This year I ended my festival season with a bang by making the trek from MI all the way to Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA for the first ever Lockn’ Music Festival. What I found special about this particular event was the stacked line-up of epic jam mixed in with the idea of making the music never end in a seamless fashion. I was determined to not miss this one.
Luckily I got hooked up with a photo pass and had the time of my life shooting some of the most amazing artists all weekend long. In case you weren’t aware, Lockn’ featured three sets from both Furthur and The String Cheese Incident including special guest appearances and collaborations all weekend long. Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio Band, Zac Brown, John Foggerty, The Black Crowes, and Tedeschi Trucks give you a good sense of what the festival entailed.
What made the festival so amazing for me was the fact that it was the first opportunity I have had to photograph many of these legendary artists. I was definitely one of the happiest souls in the photo pits all weekend long.
My favorite moment of the weekend was when Trey Anastasio came out and performed with Furthur for the first time ever. He helped finish out Casey Jones of Furthur’s rendition of Workingman’s Dead (the entire album) and played other favorites including Scarlet Begonias and Truckin’
I managed to snap some of the best pictures I’ve ever shot. Have a look and get a feel for what Lockn’ was like.
Photo by Brad Hodge
After just a few hours of sleep the sun again shoved me out of my tent. The manicured lawns are great, but it’s essential to bring an easy up or something to protect you from the oppressive Colorado sun. I spent the morning playing disc golf at the impressive Beaver Ranch in Conifer with friends in from Iowa. We got back and played Polish Horseshoes with some of our neighbors. Everything feels a bit slower on day three. There was a leisurely feel to the afternoon as we strolled around the Lot. I finally reconnected with my wife and the rest of my friends just before show time. We took our place just behind the soundboard again and settled in for the final night of Phishmas. This is the third tour closer Colorado has had the pleasure of hosting and they never seem to disappoint. They opened up with a somewhat unusual “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”
Set 1: A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Kill Devil Falls, Back on the Train> Rift, Meat> It’s Ice> Guelah Papyrus, Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Cavern, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan> David Bowie
Set 2: Carini> Birds of a Feather> Golden Age> Prince Caspian*> Piper> Boogie On Reggae Woman> Saw It Again, Mike’s Song> Legalize It**> Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life> Suzy Greenberg
Encore: Character Zero
The band moved from docile to destructive with an unruly “Kill Devil Falls.” “Back On The Train” seems to be getting less airplay these days, so it was nice to see it performed. “Rift” was solid, but the funky “Meat” is what got my attention. “It’s Ice” saw some intricate jamming from Trey, before the song melded into a bubbly “Guelah Papyrus.” “Divided Sky” showcased some of the most intrepid jamming of the entire show. During the moment of silence the crowd exploded. “Funky Bitch” was a bass driven dance party. For the second possibly third time in a row, I witnessed Trey execute “Cavern” without dropping any lyrics. This is an impressive feat to say the least. Phish closed their first set with a heavy “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” into a deep jam on “David Bowie.” They went to the dark side before the lights went out for the set.
They continued that sinister tone by coming back with “Carini.” The second set featured some of the best transitional jams of the entire run showing some real creativity in the process. Phish broke into a tight “Birds of a Feather” before heading to the lighter side with “Golden Age.” “Prince Caspian” was left unfinished, but “Piper” went off the rails. Phish sounds like a band firing on all cylinders. They are a well-oiled, well-maintained group playing somewhat succinctly at times but always with authority. “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was funky and full of bounce. Phish went into an unexpected “Saw It Again,” which was a first for me. Afterwards they took a slight breather before going into an interesting Mike’s Groove. The meat of the sandwich was Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It,” which was a debut cover for the band. Three days and three premiere covers… This was obviously a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 here in Colorado. “Show Of Life” is the type of song that makes random people hug in the audience at the end of a three-day run. They closed with a beautiful “Suzy Greenberg.” The “Character Zero” encore was clean and without much fanfare… And just like that it was over.
Phish loves Dick’s. It’s apparent to anyone who has seen their connection with the fans over the course of three years. Again, it’s not because this is some magical soccer field in the mountains. Quite the opposite actually, it’s a sporting stadium in the heart of Commerce City. It’s also home to a massive oil refinery, which pumps out 90,000 barrels a day. The smog can clearly be seen with each sunset. That being said it’s the only outdoor venue with that type of capacity in the Denver area. It’s super convenient for travel and everyone that wants to gets inside. The band’s connection with Dick’s is with the fans that come back each year. No one knows how much longer Phish will spend Labor Day Weekend in the comfy confines of Dick’s, but I hope that it’s something that will last for the foreseeable future.
Photo by Brad Hodge
The campground was ablaze with activity as the fans filtered out of the venue and into the night. Massive lights on huge towers illuminated the trail as vendors fired up grills and peddlers peddled . The party would go well into the dusk as fans celebrated the first of three days of Phishmas. Saturday was another hot day with the sun forcing us out of the tent and seeking the shade before 9 AM. We headed over to a hotel where our Chicago crew was staying. The pool was complete with giant inflatable floats that varied from swan to tyrannosaurus rex. After a relaxing afternoon we spent a little time on the lot with friends before heading inside. The Dick’s Lot is well known for it’s free atmosphere and acceptance to vending. The Shakedown Street stretches over across six rows and features every ware imaginable. The rendezvous was set and we were on the floor for the next two nights. We posted up directly behind the soundboard, which you could see directly through and the sound is the best the floor had to offer.
They opened with a now vintage “Buried Alive” that was a first for me personally. This instrumental jam signified that we were about to get submerged in some serious Phish-i-ness.
Set 1: Buried Alive, AC/DC Bag> Wolfman’s Brother, Yarmouth Road, Fee> Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, Halley’s Comet> Bathtub Gin, Bouncing Around the Room, Mound, Gumbo> Run Like An Antelope
Set 2: Chalkdust Torture*, Light-> 46 Days> Steam-> Free, Joy> Also Sprach Zarathustra> Tweezer> Backwards Down the Number Line
Encore: On The Road Again**> Tweezer Reprise
The show that followed was of the highest caliber and the first set especially was just jaw dropping. They kicked it into high gear with “AC/DC Bag” into a funky “Wolfman’s Brother.” The second night of any three-night run seems to have a feeling of unity between the crowd and the band. Everyone is locked in and ready to rage. Yarmouth Road debuted this year and this was my first chance to catch it live. This song is another product of the Muraski-Gordon collaboration. “Fee” off of Junta has become a somewhat rare track, but it seems to come out about once a year. It was very welcomed by the crowd. “Halfway to the Moon” saw a sinister groove juxtaposed against the delicate vocals of Mr. Page McConnell. “The Wedge” has appeared at all of the Dick’s runs, which makes a little sense, but this version saw some extended drum work from Fishman. “Halley’s Comet” into “Bathtub Gin” was a real highlight, and it could have easily been the close to the set. Little did fans know, but Phish was far from done. “Bouncing” was a nice addition and a real crowd pleaser. “Mound” went into the stratosphere with some epically dark jams before fans caught their breath with “Gumbo.” Again a favorite that could have been a nice button on the set, but Phish was not done. They went into a heavy “Run Like An Antelope” to close out this unbelievable set of music.
Friends mingled about in the crowd waiting for the boys from Vermont to return. The lights dimmed after a short break and it was time for round two. Phish opened with a absolutely astonishing “Chalkdust Torture.” Stretching over twenty-three minutes this may have been the best version I’ve ever seen live. Friends asked me several times, “Are they still playing ‘Chalkdust’?” The “Manteca” tease was a nice touch as well. They let the wheels go and took everyone on a real musical journey with this version. They went into “Light” and I wondered if we would be witnessing a three-song set, but it was cut short. “46 Days” was rock-tastic and melted down into an S-show nod “Steam.” Phish nailed another rowdy tune “Free” before an oddly timed “Joy” that seemed to extinguish part of the fire they were building. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” woke everyone back up, but again felt a little rushed. “Tweezer” was anything but hurried and showcased some stellar bass work from Mike. They closed with a solid “Backwards Down The Number Line,” which would have definitely felt like they were refrencing about night one.
Phish encored with another debut cover of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.” It was a bit weird, but also pretty enjoyable to watch. The prerequisite “Tweeprise” ended the show. We ducked out quickly as they finished up. Just days before Phish was scheduled to arrive in Denver, Leftover Salmon announced they would be performing an after show at Cervantes. So we packed it up and headed towards the illuminated skyline of Denver.
Photo by Brad Hodge
For the third consecutive year Phish has opted to close out their summer with a run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Arena in Commerce City, Colorado. Also for the third consecutive year they choose to add a secret message to their Friday setlist. After a great night with Everyone Orchestra we headed to the campground around 1 PM. The manicured soccer fields in the south lawn of Dick’s were reminiscent of the polo fields that surround Coachella. We set up camp and relaxed in the afternoon sun as we anticipated what might be in store.
The week leading up to the shows were filled with excitement and an eagerness to rage. Friends flew in from all around the country. As soon as we were parked and set up we began meeting our neighbors. It became obvious that the Dick’s run has become a destination event. We met people from New Jersey, California, and all throughout the Midwest. We were in the stands on Friday so we set up shop straight back where the sound is the best.
They came to the stage after 8 PM with a funky Ghost opener. My first reaction was that this was definitely an unusual song to lead out with. I later found that this was their first time opening with “Ghost” since 1998.
Set 1: Ghost, NICU, Icculus, Heavy Things, Theme From The Bottom> Esther, The Moma Dance> Ocelot, Stash, Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb, Easy To Slip*
Set 2: Punch You In The Eye> Sand, Say Something> Walls of the Cave> The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony> Harry Hood**-> Silent In The Morning**> Twist> Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’> Meatstick***
Phish went into a bouncy NICU and immediately our heads start to work out the puzzle, G-N. There had been an online Kickstarter campaign to get a plane to write “Read The Book,” in the sky during their soundcheck on Friday. Apparently the sky writer was cost prohibitive so they settled on a plane pulling a banner with the same message. Apparently they got that message because they launched into a transcendental “Icculus,” which featured a reference to the aviator from Trey. Amy looks over to me and says, “I-N-G… THING it’s SOMETHING backwards.” A very nice and straightforward “Theme From The Bottom” verified this, but it was the “Esther” that pushed fans over the top. Another somewhat rare track that had not been performed in 81 shows, Phish nailed it. Every show seems to reinforce the fact that band is playing as tight as ever before. Their ability to riff off of each other and genuinely have fun on stage is apparent with each song. “Moma” featured a standard funked jam. I told my neighbor they were going to play “Ocelot” next and he seemed mildly impressed when they did. Unlike the last two years, this message was a little subtler and it would be easy to miss if not paying attention. The comparison being that it’ fairly difficult to overlook when your favorite band spells out fuck with their first four songs. “Stash” caught me off guard, but it was happily welcomed. This version was spicy and full of pop. I’ve seen this song played flatly from time to time, so it was nice to see the band stepping it up on this tune. The double hockey sticks combo of “Lawn Boy” and “Limb By Limb” gave fans a chance to breath and ponder where the band was going next. They ended the set with a premiere cover of Little Feat’s “Easy To Slip.” ELL SOMETHING…. Backwards.
We relaxed in the stands and wondered where the boys were headed for set two. After a short setbreak Phish came back with a pungent PYITE. This has to be one of my favorite set openers of all time. It’s like a shot of espresso for any audience. The “Sand” was a full on assault of the senses and included a “2001” tease. This was only the second time Phish performed “Say Something,” which is a new song Gordon wrote with Max Creek ‘s Scott Murawski and debuted at The Gorge this year. A beautiful segue later and I was witnessing the biggest “Walls Of The Cave” I’ve ever seen. It was simply huge. Next they transitioned into a nice “Oh Kee Pa” The jam continued with an unfinished “Harry Hood.” The “Silent In The Morning,” which has not seen it’s trusty steed all year long, was concise and clean. At this point we were left with SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING, and fans wondered what the last bit of the message could be. The “Twist” acted as transitional pivot point before the boys went into a stellar “Slave To The Traffic Light. “ This was a huge period on an incredible set of music. Lots of rare and fun songs mixed with tracks from throughout their entire catalog all highlighted Friday night at Dick’s. The encore included a very rare version of The Velvet Underground’s “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” not seen since the historic 2010 Alpine Valley run and a “Meatstick” that included Japanese lyrics. They wrapped up last year’s “Fuck Your Face” show with “Meatstick” as well. As I said while this show was definitely subtler than the last two opening nights at Dick’s, it was a blast. The message ended up spelling “Most Shows Spell Something,” backwards. It’s a fun little memorandum that is almost poking fun at the gimmicks from the years prior. It again proves that the individual members of Phish are having fun. As I’ve said before, Dick’s is special not because it’s a massive soccer field, but because the 26,000 person capacity allows every fan to get inside and share in the moment. While Friday did not sell out the next two nights did, which proves that the Phish fandom in Colorado is expanding and that Dick’s is becoming something of a yearly festival type run for people from everywhere. One down two to go.
This is the story told by a girl who survived the Chicago Phish shows that took place in July of 2013.
I awoke Sunday morning feeling defeated. I sent a nasty text message to Sparkle Ass about her being a flake and it helped me feel a little better, but I couldn’t deny that this weekend was starting to kick my ass. Although my crash pad was convenient, I looked forward to sleeping in my comfy apartment in the middle of nowhere special.
This wasn’t fun anymore.
This weekend Phish will be taking over Chicago for a three night run at Northerly Island. With Saturday already sold out, Kuroda sporting a new light rig, and a completely revamped venue, this is bound to be a throwdown! But the party doesn’t stop there! Quite a few Summer Camp favorites are playing late night shows all around Chicago this weekend. Here’s a little heads up on some don’t-miss late nights for those of you heading to Phish….
Friday night the funk machine better known as Dumpstaphunk will be playing the House of Blues in Chicago. Their newest album, Dirty Word (available for pre-order), is about to drop at the end of the month, so this late night is guaranteed to get DIRTY!!! ”We are touring in support of the new Album, so people will definitely hear new material,” says drummer Nikki Glaspie. Not to mention that the HOB is one of the few venues in the Midwest to have a spring floor, which means you have no choice but to get down the minute the music starts and getting down is exactly what NOLA’s Dumpstaphunk is known for.
Chicago holds a special place in Dumpsta history. It was at the Mid back in 2011 that drummer, Nikki Glaspie, played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk. In two short years she has brought the band to a whole other level. This late night will be a funky dance party through and through. What a great way to kick off the weekend!
If you are not familiar, Gamehenge was the setting of a musical masterpiece Trey Anastasio developed in college for his senior year project way back in 1987. It is basically the story of a man on a journey to get the goods. I won’t give away too much, but lets just say this album was the platform on which Phish was constructed. So in the same fashion that Phish grew into the beast it is today, Spread throws down some heavy improvisation in every song they play. They are guaranteed to split open the Hard Rock Cafe and we might even get a ”Wiiiillllllsoooon” tease thrown in the mix.
Finally, Summer Camp’s favorite late night act is doing what they do best by providing a Talking Heads dance party until the wee hours of the morning. This Must Be The Band will be playing Martyrs 7/20 and 7/21. Their first set on both Saturday and Sunday will be all request, where the loudest person in the crowd gets to choose what gets played next (so long as it’s Talking Heads music). The second set each night will be Speaking in Tongues, note by note. How neat is that?!
Needless to say, Summertime Chi is in full swing, SCampers! This weekend is going to be the type where the party just doesn’t stop…. So get out there and get your groove on!
With their first show selling out months in advance, The Meter Men decided to add a second night at The Ogden. By many accounts the second night which coincided with Page McConnell’s birthday, was the show to see. We arrived around 8:15 PM grabbed our passes and headed to Sancho’s for some pre-show libations. As we walked we passed Mike from Euforquestra, he let us know they would take the stage sharply at 9PM. After our drink we walked inside the worn walls of The Ogden to get down to Fort Collins’ Finest Euforquestra. Due to a last minute cancellation from the original openers they were asked to fill the bill just a few days prior to the show. They of course obliged and put on a forty-five minute romp of worldly music that was enough to please all of the early arrivers. At first the room was a loosely cobbled together assortment of patrons, but soon the room swelled to its proper size. They began the night with a tight and focused rendition of their now almost classic “Road Funk.” Matt Pitts from The Motet was sitting in for new father Ryan Jeter on sax. He added his own flair to the Euforquestra sound. Highlights from the set included an amazing “Price Is Right” and a jittery “Instant Coffee.” The crowd was complete as they closed the set with Beck’s “Nicotine and Gravy.”
The Meter Men consisting of The Meters sans Art Neville with Page McConnell took the stage shortly after 10 PM. We were immediately hit with their classic “Fire on the Bayou” which saw some searing guitar work from Leo Nocentelli. He would be on point all night, but with a stage filled with such talent by the end I felt like I had whiplash. During “Funkify Your Life” Ziggy Modeliste took the mic and tossed solos to both Porter and Page.
“George Porter taught me all I know about red beans and rice.” – Modiste
Ziggy was in the funk pocket for the entire two hour set and took several opportunities to tell stories and pump up the crowd. Many in the crowd were there for Page, but left as Meters fans. McConnell himself has strayed away from having The Meter Men perform any Phish tunes, but rather wanted the band to relearn some of their deeper cuts. Those early Meters tunes were the stomping grounds of jam for the Vermont quartet. After a massive “Hey Pocky Way,” that became an invigorating sing-along, they finished their set with the much-anticipated “Cissy Strut.” The Meter Men came back for the encore with a massive “Happy Birthday Jam” for Page, which was yet another high point in a great set of music. Reviews from night one seemed mixed at best. Some felt the energy from both band and crowd may have been lacking. I have to say that was not the case for this show. Seeing so much live music I rarely get totally jazzed up after a show. As I headed out into the crisp night air I was all smiles. The Meter Men are a viable project reminiscent of The Big Easy Blowout project that toured the Front Range back in 2006. The difference is that rather than a random assemblage of awesome musicians playing the music or New Orleans, three fourths of The Meter Men made the music of NOLA what it is today. Plus you know… Page. Here’s to hoping they continue to spread the funk for years to come.
For many, many, many, and yes, many years I have been dying to see one particular band that I had heard so much about. One band that has the reputation of being the ultimate jam band, with a massive following that they have accumulated since their beginnings in 1983. On Friday June 29, 2012 I was finally given the opportunity to experience the musical genius that is Phish.
From the second we arrived at the venue I could already tell that this was going to be a unique show. The crowd was in general, a little older and a little more reserved in a way – but definitely not in a bad way. These were the die hard fans that love the music and the band in a truly exceptional and loyal sense; they were there for no other reason.
Unlike most of the shows I normally attend, there were a total of four hula hoops (mine included) and not many other flashy toys…and the truth was that once the show started, it was easy to see why: the band is so captivating, and the energy between the band and the fans is so powerful, that it’s almost impossible to tear yourself away to look at or play with hoops.
I can’t imagine how much money went into their light show; it was amazing. The overall picture from the lawn at Klipsch Music Center was spectacular. On the big screens it was possible to get detailed views of the expressions on Trey Anastasio’s face as he sang his heart out. We could see Page McConnell’s fingers go crazy on the keyboard, Mike Gordon’s insane picking on the bass, and the Jon Fishman wailing on the drums. The whole band had such awesome chemistry and it was contagious – as there wasn’t a single song that you didn’t find yourself singing along to. “Possum” was by far the best example of everyone dancing and singing together as the song built up every time with the main chorus.
The first set was great, and from some of the fans I learned that it was a unique compilation of their music. That Friday was the first time since 1998 that they played the song “Sweet Jane.” Among my favorite tracks was “Limb by Limb,” where the harmonizing really made the song. I also liked the ominous and almost scary tone that chilled your bones as they played “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.” I was ECSTATIC when they played “First Tube” during their encore – as that is one of my all time favorites. However to be completely honest, my favorite part of the concert was when they finished their first set with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” one of my favorite Beatles songs. It was by far the greatest live performance of that song I have ever seen or heard.
So, overall, I am so glad we trekked to Indianapolis for this most amazing of musical experiences. Phish not only lived up to all my expectations but surpassed them. If you are like me and have always “heard great things” but never had the chance to go, start turning wheels to make it happen. From the first song to their last, this show was a unique adventure – the music, lights and atmosphere was in itself a journey that filled you with emotion and made you wish it would never come to an end. This was my first Phish show, but I guarantee you it will most certainly not be my last.
Summer 2012 Festival season in review
So what has ChickenHeadFan been up to since last Summer Camp Music Festival? Well, I was doing my normal thing, going to shows, taking pictures and videos to share with all of you. As we all know Summer Camp Music Festival is ChickenHeadFan’s true home! There is nothing he loves more than the 4 days he spends over Memorial Day weekend with all of you at Camp. This summer I did some branching out and I was lucky enough to go to four other music festivals and each one had many unique things that make them special. I like to keep the Summer Camp Spirit flowing all summer long and I figured trying out some new festivals was a great way to keep that spirit going! In this blog I will give you some highlights of each festival.
Bonnaroo was a great time. It was my first time going so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The experience was a lot different than Summer Camp, but that can be expected as there are as many as 80,000+ people at Bonnaroo. We were lucky and accidentally found a back way in so we were in line for 2 hours instead of 6-8 so that was a positive right off the bat. We got in line around 2am and were not done setting up till 4am so that was an adventure. We had really great neighbors and even made good friends with one group and they are planning to visit in Chicago soon! It was a long walk over 1 mile to get to “Center-Roo,” where all the shows are, so you didn’t want to go back to camp very often. The food selection was amazing with vendors everywhere that were open all day and night. You could eat anything you wanted at anytime and you never had to walk far or wait long for food. We even bought some good ol’ Tennessee moonshine from one vendor! The bathrooms were also pretty awesome. I never once saw a port-a-john that was anywhere close to overflowing and they were always clean.
Musical Highlights: Radiohead, Phish, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Alice Cooper, Umphrey’s McGee. The first band we saw was Mariachi el Bronx. I had been looking forward to seeing them after learning about them a few months before. These punk rockers turned mariachi band (mariachi outfits included) put on a high energy show that was lot of fun. Radiohead and Phish were obvious highlights for me. It was my first time seeing Radiohead and what an epic show it was. They played all my favorite songs and their stage show with the video screens moving all over the stage was a cool touch. Rodrigo y Gabriella’s new record, Area 52, that they recorded with the band C.U.B.A. has been one of my favorite albums this summer. It was amazing to see them play such complex music so perfectly live. Alice Cooper was also awesome, but we were only able to catch the last half of his show. His stage show includes costumes, giant puppets, and a guillotine. I was excited to see more later in the summer when I was going to see him open for Iron Maiden. We caught a surprisingly fun set from Ludacris during the afternoon. The set struck memories of driving to school with my older brother when he played a montage of hits including my favorites “Ho” and “Southern Hospitality.” Umphrey’s also played the best set I have seen from them in 2012. They played from 2-6am with Big Gigantic taking over at set break for a half hour. They were only supposed to play till 4am but put on a full show instead. The set including a rocking version of “Thunderstruck” which was exactly what I needed to keep me going as the sun was rising.
Whippersnap Music Festival is one of the many smaller local festivals that happens in the northern Illinois region. Here you can check out a lot of the great bands you might hear at the Starshine, Camping, or Campfire Stages at Summer Camp. The festival was located in Lyran Park near Rockford, IL. The main stage was set on a hill so there was a “natural amphitheater” with a river as the backdrop. It was beautiful! As for food, my favorite Summer Camp vendor Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was on-site so I was happy. The bathrooms at the festival were clean as well which makes festival life so much easier. Camping was very relaxed. There was plenty of space and there was no rush to find a place to set up camp. It is always a problem at larger festivals and can make the first couple hours a mad dash to get your preferred spot.
Musical Highlights: Family Groove Company, SPREAD, Old Shoe, The Funky Meters, and Digital Tape Machine. I also was only able to attend the Festival for Saturday and Sunday so I missed some great music, but was still able to catch some of my favorites. Family Groove played an awesome set that included a Beck cover and featured Joe Day from Old Shoe on vocals. I also woke up early Saturday to see SPREAD, a Summer Camp Battle-of-the-Bands contest winner the last 3 years, play a rocking set that included a Ween Cover, and some of their staples like “Deep Plunge” and “Feel my Heat.” I also got to catch a late afternoon set from Old Shoe. This was sadly the first time I have been able to catch a full set from these guys, and I was truly blown away! I have seen them twice since then, once at the Abbey Pub and once at Shoe Fest and they never cease to please.
Shoe Fest is put on by Old Shoe, hence the name. This festival was held in Manteno, IL at Camp Shaw-wa-na-see. This is another beautiful setting for a small festival. There were many families and children present and you can bring your furry family members too, pets are just as welcome here as anyone! You could pretty much camp anywhere so there was plenty of space for everyone. They actually had real bathrooms which was nice, but sometimes were out or order with a lot of people using them. Foodwise there were options but since my favorite, Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was at the fest, I had to get my fix of delicious pizza and baked ravioli. They did have two local craft brewers on site which was awesome, but one other bonus was that you could bring your own alcohol anywhere at the festival including the stages, which helped keep the cost of going to a festival down.
Musical Highlights: Keller and the Keels, Ben Miller Band, Old Shoe, Jaik Willis. I missed Friday night because of my day job so, the Ben Miller Band was the first band to rock my world at Shoe Fest. They come from Joplin, MO and have a unique sound that blends bluegrass, blues, and mountain music with an occasional trombone thrown into the mix. Ben Miller provides acoustic guitar and vocals for the band, sometimes singing into a telephone converted into a microphone that gives his voice a distorted 50′s sound. Doug Dicharry plays drums, mandolin, electric washboard, trombone, and electric spoons. His strange mix of talents add to the spice that makes this band so unique. Scott Leeper plays a self-made washtub Bass for the band. This is no easy instrument requiring the player to provide the correct tension on the neck to play the right note, but Scott is an expert at it. The band played mix of covers that included “I wanna be Sedated” and “Helter Skeltar” and some originals like “Meth Mama” and “Get Right Church.” Keller and the Keels put on an amazing show. The talents of Larry and Jenny Keel compliment and add to the talents of one-man-band Keller Williams. They played a few Keller originals like “Goofballs” and “Crater in the Backyard” along with many of their bluegrass covers such as Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” Jaik Willis is the last person I caught at the festival before I left Sunday afternoon. This is sadly one of the first times I have been able to catch Jaik play, and it won’t be my last. This man is über talented. He not only is one of the best guitar players in Chicago, or anywhere for that matter, he has a voice of gold, and he beat boxes! He holds a special connection with the crowd and has the rare qualities that make up a great solo performer. Shoe Fest was a great time and it felt like home. I cannot wait to go back next year!
North Coast Music Festival is practically in my backyard. We probably walked less to get from my house to North Coast than when we walked from our camp to the shows at Bonnaroo. I had a great time at North Coast, but since it is not a camping festival it has a completely different vibe, and the lineup, consisting of mostly DJ’s and electronic groups, draws a younger and slightly different crowd than most festivals I go to. North Coast usually gets a couple big headliners and fills in the line-up with smaller acts. Although it can be a really great place to find a great smaller band, there are a lot of performers there that I’m just not interested in. The late night shows usually make up for the sometimes lackluster line-up.
Musical Higlights: EOTO, STS9, Umphrey’s Mcgee, Papadosio. The first show I saw was EOTO. I always enjoy seeing them because I can hardly believe two guys can make all those weird noises, and with real instruments too. I was able to catch Papadosio for my second time at one of the smaller stages. They put on a good show as always. STS9 is always a highlight anytime I see them, and between their headlining spot at the festival and their after party show at the House of Blues they played every song I wanted to hear including some of my favorites “Unquestionable Supremecy of Nature” “Evasive Maneuvers”, and “Inspire Stikes Back.” Unfortunately, due to restrictions put on the festival, STS9 got their sound cut when their last song went few seconds past the 10pm cutoff. The second day at the festival the weather was unpredictable and I had to miss out on Family Groove Company’s main stage performance because the festival had a no re-entry policy. I saw Strange Arrangement at one of the smaller stages at the festival where I saw some of the best shows. I was able to catch Atmostphere and Future Rock before the nights headliner and one of my favorites, Umphrey’s McGee. This was their second year headlining the festival after playing the inaugural North Coast Fest 2 years ago. I went to the STS9 after party at the House of Blues because STS9 only comes to Chicago so often so you have to see them when you can. Sunday I got a late start but I as able to see Digital Tape Machine and Big Boi from Outkast perform. Big Boi was a fun experience, and someone who I typically might not see, he played “Sorry Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” , so it was a pretty good time. The real highlight of the night was seeing Umphrey’s play at the Congress Theater, which is the only major theater I have not seen them perform at in Chicago. The show was rocking, and included a cover of Toto’s “Rosanna” and teases of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Bulls on Parade.” North Coast Music Festival always ends up being a great time, but the after party shows always seem to be the best part for me.
So that is pretty much the story of my festival season this year. I had a great time but you know I was busy catching shows in between each music festival as well! What kind of shows you ask? Well to find out you will have to wait for my next blog post that will be Coming Soon!
Photo Credit – Andrew Feigl for both Bonnaroo photos
Photo credit – Adam Alexander for Chickenheadfan North Coast photo
Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 8-31-12
Note: This first night’s coverage contains strong language, not because the author is crass, but because Phish is.
Fans have culled through setlists for close to three decades looking to decode the secret language of The Phish from Vermont. Themes have been discovered, but never has such a direct and blatant message been delivered to a crowd as it was on the first night of the Phish’s second tour closing run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Savvy fans had the premise nailed down by “Carini,” but as with the “S” Show on last year’s opening night many were left with the simple contentment of just seeing a good night of music. Never before has Phish spelled out a song with their setlist then played that song to close the second set. That song, “Fuck Your Face” was all but forgotten until perhaps the most massive bust out in the history of the group at Charlotte in 2010. Since then it has made a few random appearances including the now famed 8-14-10 Alpine Valley show immortalized and released on DVD. Since my noob days with my brother listening to the White Tape we have waxed philosophical about what it would be like to see it live. Well I was lucky enough to see it at Alpine and I was blessed to be the concert that can only be called the “Fuck Your Face” show at Dick’s.
SET I: First Tube, Uncle Pen, Carini> Kill Devil Falls, You Enjoy Myself*, Ocelot**, Undermind
SET II: Runaway Jim***> Farmhouse> Alaska, Chalk Dust Torture***> Emotional Rescue> Fuck Your Face****
ENCORE: Grind, Meatstick*****
*”We all love Dick’s” vocal jam theme
**Crosseyed and Painless Tease
****Emotional Rescue Quote
Harkening back to 2000 when “First Tube” was a much more common first set opener, the boys ripped into this high-octane jam to start the night. Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” which was a regular bluegrass jam in the mid-nineties filled the U spot and got the crowd wondering what they were in store for. As the dark jam of “Carini” blasted out of the PA, those keeping setlists began to get an inkling of what was in store. “Kill Devil Falls” sealed the deal the only question was, what was getting the “Fuck” treatment from Phish. It literally could have been anything. The 20-minute YEM, which was the obvious peak of the first set, included a mind-blowing “We Love Dick’s” segment that clearly stated how each member of the band loved Dick’s. Phish was having fun and so was the audience. They played a crispy “Ocelot” and a chunky “Undermind” to close set one. The setlist was left at “Fuck You.” The boys were not giving anything specific away, as well as letting those paying attention in on the joke at the same time.
Many fans have complained about the lack of jamming in the 3.0 Era. Well Phish played not one but two 6 song second sets over the weekend, the first of which came on night one. They began the set with a colossal 20-minute “Runaway Jim.” Dribbling off the map into some darker tones this “Jim” eased the crowd back into the show nicely. An unusually long “Farmhouse” was to follow that found the crowd singing in unison. The equally stretched out “Alaska” was another nice touch, and it left the fans with a clear understanding of what was happening with the setlist. One of the greatest “Chalk Dust Torture(s)” of the 3.0 blasted off into the first “Emotional Rescue” since 2000. The campy Rolling Stones cover was my highlight of the show given the fact that it was an epic first for yours truly. With the setlist spelling out complete the only thing left to do was to play the title track, “Fuck Your Face.” For the first time in the night I felt that the set closer was a bit short, but honestly it was oh so sweet.
The encore again played on the FYF theme with a “Grind” “Meatstick” duo. This show set the stage for the best Phish run in ten years. Following last year I would definitely say don’t miss a Friday Phish Fry at Dick’s. Their opening show in 2011 was for the hardcore fans as was this year. They played a once in a lifetime type show yet again and as I walked out into the smoggy Commerce City air on Friday I was left with one feeling, gratitude. Phish is playing well, having fun, and energizing crowds with spectacular concerts across the country. For two years Dick’s has had the pleasure of hosting the tour closer, and I couldn’t be happier. With two nights to go many were left with one question, “Does it get any better than this? “ We would see.
Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 9-1-12
After the epic “Fuck Your Face” show we stood at the precipice of night two at Dick’s. Before I get too deep I would like to take a moment to thank my Fort Collins crew. Robin, Scottie, Amy, and too many more to mention worked hard to make this one of the most memorable runs in my Phishstory, and I want to thank you. By all accounts this was the most standard 3.0 show of the run. Night two was basically cavalcade of greatest hits that stretched late into the night. However the most surprising element of the show may have been the first set opener. They opened with a powerful “Antelope,” which was the first time this song has filled this slot since 1990.
SET I: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down The Number Line> Tweezer> Fluffhead> Roses Are Free> Funky Bitch> The Moma Dance> When The Circus Comes To Town, Theme From the Bottom> Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
SET II: Golden Age> Prince Caspian> Light*, Boogie On Reggae Woman> The Wedge, The Horse> Silent in the Morning> Mike’s Song> No Quarter> Weekapaug Groove
ENCORE: Sleeping Money> Tweezer Reprise
*Mercy Mercy Mercy Tease (Page)
The real star of the night was the amazing segues between songs like the one between “BDTNL” and “Tweezer,” which was a crispy blast like a car shifting into fourth gear. “Tweezer” has been a staple of 3.0 and as Gordon explodes on the bass it is always a welcomed song to hear. They ripped into fifth with a darker toned segue that eventually emerged as an epic “Fluffhead.” The crowd was literally being assaulted with heavy hitters, as they stepped it up another notch with a sweet version of Ween’s “Roses Are Free.” The “Funky Bitch” into “Moma Dance” kept the crowd moving and barely let anyone breathe. The dance beats were flowing and the energy finally downshifted with “When The Circus Comes To Town.” By all means this could have been a fitting end to the first set, but they boys were not done yet. They ripped into a mighty “Theme” again segueing beautifully into the scary good “Golgi Appartus.” Again this would have been a fitting end, but Phish finally put the brakes on after “Stealing Time.” This was just a massive set of music going almost an hour and half.
The beginning of Saturday’s second set could be considered the lowest point of the weekend, which isn’t saying much considering how awesome all there shows were performed. T.V. On The Radio’s “Golden Age” seems to be a band favorite, but not necessarily a crowd favorite. “Caspian” is another simple song that has the possibility to be a great vehicle for jam, but did not reach it’s full potential at Dick’s.
“Light” however most certainly did. This song has become a huge tool for Phish to travel into the unknown, and this version stretched well into the twenty-three minute range. “Light” eventually emerged into a bouncy “Boogie On Reggae Woman” that woke up the crowd after the extended jam. “The Wedge” is a common song out here in Colorado, given its subject matter so it was an on obvious choice. “The Horse” into “Silent” came next and Page sang brilliantly for the enthralled crowd. Again they could have ended there but the best was yet to come. Fans were treated to an unusual “Mike’s Groove” with Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” filling the space usually reserved for “I Am Hydrogen.” This was by far the highlight of the night, showing the sleekness of the band and showcasing their ability to still think outside the box.
The encore was an almost standard “Sleeping Monkey” into “Tweeprise.” I think the energy of the crowd combined with the sparks of brilliance from the band will be the hallmark of this show. It was literally a “best of” type concert that at times veered a little off course. It was a great experience nonetheless and it really did set the stage for the tour closing night on Sunday.
After two glorious nights at Dick’s it was time to say goodbye to The Phish from Vermont. It was also the band’s last stop of Summer Tour 2012 meaning everyone in attendance was in for a big show. Having been spoiled for the last two years with three-night finales, I can honestly say I hope they continue to shut it down at Dick’s. The band is at their most fluid musically and they want to have a little more fun before the nail hits the coffin.
Phish opened with a bouncy “Cars Trucks Busses,” to get the night started smoothly.
SET I: Cars Trucks Busses, AC/DC Bag> Down with Disease, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane> Sample In a Jar, Back on the Train> Rift> Free, Ride Captain Ride> Maze, Halley’s Comet> 46 Days> Possum
SET II: Sand> Ghost> Piper> Twenty Years Later> The Lizards, Harry Hood
ENCORE: Character Zero
Just looking at the setlist tells even the most nascent of enthusiasts, that this was a barnburner. Chunky first set for the ADD fan with nothing really getting into the “deep cut” territory, and a jam-infused six song second set. It’s basically an all you can eat buffet of Phish, reaching across their entire catalog. “AC/DC Bag” into “Down With A Disease felt a bit rushed from what we had experienced on nights one and two. The “Bathtub Gin” stretched into decent length before a bluegrass blast off with “Nellie Kane.” The crowd seemed utterly energized, everyone was there to have a good time and leave it all out on the dance floor. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The “Sample in a Jar” was crispy and clean as was the “Back On The Train.” There was a fluid break into “Rift” ending with a single beat transfer to “Free.” They’re just a band firing on all cylinders, and they continue to raise the bar year after year. It’s been an interesting journey during the 3.0 era, listening to recordings, couch touring, and catching the off weekend here and there. Phish has really blossomed and it’s obvious that they are playing diverse shows, having fun, and continuing to tour every year. I couldn’t be happier with their playing as of late, and it makes me excited for the next time I’m lucky enough to see them live. Up next was a rare performance of “Ride Captain Ride” originally by Blues Image. Page’s buttery vocals took the lead through this crowd pleaser, before the song took an eerie turn eventually taking shape with the familiar beat of “Maze.” It was a solid version that finally showed the group stepping into a deeper jam, and also many including myself thought that was the end of the first set. We were greeted with a red-hot three song closer including a cozy “Halley’s Comet” into “46 Days” into an explosive “Possum.”
The second set would open with the most exploratory adventure of the night; the twenty-four plus minute “Sand.” This was Phish at their finest passing around the lead like a hot potato, dribbling into the ether before breaking into a funky riff that stretched on. The song peaked with a fiery Trey solo that snapped back into the close of “Sand” before we all stepped over the precipice into a dark “Ghost.” These two songs were as far as we got down the rabbit hole on Sunday clocking in at almost forty-minutes combined. Phish caught their breath with a huge “Piper” followed by a straightforward “Twenty Years Later.” The real treat of the second set was “The Lizards” which washed over the audience like a cool breeze. They closed the second set with a transcendental “Harry Hood” that finished with an extended thank you from Trey, Page, Mike, and Fish and Trey ending by saying “Fuck Your Face.” All in all the it was our second six-song set of the weekend, proving to me that Phish is most definitely willing to kick off the training wheels and just jam. They encored with a quick but appropriate “Character Zero.” It was just a joy-filled weekend with old friends and Phish as the ultimate soundtrack. It’s amazing to look back on the weekend and see how this band continues to reunite me so many old friends. It’s not uncommon for me to be at any given show and see people that I haven’t seen in almost a decade. This weekend was no exception, not to mention the twentish or so group of extended phamily riding the bus to and from Fort Collins each night. We did it right this year and thanks again to all who helped to make this an incredible weekend. Let’s do it again next year.