Photos by C. Alan Crandall (https://www.facebook.com/RockyMountainJams)
Video by evenstev (http://www.youtube.com/user/evenstev)
Audio by Otterman
No band unifies the tribes like the Grateful Dead. They are the spring from which all jam flows and they are the founders of a musical lifestyle that reaches far beyond the concert. With the passing of Jerry Garcia the remaining members of the family have had to find various outputs for their creativity. The most recent and well known of these is Furthur. Helmed by Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Furthur has been a celebration of the art that was created by the Grateful Dead throughout three decades of nonstop touring.
During this past summer Furthur experienced some hardships. Weir collapsed on stage in the spring and the band was forced to cancel a headlining spot at BottleRock Napa Valley scheduled for May 9th. So it was no real surprise when just prior to their four-night run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre that Furthur announced they would not be touring for the majority of 2014. Originally I planned on missing this run, but given this fact my wife and I opted to head to The Edge for the sold out show on Saturday.
We got on the road early but weekend traffic didn’t put us on Lot until around 5 PM. We parked in the Upper South and relaxed a bit before show time. It’s always a little odd jumping into a four day run on night three. Everyone is well into his or her flow and I end up feeling a little bit like a tourist. That being said I didn’t let it bother me as I headed up the ramp. At this point, I must give props to my good friend Tuber for securing us tickets and getting us settled in the 8th row. You’re a good man and thorough.
Rarely do I get the chance to watch any concert at Red Rocks from the first ten rows so this was a real treat. Furthur opened with a fiery “Feel Like A Stranger” that went deep into the dark side musically to begin the night.
Set 1: Feel Like A Stranger, Althea, Jack Straw> Doin’ That Rag, Fennario, Mason’s Children, Promised Land
Set 2: Dear Mr. Fantasy> Wheel, Estimated Prophet> Dark Star> Standing On The Moon> Terrapin Station: At A Siding> Terrapin Flyer> Terrapin Refrain> Unbroken Chain> Space> Shakedown Street> All Along The Watchtower> Turn On Your Lovelight
Encore: Box Of Rain
http://archive.org/details/Furthur2013-09-21.aud.flac16 (AUDIO ON ARCHIVE)
On paper this is a Deadhead’s wet dream. The beautifully executed “Althea” featured some amazing and accurate guitar and vocal work from John Kadlecik. The band gently eased into “Jack Straw” with Phil and Bobby trading vocals back and forth. The entire crowd seemed to join in on the refrain. Vocally it was fair, but Chimenti’s keys were the real highlight. “Doin’ That Rag” was spot on while “Fennario” aka “Peggy-O” was like a fresh breeze washing over the crowd. “Mason’s Children” is always a great addition, and this version was stellar. They closed with a classic “Promised Land.” Musically the band sounded incredibly tight. Joe Russo does the work of three people on the kit, watching him is like trying to focus on an octopus pulling a card trick. It’s magic. Early Furthur performances with Jay Lane were excellent, but Russo has filled the void tremendously.
The second set featured a more extensive setlist feature many songs from deep in the Dead catalog. They surprised the audience by opening with Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” It was accurate but deliberate in the rendition. The band simply exploded into a powerful “Wheel.” The rows of Red Rocks soon became a massive dance party. Furthur went dark again with a well-played “Estimated Prophet.” Both Pehrson and Becker were outstanding on the backup vocals, but they seemed present much less than previous shows I’ve seen. In fact they frequently departed the stage leaving just the core of the band to rock it out. The Dark Star continued the trek into the shadows musically, and this was an obvious high point for the second set. These two songs combined stretched to about thirty minutes and featured some of the most heroic jamming of the evening. Afterward they went into an impeccable “Walking On The Moon” with some great vocals from Mr. Weir. They went into a truncated “Terrapin” themed jam that featured a sick “Terrapin Flyer.” Phil’s sounded a bit shaky on “Unbroken Chain,” but that’s nothing new. His bass was in full effect regardless of who was at the microphone. Further went into a “Space” jam before concisely ripping into another fan favorite “Shakedown Street.” It was awesome to see Furthur perform Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” which was yet another unexpected gem. The elder statesmen of jam finished with an energetic “Lovelight.” They encored with a Phil sung “Box Of Rain.”
Overall this was a solid outing from Furthur and I was happy that we made the trip. Red Rocks is a special place and as each year passes the possibility that Phil or Bobby will stop touring or worse rises. The fact that 2014 will see the two split ways just gave me the excuse I needed to go. Assuming they will both be touring with Rat Dog and Phil and Friends respectively means that both are looking for a different outlet right now. Lets hope that they come back energized and reinvigorated towards the end of next year. Time will tell.
Note: This article contains some excellent collaboration. Thanks to the superb Mr. Crandall for providing photos, thank you to Otterman who posted his audio recording on Archive, and finally thanks to evenstev for shooting the entire show on a tripod and posting on YoutTube. We live in an amazing time in technology where you can go online after a concert and re-experience the show in so many ways. The dedication of fans like these three makes it easy to really examine and understand the individual performances of bands like Furthur. For that I thank you all.
The breezes bellowed through the hallowed halls of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on our nation’s birthday. Many fans spent most of the day grilling and imbibing in the parking lots that surround the venue in the hours leading up to show time. Blues Traveler’s 4th of July concert has been going on for literally decades and always draws a large audience. This year with moe. supporting I felt sure it would sell out. I was wrong. While the crowd exceeded our original quote from the box office that only 5000 tickets had been sold, it was still not quite to the brim. Storms had threatened all afternoon with only a single drop or two actually hitting me in the Upper North Lot. As we headed inside the winds continued, but it never rained on the parade.
moe. came on right on time around 7:30 PM. Their set at Red Rocks was much more of a crowd pleaser that the previous night’s intrepid journey in Boulder. This was obviously to be expected. They opened with a crunchy “Tailspin.”
Set 1: Tailspin> Captain America> Akimbo, Crackers*, Plane Crash*, Haze> Jazz Wank> Rebubula, New York City
*w/ John Popper and Ben Wilson
You can listen on Archive, thanks to Pat and Corey for posting.
moe. performed a fan favorite rampage through some of their most widely loved songs. Unlike the previous night’s performance in Boulder where they extrapolated and gave the sour with the sweet their Red Rocks show was all sugar. It has been three years since their last tenure on the famed stage, and they seemed truly happy to be back again. Opening with a syrupy segue that included “Tailspin” into a sublime “Captain American” followed by a rowdy “Akimbo.” It was enough to warm the heart of even the most disenfranchised music fan. In fact they whipped the nascent crowd into frenzy as they started their seventy minute set. They invited both John Popper and Ben Wilson out for Rob’s newest homage to his progeny now called “Crackers.” They stayed for the most interesting song of the set, “Plane Crash.” Popper ripped up his harmonica, which seemed to fill any innate gaps in this classic moe. tune. Chuck took the reigns on “Haze” before the band took on the only real extended musical jam with “Jazz Wank.” Looking out across slowly filling audience for “Rebubula” reminded me that many in attendance were there to see moe. The body of people seemed to sway and bob during this incredible rendition.
“How great is this? Are we lucky or what?” – Al Schnier
After a nod and a wink for Al moe. finished their set with another classic “New York City.” All in all their hour plus set went exactly as expected. They refrained from any extended jamming in favor of running the gambit through a collection of songs sure to please. Musically the band was spot on, and given the fact they only had a hair over sixty minutes they performed as expected.
After a fairly long stage change, Blues Traveler made their way out to their instruments. At this point in the evening the sun was hiding behind the Front Range and darkness was the backdrop. Blues Traveler had announced weeks before their show that they would be performing their album Save His Soul in its entirety. Oddly enough they played the entire music video for “Defense and Desire” before they ventured out into the spotlight. Of course they opened with “Trina Magna.”
Set 1: Trina Magna> Love and Greed, Letter From A Friend, Believe Me*, Go Outside and Drive**> Low Rider**> Go Outside and Drive> Blister In the Sun**> Go Outside and Drive**, Defense and Desire> Drums/Bass/Keys, Whoops, Manhattan Bridge, Love of my Life, New York Prophesies, Save His Soul***> Drums/Bass/Keys, Bullshitter’s Lament> Conquer Me, Fledgling
Encore: Star Spangled Banner, Cara Let The Moon, La Grange@, Hook
*w/ 13 year old Caspian from Seattle on guitar
** w/ Jim Loughlin from moe. on xylophone
***w/ Al Schnier from moe. on guitar
@w/ Caspian and Jaden Miller (age 12), both on Guitar, Ben Wilson on lead vocals
I’m sure for true Blues Traveler fans this show was the cat’s pajamas. However for many in attendance this show fell a bit flat. In fact soon after it began a steady trickle of people made their way to the exit until only a few thousand remained prior to the encore. This is understandable as many had to work on the 5th, but it still felt wrong. The rendition of the album lasted well over two hours showcasing some songs that had not been performed by the band in well over five years. The first treat of the show was a version of “Believe Me” with thirteen year old on guitar Caspian. I don’t know if BT put out a craigslist ad, but this kid could shred. They performed a back and forth rendition of “Go Outside and Drive” with Jim Loughlin on xylophone that featured some quick jams on “Low Rider’ and “Blister In The Sun.” They played “Defense and Desire” again, that saw some incredible bass jamming from Tad Kinchla.
There is no question that Blues Traveler can jam, it’s just at times it very much felt like they were going through the motions. It has become all too common for bands to play their previous albums in their entirety live. This is all well and good, but it sort of lacks innovation and reeks of nostalgia. With a new album just out from BT I was hoping to hear some it live and we did during the encore. “NY Prophesies” was a real highlight and immediately after they invited Al from moe. out to jam on the title track of the album. I’m not sure if they planned it this way, but the set stretched on too long leaving them little room for anything else. Towards the end of the show a fireworks display from Bandimere Speedway could be seen and many wandered over to the stairwell to gaze. The encore was stellar including a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as ZZ Top’s “La Grange” with another youngster on guitar in addition to Caspian. We were also treated to a new track “Cara Let The Moon” which saw some very picturesque vocals from Popper.
Musically this set was spot on, featuring some impeccable playing from one of the founding fathers of jam. It being the twentieth anniversary of Save His Soul, it was a highly appropriate choice, however there was something lacking in the rendition. It felt choppy. I think that given the history Blues Traveler has with 4th of July at Red Rocks people were expecting more of a crowd pleaser, and what they got was a trip down memory lane. Again for the hardcore BT fan I’m sure this was an epic show, however for many it was just not what we were craving. I’ve seen this band literally blow the non-existent roof off the Rocks and this just wasn’t that. Oh well, there is always next year. Happy 4th of July
Arriving at my first Red Rocks show of the summer always fills my soul with a sense of elation. Seeing the giant formations of Ship and Creation Rock cradling the most amazing amphitheater on the planet is something I’ll never grow tired of. Parking in Lower South can be a roll of the dice. It’s the area with the most pronounced Shakedown and this show was no different. All manner of wooks, puppy pullers, yuppies, and heads mingled on the red gravel paths formed by the rows of cars. Each year the fan base seems younger and younger particularly at Umphrey’s McGee shows. Dreadlocked boys lacking shirts and sometimes common sense peddle their wares. Items ranging from beer koozies to DMT are all easily available if you know what you are looking for. After meeting a few friends I headed in early to catch Delta Spirit.
I wandered up the ramp and found that the crowd was non-existent. In fact I literally walked all the way to the gate and inside with not so much as a pause. Inside, the first twenty or so rows saw a light scattering of people, which did little to instill my confidence that the show would sell out. Delta Spirit is a five-piece hailing from Brooklyn by way of Long Beach that look like they wandered out of a hipster version of an Abecrombie & Fitch catalog. Their indie sound although energetic felt somewhat misplaced in the lineup. They blend elements of electro-pop, folk, and rock with an almost Lo-Fi sensibility rooted in organic musicianship. Their live show was much heavier and punchier than their studio work. The melodic interplay of their vocals was definitely a highlight of the set. Having performed numerous times on television and at major U.S. festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza there is no question that Delta Spirit will make it to the mainstream. I’m just curious why their first time playing at Red Rocks was opening for prog jammers Umphrey’s McGee.
Dr. Dog took the famed stage playing an extended hour and fifteen minute set to the now substantially larger audience. Their “old-timey” cover photo on Relix a few years back, proclaiming them “America’s Next Great Band” did much to make me excited to see them live. However their performance put my enthusiasm at bay. Dr. Dog’s sound is a combination of rock and indie, but what flows forth from this group left many in the crowd again wondering why they were on the bill. They raged through their time with verocity and power. However by the end it was obvious that the crowd was getting antsy for the main event.
When Umphrey’s finally came out front I would say that anyone in the first fifty rows probably felt like they were in a capacity crowd. However the last third of Red Rocks was left wide open. The 6500 or so Umphreaks were treated to the show that this band has been trying to play at Red Rocks for years. It was a peak performance for a band that has attempted such a feat here for quite some time. The five members drifted out from beyond the smoke and to the stage as “In The Hall Of the Mountain King” (a song I’ve seen them perform live) blasted out of the PA. As the music subsided they opened the show with “Divisions.”
Set 1: Divisions*> The Floor, Loose Ends> 40’s Theme, In The Kitchen, Frankie Zombie, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
Set 2: The Triple Wide> 1348, Push the Pig> Comma Later, Glory> Divisions> Get In The Van, August> Big Heart> August, Thunderstruck**
Encore: Preamble> Mantis
*w/ In The Hall of the Mountain King played along to PA
**w/ Clayton Halsey on vocals
It would be a night where Umphrey’s McGee’s powerful prog rock bounced off the walls as Walful’s lights danced among the boulders. Everything about this show was intensely incredible and far and away the best they’ve played at Red Rocks ever. Save for a couple songs nothing they played was highly unusual or rare. It was just classic Umphrey’s playing at the top of their game. Fresh off performances at Summer Camp and Wakarusa their Colorado run was a destination event with a second night to follow at Chautauqua. The first set was straightforward by song choice, but the technical ferocity with which they executed their performance was enough to make your head spin. “The Floor” stretched on as the lights flickered over the Denver skyline. “In The Kitchen” was the host to a gargantuan jam with a simple visit to the refrain. Their homespun mashup of “Frankie Zombie” which included a nod to White Zombie, Pink Floyd, and Frankie Says was a definite peak for the first set. They closed with a sublime “Miss Tinkle’s” complete with pyrotechnics before adjourning to the backstage.
The second set felt more progressive in nature as the riff heavy jams percolated from the abyss. Myers blasted off on “1348”
“I’d like to dedicate this next song to the lovely the lady in the Axle Rose t-shirt over here… just makes me have faith in the world right there.” – Bayliss
“Push The Pig” saw some of the rowdiest and darkest jamming of the night, which was par for the course at this point. “Glory” was done with a tenderness that allowed everyone to finally catch their breath before they went back into the show opening “Divisions.” “Big Heart” was short, but a bust out of sorts having not been played in 371 shows. They invited Clayton Halsey up for their set closing version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck.”
Umphrey’s McGee came back to encore with “Preamble” into “Mantis.” Everything about this show was stellar, from the extensive energy put into the overall production to the musical execution by the band. UM is always good, but when they really focus they have the ability to be out of this world. Their show this year at Red Rocks should be marked as a climax when they finally accomplished something truly spectacular at this the most divine of venues.
After a lazy night with Railroad Earth at The Boulder Theater it was time for the main event with both RRE and Umphrey’s McGee showcasing their skills at Red Rocks. Seeing UM always reminds me of Summer Camp, and gets me excited for next year’s festival. CIT Tiffany was also in attendence at the show and you can read her review of Red Rocks and UM at the Boulder Theater here. Opting out of throwing their third Red, Rocks, & Blue show around the 4th of July, UM instead, created a late summer run that included both bands playing in Boulder. Traffic was murder as all the Coloradoans sped down the road for one more summer adventure before the leaves turned. We arrived at the box office, which was swamped with all manner of wooks, hippie chicks, and lot regulars. It was like working my way through the Cantina on Mos Eisley in Star Wars complete with alien life forms and shitty oboe jams. After procuring my pass we headed to the top and parked in Upper North. The lot was full as randoms milled about waiting to head inside. Our time was short, but we managed to see a few friends and have a beer before finding a spot inside.
The show was GA again meaning that all of Red Rocks was wide open. Fans squeezed to the front as the middle quickly filled in. Railroad Earth took the stage with a massive “Seven Story Mountain” to start their almost two-hour set.
SET I: Seven Story Mountain, Happy Song, Gold Rush, Mighty River, Saddle Of The Sun, The Old Man and the Land, Elko, Mourning Flies, Lone Croft Farewell, Hunting Song, Long Way To Go, Spring-Heeled Jack, Colorado
Overall the Railroad set just had more energy than the previous night in Boulder. They were playing to the crowd with long meandering jams and even playing in a borderline psychedelic style towards the end of their set. Railroad Earth is a great band that continues to grow and evolve. Every year that they come to Colorado they bring a new song and stylistic shift that broadens their appeal and furthers their ability to excite audiences. In just the last three years they have come so far, I can honestly say when they bring the energy they are a tough band to beat live. Last year RRE played Red Rocks with Yonder Mountain String Band, but making a shift and hoping to open up their sound to new fans, they decided to play with Umphrey’s McGee. I for one think this is a bold move on their part and an excellent way to get exposure in Colorado. Most YMSB fans would know RRE, but that is not necessarily true of UM fans. Not to mention that this set was a solid introduction for anyone who was new to seeing them live. Highlights of the show included a strong “Elko” and a stunning “Spring Heeled-Jack.” They ended the opening set appropriately enough with “Colorado.”
Umphrey’s was up next and at this point there was still plenty of room at the top of the venue. I’m not sure why UM has such a hard time selling out Red Rocks. It seems that they did everything to promote the show properly including ticket giveaways, announcing they would be filming a DVD, creating social media buzz, and more. They seem to be cursed at The Edge; they just hit a wall around 8,000 attendees every year, never really breaking that barrier. The members of Umphrey’s have been having fun with some mock political ads featuring Joel Cummins and Andy Farag for president. Both sets began with an attack ad from both sides.
After the ad they opened with a fun but quick “There’s No Crying In Mexico.”
SET I: There’s No Crying In Mexico> All In Time> ‘Jimmy Stewart’*> All In Time, Puppet String> 2×2, Miami Virtue> The Linear> Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Floor
SET II: Ocean Billy, Nothing Too Fancy> Mulche’s Odyssey, End of the Road, Conduit> Nothing Too Fancy, Plunger> Puppet String
ENCORE I: Kashmir^
ENCORE II: JaJunk
*with Lyrics ^with Railroad Earth
This is just a classic Umphrey’s show, featuring some solid back and forth jamming as well as amazingly tight delivery, which has been their hallmark for the better part of a decade now. The “All In Time” “Jimmy Stewart” sandwich stretched on to the 20-minute mark showing the band’s readiness to go off the deep end right from the onset. After the band caught their breath they went into another long version of “Puppet String” which was left unfinished. The “2×2” was a chance for the band to stretch out under Bayliss’s singing. “Miami Virtue” was a welcomed tune as it has been slowly developing as a crowd favorite since its release on Death By Stereo. Bayliss again took the vocals with the progressive-tinged “The Linear.” Umphrey’s surprised the crowd with the Radiohead cover “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” which was done quite well. They ended the first set with a foreboding “The Floor,” leaving many fans chomping at the bit for set two. This was just a solid first set offering from UM. They established that they were ready to jam, and that they were definitely still playing at the top of their game.
The second set began another campaign ad and another enormous jam this time on “Ocean Billy.” The “Nothing Too Fancy” built very nicely as the band layered their instrumentation quite well, before it erupted into crunchy “Mulche’s Odyssey.” They came back down to planet earth with a tasty “End of the Road.” Umphrey’s blasted off with a dark take on “Conduit” which felt like the pivot point of the entire set. Kris Myers and Andy Farag brought the heat here before the band made their way back into the close of “Nothing Too Fancy.” They ended the second set with an incredible “Plunger” back into “Puppet String.” The second set was a beautiful display of how well these guys play together as a group. They listen to each other and they know what the other members of the band are thinking. Every time I see Umphrey’s live it’s like looking at a perfectly timed engine with all the components completely in synch. It is because they are so tight that they continue to attract new fans and push the limits of their musical potential.
The first encore may have been the highlight of the entire show with Railroad Earth sitting in with UM on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” RRE did get lost in the mix a bit, but it was definitely a fun experiment. I honestly thought that UM would entertain some more acoustic playing given the fact that they have performed several stripped down shows as of late. This was not the case, rather RRE played up to a heavier sound, which is definitely apparent in this encore. Umphrey’s came back for a second encore solo and played a nice “JaJunk” to close the show. It was a pleasant way to close out Red Rocks for the summer and an enjoyable show all around. The combination of RRE and UM made for an interesting dynamic. I look forward to the day when UM will become fully embraced in Colorado and finally sell out Red Rocks. They certainly deserve it.
Denver Music Scene, God I Love You
So I want to tell you all about 3 very different shows that I got a chance to see recently and just beg Summer Camp to put all these peeps on the bill for next year. First up is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Good lord. Now I don’t know if you have ever seen Grace, but that is exactly what she is made of. Amazingly beautiful and classy, Grace has an energy about her that makes you go, woah…Now, if you have ever heard Grace Potter you already know this…her talent and voice surpass even her beauty. It is really amazing. She has so much power inside her that she can unleash on the crowd any time she wants. Please Summer Camp Staff…if there is anyway to get Grace on the bill, DO IT!!! Give her a night set and let her throw down!
Ok, enough of that, sorry, I just get really worked up when I start talking about Grace Potter. Anyway, show number 2, some good friends and local heroes, Yamn, an amazing band from Denver, has played Summer Camp before. These guys are really starting to make some moves professionally in terms of the quality of venue they play, the number of people they draw, and more. The first time I heard these guys play I was like, did Umphrey’s and Sound Tribe have a baby? Here is some clips from their New Years show up in Breckenridge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GB2xZvmpR4 I know if you see these guys, and they tour with UV Hippo some times, that you will not be disappointed. They have a wonderful lighting director named Pauly who like Jefferson Waful is learning to paint the music with his lights and bring another element to the show. I got to catch a great rendition of I Am the Walrus at the show I went to. Seeing a band like this come up is really cool. To meet their fans who support them like no other. One of their biggest fans and my good friend Mackenzie Moore runs CAM Showear, clothes for shows…Yamn is the kind of band that brings people like her out of the wood work. Check out her show clothes here: http://www.facebook.com/cam.showear. As I get more and more into music, it is the local scene and the first fans of bands that really intrigue me. I think it is easy to see why people are big fans of big bands. But to “know” so early in a band’s career that they are the band for you, latching on and supporting them as friends and as musicians, it is a special community to be a part of. If you have a band like that in your neck of the woods, tell Summer Camp about them cuz all these kids deserve a shot.
Finally, just last week, I got to see Mr. Eric Johnson. If you don’t know who this guys is, you should. Perhaps you know his most famous song, Cliffs of Dover…I didn’t but I did know this guy had chops. With just a 3 piece he made so much music. I saw some chord shapes on the guitar I have never seen before. I think I have a new guitar hero though. His stylings were really tasteful. Beautiful chords, amazing solos…I got a bit of an Umph vibe off him and I would not be surprised at all if it turns out Jake was down with Eric Johnson.
Anyway, just wanted to let you all know about a couple shows I had seen. I’m heading out to see Styx and Yes tonight at Red Rocks, and August should be a good month for music too. Until next time…