A week into the new year, it’s time to look ahead to all of the musical excitement that this year has to offer. But first, it’s always fun to reflect back on the year I just had…
After 2012, I had been to 105 total concerts – which isn’t too many, I know – but considering I’ve been an athlete my entire life I have other priorities that take precedence over live music! 2013, however, was a milestone year for me in music as I fortunate enough to attend 45 shows, nearly twice as many as I saw in 2012. A lot of this is due to my first ever attendance of a camping festival (Summer Camp), and then of course my annual celebrations at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Let’s start with…
The Most Frequent Bands I Saw in 2013
Roster McCabe – 9 shows: I’ve written extensively about this band (now known as Night Phoenix) before, so this is nothing new. The Midwest “electro-rock” tours heavily throughout the year and I was able to catch them 9 times, putting my career tally at 20 Roster McCabe shows.
Umphrey’s McGee – 4 shows: No surprise here – my first UM show occurred in 2004 when I was just 12 years old. In 2013 I was at all 3 Scamp shows and also their set at Summerfest, making it 4 on the year. I have seen the improg group at least once every year since ’07.
Michael Franti & Spearhead – 2 shows: My favorite feel good musical choice, Michael Franti & Spearhead rolled through the Midwest in 2013 in support of his latest album, All People. I caught the “rebel rocker” at the Minneapolis State Fair in late August and about a month later in Madison with Moon Taxi.
Nahko & Medicine for the People – 2 shows: I had never heard of this band until about a week before they showed up in La Crosse, WI for a show at my favorite bar The Popcorn Tavern, which was a memory I’ll write about further down the page. A similar sound to Michael Franti and Matisyahu, Nahko just has a radiance of good vibes glowing off him that the rest of the band and crowd feeds off of.
Other notable acts: Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Moon Taxi, moe., Victor Wooten & Friends, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, Dark Star Orchestra, 311, EMEFE, Steez, and Dark Star Orchestra covering The Rolling Stones.
My Top 5 Shows of 2013:
Of the 9 shows I saw Roster McCabe perform in 2013, why this one? Perhaps because it was only one set, which means it was a straight up dance party. Also, this was on Thursday at Summer Camp – the pre-party – so it was just a great way to set the tone for the entire weekend. The Camping Stage was a great spot right on the outskirts of the woods to draw in all the campers – and everyone LOVED it! The crowd didn’t stop moving through the entire – most of them unaware of Roster – but loved discovering a new band to get down to. They closed the set with a cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky that turned into a frenzy.
4) Umphrey’s McGee, 2013-07-02 Summerfest – Big Backyard
So many great things about this show. My hometown, in the front row with all my friends, Kevin Sinclair sit-in, Pink Floyd cover, 4 song encore (!!!) that included rarity Dear Lord, this show is a must download!
3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 2013-06-28 Summerfest – Marcus Amphitheater
This was my 6th Tom Petty show, and possibly my last. A sell-out crowd at the Amp sang along with all the hits and had great energy, as always. Petty loves Milwaukee, he makes that very clear every time he comes (all 6 times I’ve seen him came at Summerfest) and even showed a surprising amount of improv jams in a couple songs!
2) Trey Anastasio Band, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Sunshine Stage
This would be #1 if not for the unfortunate fact that the show was cut short. Due to the extreme rainstorm. But wow. This was my most listened to show of the year by far. I can’t imagine a better band to make such miserable weather conditions tolerable.
1) Everyone Orchestra, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Red Barn
The lineup included Victor Wooten, Joel Cummins, Al Schnier, Vinnie Amico, Allie Kral, Alex Steele, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier and a few other I can’t remember, all conducted my Matt Butler. This show just completely blew my away from start to finish. 100% improv! What else could you ask for from an all-star lineup?!
Conclusion and Looking Towards 2014
The only regret I have from 2013 is that I didn’t get to see my all time favorite band, Phish. I had tickets for all 3 nights in Chicago but unfortunately it didn’t work out with some other things that popped up. I have a good feeling they’ll return to Alpine Valley for 2 nights this summer though!
2014 will be a great year. Of course Summer Camp already has an amazing lineup announced and it will only get better. Particle reunited and is on a heavy tour for 2014 – don’t miss out on these guys! One of the founding bands of the electronic jam scene next to the Disco Biscuits and STS9.
Happy new year, and see ya on the road!
I’m sure by now you have seen the initial line up for Summer Camp 2014 (which, by the way, features just a FRACTION of the over 75 bands that will play). For me, just knowing moe. and Umphrey’s will be there every year is enough, but let’s take a closer look at all of the other awesome artists that will be raging into Three Sisters Park this May!
I will never forget the first time I saw Bassnectar live. It was an experience for sure. The craziest part of seeing him that night; it was right after Furthur played. So after seeing Furthur’s epic performance, going into something like Bassnectar literally blew people away. I remember going into a Porta Potty right next to the stage and it was literally moving with the bass. I have seen Bassnectar (Lorin Ashton ) countless times since and I had a blast every single time.
Lorin’s stage energy is great and his production set up is always top notch. Bassnectar for me is one of those acts that are meant for a festival. Sure, he’s fun in a club setting, but raging with thousands of people at Summer Camp is going to be a night to remember.
Check out when Bassnectar killed it at Summer Camp in 2010:
Bassnectar fun fact: When starting out, Lorin’s stage name was DJ Lorin. He released his first album in 2001, and it wasn’t until 2002 that he founded his stage name, Bassnectar.
Trey Anastasio Band
If you were at Summer Camp 2013, I’m sure Trey Anastasio Band was on your wish list to return this year! I don’t like letting the weather ruin my fun, so I still (along mannnny others) got down to Trey on Sunday of Summer Camp 2013, and i’m sure he’ll pick up right where he left off this last year! I’m so extremely excited! For those that don’t know, Trey Anastasio is Phish’s lead guitarist and vocalist.
Trey Anastasio’s Band is made up of Russ Lawton on drums, Tony Markellis on bass, Cyro Baptista on percussion, Ray Paczkowski on keys, Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet and vocals, Natalie Cressman on trombone and vocals, and of course, Trey Anastasio on guitar and vocals! One of my personal favorite songs is “Architect”. This team of amazing musicians is one not to be missed.
Trey Anastasio Band fun fact: Trey Anastasio Band first made their debut in 1998. What started off with only 3 members has grown into the wide range sounds of what TAB ( Trey Anastasio Band for short ) is today.
Primus is one of the most unique acts of any band I have seen. Part of that for me is the vocals and talent of bassist / vocalist Les Claypool. The rest of Primus is made up of guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander.
Although I have been listening to Primus for a long time, it wasn’t until 2010 that I had my first chance to catch them live. When the lights dimmed and the mysterious intro music started, I grinned a large smile and I knew I was in for a treat. What I actually saw throughout their whole set was something I have never seen before in a live act. Les Claypool is a very interactive vocalist. In between many of their songs, he goes on a hysterical banter with his interesting voice. Normally I can do without artists talking in between songs, but I actually embrace it! Many people that witnessed Primus at Summer Camp in 2012 claim it to be one of the most epic sets. Well, they are ready to party it back up at Summer Camp this year, and I for one am smiling ear to ear once again!
Check out Primus live when Bob Weir sat in from Summer Camp 2012:
Primus fun fact: Primus has a catchphrase, being “Primus sucks!”. When fans say this, it often confuses new listeners. In 2011, Les did say that he got tired of fans saying it.
Yonder Mountain String Band
YEEEEHAAAWWWW! Yonder Mountain String Band. YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND! Seriously, I NEVER get tired of seeing these guys live. They are what got me into bluegrass. It’s hard to explain to people that aren’t familiar with these guys, or bluegrass in general, how hard they rage live. Their foot stomping fun is comprised of Jeff Austin on mandolin and vocals, Ben Kaufmann on bass and vocals, Dave Johnston on banjo and vocals, and Adam Aijala on guitar and vocals. I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of drums in the band (and I don’t say that in a negative way, I love it), but the way the audience dances at a Yonder show is awesome. It’s almost as if everyone dances as the drummer keeping the beat.
Seeing Yonder this past year at Summer Camp two times was a very cool. My favorite of the two was their barn set. If you were one of the lucky ones to see them perform in the barn Friday night, you know how special it was. Especially late night ( although seeing them around 6 PM with a full sun is awesome ). I can’t wait to see what the guys bring to the stage this year at Summer Camp.
Check out this video of Yonder late night in the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Yonder Mountain String Band fun fact: When Dave Johnston and Jeff Austin first met, Dave asked Jeff to join and sing in his band, The Bluegrassholes. It was then that Jeff revealed he had a mandolin, and Dave said bring it along; “just play it fast and loud!”
Lotus. LOTUS. LOTTTTUSSSS! I’m pretty sure that’s what muttered out of my mouth when I saw they were on this years line up. Lotus has and always will hold a special place in my heart. I have seen these guys so many times I have lost count, and I have never seen a bad set by them!
Lotus is made up of Mike Rempel on guitar, Jesse Miller on bass and sampler, Mike Greenfield on drums, Luke Miller on guitar and keyboards, and Chuck Morris on percussion.
I think what I love most about Lotus is the way that they build up their sets until your face is officially melted off. I’m not kidding either. When they get into their epic jams, I loose my mind. The whole audience is connected into the band, and the band into the audience and everyone is just feeding off each others energy. Not only are these guys amazing musicians, but if you ever get the chance to speak with these guys, they are very down to earth. For me personally, Lotus at Summer Camp is what’s on my mind. I will be seeing them perform multiple times in between then, but nothing is better then Lotus raging Summer Camp!
Check out this video of Lotus playing “Backlight Sunflare” at Summer Camp 2011:
Lotus fun fact: Jesse and Luke Miller are brothers. Also, Lotus has done many themed shows. On October 31, 2008 at the TLA in Philadelphia the show was billed as “Live Fast Die Young: the 27 Conspiracy”. Each of the 5 members dressed as a rock star who died at the age of 27 (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Pigpen, and Jim Morrison) and the show featured covers by each of the respective bands.
Comprised of String Cheese Incidents Michael Travis and Jason Hann, these dudes know how to bring the energy! What really sets EOTO apart from other electronic artists is their music is created without prerecorded loops! It’s all improv, and all loops are created right then and there! Onstage, they use Abelton live as their primary software for looping. Every time I have seen EOTO has been a much different.. not in bad way! Their stage set up is called the Lotus Flower and utilized 3D mapping to project really cool art work on to the set up.
EOTO fun fact: EOTO originally started out as End Of Time Observatory, with the members often calling themselves EOTO. Many Japanese fans explained EOTO means “good sound” in Japanese, and the band decided to officially stick with the name EOTO instead.
Keller Williams is a “one man jam band” hailing from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Using loop recording, his live shows mimic a full four piece act on stage. If you close your eyes at one of his shows, you often forget there is only one guy up there making music. It takes a lot of talent to do what he does, and he does it very well at that!
Keller uniquely blends bluegrass, folk, rock, reggae, electronica, jazz, and funk all together into an epic dance party. Keller often plays Grateful Dead songs which is always a plus in my book! I was able to catch a couple songs when he played as Keller Williams with More Than a Little right before Umphrey’s on Friday Night this past Summer Camp. It was so good!
Keller Williams fun fact: Keller Williams never took any lessons. He is a self taught musician!
The funkiest group returns to Summer Camp! If you have seen them perform before, then I know how happy you are that they are returning on the line up! They were so amazing at Summer Camp this past year as they funkified the Moonshine stage! About half way into their set, it started raining pretty good, but it felt so right in that moment and time! Everyone got crazier and really started dancing around like wild animals!
Lettuce is made up of Eric Krasno on guitar, Adam Smirnoff on guitar, Neal Evans on keys, Adam Deitch on drums, Erick Coomes on bass, Sam Kininger on sax, Ryan Zoidis on sax, and Nigel Hall on vocals. All of these guys are so talented! They have all found success in other acts as well, all touring in different groups around the world when not playing with Lettuce. They are an act to NOT miss when Summer Camp arrives!
Lettuce fun fact: In the fall of 1994, the band reconvened as undergrads at Berklee and attempted to play at various Boston jazz clubs, walking in and asking the club owners and other musicians if they would “let us play”, giving birth to the name Lettuce.
Beats Antique is an American experimental world fusion and electronic music group. They were formed in California in 2007. I like to heavily emphasize the world fusion part… If you have seen them or at least even heard their music, you understand what I’m referring to. Their shows are so outrageously unique! Made up of David Satori, Zoe Jakes, and Tommy Cappel, Beats Antique is another act I recommend checking out! Their shows somehow remind me of a Cirque de soleil show. They feature belly dancing and many different characters/costumes dancing about.
Beats Antique fun fact:
Zoe Jakes began belly dancing in 2000, but is a lifelong dancer, having 10 years of jazz and ballet dance experience under her belt. Her belly dancing is a blend of traditional belly dance with tango, popping, and indian dance.
Hailing from Chicago, Future Rock combines elements of Electronica, Progressive House, and dance rock. The band consists of Felix Moreno on bass guitar and synthesizer, Mickey Kellerman on keyboards and synthesizers, and Darren Heitz on drums and synthesizer. Future Rock was so cool in the Red Barn this past year. They brought the heat in there!
Check out this video of Future Rock late night from the Red Barn at Summer Camp 2013:
Future Rock fun fact: They once performed as Aphex Rock, performing a full set of music by Aphex Twin.
Other Summer Camp 2014 Artists
The other acts announced in the first round are Bro Safari, Wick-it the Instigator, Family Groove Company, This Must Be the Band, The Floozies, Henhouse Prowlers, DJ SOLO, Manic Focus, The Delta Saints, IndigoSun, Robotic Pirate Monkey, DUGASMUSIC, Sun Stereo, The Black Cadillacs, Old Shoe, Chicago Farmer’s New Feat with Old Shoe, Positive Vibr8ions, Caroline Rose, Brainchild, and Bone Jugs N Harmony. And there are many more to come – over 75 bands on 7 stages!
All I can say is WOW! Summer Camp always finds a way to keep making adding fun to the party year after year! Get your tickets now! You don’t want to miss this!
If you happened to miss the official video announcing this first round of artits, make sure to check it out below:
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.