such as “The Final Countdown.” Perhaps the silliest moment of the night came in the form of “Safety Dance.” They ended the set with their version of the Eurythmics version of a country song, “Sweet Dreams.” The massive encore included a nod to both Guns N’ Roses as well as Survivor. It was just an amusing and entertaining show all around. Combe killed the guitar adding a new and interesting layer to their sound overall. Molitz continues to be the musical focal point with the lockstep rhythm section of Gould and Pujalet holding it all in check. Here is Particle back to their old tricks, firing on all cylinders, and truly gelling on stage. I would definitely do it all again.
Assembly Of Dust is a rare but welcomed sight on the Front Range. They have been a regular of Summer Camp performing there twice as well as all the other moe.-hosted festivals. I would love to see them back on the lineup in the future. The brainchild of bandleader Reid Genauer, Assembly Of Dust is a more refined and focused project than the jam-centric Strangefolk (Reid’s first group.) The last time AOD made it to Denver it was part of a co-bill with Emmitt-Nershi Band at The Bluebird on 10/16/09. It has been over three years since their last visit and I was not going to miss their triumphant return. Their return coincided with the Broncos playoff bid against the Ravens. I was glued to the game all afternoon as both teams battled back and forth. Finally at the two-minute warning I hopped in my car to beat the after game traffic. When I arrived at the venue the game was in overtime and in the end the Broncos were defeated. There was a stench of disappointment on the streets of Denver that night. Not to mention that the temperature quickly dipped well into the single digits as the sun crept over the mountains.
Prior to the show a taper friend had arranged to record the entire concert with a multi-cam, 24-track recording. Reid offered to do an interview and he contacted me to help with the shoot. I got the opportunity to sit down with Reid and talk for about twenty minutes after their sound check. We talked about everything from his latest Kickstarter Campaign to his random admiration of Lady GaGa. Stay tuned for that content, which will be posted soon.
West Water Outlaws opened up the show with their brand of rowdy rock that seemed to start and end at 11. Another product of the ever evolving, always intriguing Boulder music scene, West Water Outlaws took the stage authoritatively. Reminiscent of a young Getty Lee lead singer and rhythm guitarist Blake “Whiskey” Rooker definitely commanded attention when belted out his prodigious vocals. It would appear that bands like The Congress are blazing the trail for a younger group of musicians who still value a solid rock sound.
Set 1: Looking Back, Meds, Credo, Dead Broke, Come On, Sledge Monster, Sun Also Rises, Things I Meant To Say, New Canoe
Blending bluesy riffs with searing vocals made for an entertaining display. I would say to keep an eye out for them, but given their energy, chances are they’ll find you at a venue soon. As the West Water Outlaws played, people slowly filtered into the cavernous Summit Music Hall from the cold. The room holds 1100 people and normally hosts metal and hardcore shows. I actually found the room to be pretty solid and would like to see more jam type shows booked here.
Assembly Of Dust took the stage around 10:20 PM. They immediately woke up the crowd with their anthem “Songs We Sing.”
Set 1: Songs We Sing, Weehawken Ferry, Westerly, Paul Henry, Arkansas Down, Burned Down, Elixir, Sun Shot, Spectacular
Set 2: Whistle Clock, Fountain, Lost & Amazed, Songbeard, 40 Reasons, Mama, Harrower
Encore: Bus Driver
Assembly Of Dust is a nonstop musical journey through all things acoustic, rocks, blues, and so much more. Reid’s stellar vocals anchor the group and allow for each of his incredibly talented band mates to really wail. “Weehawken Ferry” hit us with some rolling, rambling jamming featuring some searing guitar work from Adam Terrell who was on fire all night long. “Paul Henry” gave bassist John Lecesse a chance to rip it up nicely. Genauer lyrics are so expressive and conjure incredible images in the mind of his listeners. “Arkansas Down” falls into this category, as Reid took us all on a narrative journey. The elastic “Burned Down” became an all out dance party. Fans literally hugged the rail and flailed wildly in the side spaces. The room although large was probably only one third full, which meant the floor was full, but there was plenty of room to maneuver.
Newcomer to the band Jason Crosby, another multi-instrumentalists, spends most of his time on the keys, but can quickly bust out a fiddle for added musical textures. When Nate Wilson left the band in 2008 they didn’t immediately go out and hire another keyboardist. The members of Assembly Of Dust wanted something to happen more organically. So they toured as a four-piece until they met up with Jason Crosby and he fit the mold. And let me just say that he fits the mold exceptionally well. Next up AOD performed “Sun Shot” the title track to their upcoming Kickstarter funded album, before they closed the set with an awesome “Spectacular.”
Assembly of Dust opened up their second set with their Deadesque “Whistle Stop,” which was a nice way to ease into the second half of the show. Terrell’s guitar again soared on “Fountain,” before the audience was treated to the sublime lyrics of “Lost & Amazed.” “40 Reasons” again was a nice touch, but the beautiful “Mama” may have been the understated highlight of the show. They closed the second set with a rowdy take on “Harrower.” Assembly Of Dust encored with the too fun “Bus Driver.” This is exactly what you can expect from AOD every time; a solid show from mind-blowing musicians. Reid’s journey into adulthood has given him some compelling experiences, which he translates into his songwriting. He has a truly unique style that reeks of creativity. Assembly Of Dust may not be incredibly well known in Denver, but those that are in the know would never miss seeing Assembly Of Dust when they come to town. Find out why.
For the majority of my posts I focus on bands that have played Summer Camp in the past. For this post I’d like to focus on a band that should play Summer Camp. The fact is that they are a midwestern bluegrass powerhouse, so it only makes sense for them to be at Summer Camp. That band is Trampled By Turtles.
Trampled By Turtles is a band I have been enamored with for quite some time. Despite my interest in their music and styling I was unable to catch them live, until just recently. They have a different approach to bluegrass in general. They are slampickers, playing a hard-hitting, at times startling method of bluegrass that shreds faster than some speed metal groups. They juxtapose this with some slower more traditional songs, but minced grass is their forte. Needless to say Trampled By Turtles has continued to gain popularity in Colorado, as they regularly return and almost always sell out their shows. Both nights at the Ogden were completely packed which made for tense maneuvering throughout the night.
I headed down early to see the opener honeyhoney. Other than checking out a somewhat odd music video, featuring a series of assassinations, I really knew nothing about them. Hailing from Los Angeles, honeyhoney originally formed as a duo consisting of Susanne Santo and Ben Jaffe before forming a full band. They seem to be treading a thin line between a Lucinda Williams(esque) singing and flat out alt-country. They also incorporated elements of folk and rock into their set, but during their show it wasn’t obvious that they were a great fit opening for Trampled By Turtles. Honeyhoney opened up the show around 9:15 with their original “Numb It” The clear highlight of the show was a full band sit-in from Trampled on the song from the aforementioned video, “Angel Of Death.” Their show was relatively slow given whom they were playing with, but overall honeyhoney demonstrated some solid musicianship and unique songwriting.
Trampled By Turtles took the stage for one long set around 10:30 PM. By this time the room was ass to elbow with everyone squeezing in snugly. They opened with a sweet rendition of “Alone.” From the beginning it was apparent that although they know traditional bluegrass they don’t let it define them. They are innovators and lovers of string music as they prove every time they take the stage. It wouldn’t take long for them to blast off and begin the night’s prerequisite shredding. I did notice that their songs individually lacked any sort of real dynamics. Most of their tunes start at one speed and continue at that pace until the last pluck. It appears to me that Trampled By Turtles builds tension and release through their setlists as opposed to within the context of their individual songs. It was definitely a different experience for say someone used to listening to the Grateful Dead. Their picking was solid no matter which tempo they set and I found my eyes were glued to the stage for much of the evening. A couple of covers came in the form of a bouncy “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys and “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies. Both covers were unusual choices and executed very well. The setlist gave their fans a wide array of their repertoire. This little band from Minnesota has really made good, and they will continue to draw bigger audiences as word of their amazing style spreads. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see Trampled By Turtles in some small smoky room, go ahead, punch the ticket, and take the ride.
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.