Within moments of being around Adam, I knew that his relationship with music was unique. It is more than unique, it is exceptional – he contains a musical vibe that emanates from his very being. This aura executes actuality by transforming itself into rhythms and melodies in the form of neurons firing in his brain. He doesn’t force himself to make music, but music forces itself upon him to be created. It compels itself into existence, needing to be expressed and heard. For those of us who assume the title of “fan” or “aspiring musician,” it is bittersweet to see the innate capacity with which Adam Lufkin produces brilliant music. His first professional endeavor was uniting four other talented musicians to form the band Kinetix. Now he is expanding his sound with his good friend and fellow Kinetix member, Josh Fairman. Josh and Adam have branched and created Laskin & Robinson. This new undertaking combines a powerful blend of various genres: pop, rock, rap, reggae, funk and hip hop. Their sound is such a perfect mosaic that the reverberations originating when this duo performs cannot be defined and restricted by any one particular category.
Their first single, “Falling Down,” has finally been released – a mere two years after coming to life in Adam’s mind as he wondered the aisles of a grocery store looking for some fried chicken to ease the lingering Wakarusa hangover. The melody crept from the deepest part of his brain – the innovative genius working beyond his control. He began hearing the words accompanying the sound “when you’re falling down…yeah, yeah, yeah.” He kept hearing it and singing it in his head during the entire venture home. Upon arrival he immediately sat on his throne and laid down the drums to what he had created. As soon as he was done Adam began free-styling verses. The image of a train derailing vividly leading him to the first one: “you can’t lose track of what you feel…you can’t lose track of what is real…you can’t lose track and let your train…roll out of control.” The music, the images and the verses kept flooding his consciousness and that night the first single of Laskin & Robinson came to be.
Now, equipped with the artistic contributions of bassist Josh Fairman, as Adam plays guitar and both work on production they are officially releasing their music as this pioneering duo. Having met Adam at the University of Denver, Josh not only slaps bass, he is also CEO and founder of his own production company – Laskin Productions. In 2011 he also co-founded Scanhope Sound, a production studio in Littleton, CO which provides all types of recording services. Josh has a light-hearted and amusing personal liveliness. Simply watching him play demonstrates his enthralling personality as he rocks hard and flails his wild hair. His capacity on the bass is beyond description. Combining his persona with the magic workings of his fingers he creates smooth and powerful renditions. Josh’s hip rhythms complete Adams melodies and give Laskin & Robinson that original sound. Their songs are energetic and funky with upbeat rhythms, light reggae undertones and fun lyrics. They make even the most sedentary soul want to get up and boogie.
However awesome the music, what truly makes the tracks exceptional is their message. Underlying the seemingly playful words are powerful themes. If you listen acutely to the songs, the words take on another meaning. From the title and the beat one might gather that “Ass Work” pertains to shaking your bootie.
Yet if you actually pay attention you will realize that it is about working hard and realizing that you are truly actualized when you put all your effort into your endeavors: “w – o – r – k every day, play hard, work hard, to my craft I’m a slave”…”come to me you will find yourself to be twice your worth…cuz I’m a show you how to make your ass work.” In addition to “Falling Down” and “Ass Work,” Adam and Josh have released another original, “Top Shelf,” which features Corey Henry from Galactic. After a Galactic show, Josh was riding with Corey in his car when he heard the track. He instantly recognized that he wanted to partake. The next day Corey joined Josh and Adam in the studio. Laskin & Robinson’s latest release is their interpretation of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights.” As a testament to their laid back and easy going dispositions, all of their music is available to listen to and download for free. You can follow the band and become an official fan on facebook. From their posts and pictures you can see for yourself that this is something that you want to be a part of. Life is short but sweet so make your ass work and become an active Laskin & Robinson enthusiast.
For some turning forty is a day for celebration and remembrance, Dave marked his fortieth trip around the sun by lighting the fuse to a powder keg and blasting down the hill in style. Dave arranged for both Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger from Umphrey’s McGee to play a special two-set acoustic show in his living room. With both The Magic Beans and The Drunken Hearts supporting the entire event promised to be one not easily forgotten. I headed up with a few friends from Denver and arrived at Dave’s north of Denver around 7 PM. There was already a decent crowd assembled mingling amongst the massive potluck spread complete with a keg of Ranger. It was obvious that this was going to be a stellar night and it was just starting.
We kicked off our shoes into the massive pile by the door and got to it. So many sock-footed friends and familiar faces dotted the room, as the birthday boy chatted with his guests. Bayliss and Jake were sitting on the couch watching their alma mater Notre Dame square off against USC to complete an unbeaten season. The house was perfectly set up for what was about to occur. The UM Duo would perform in the living room and downstairs there was a literally a stage on the carpeting complete with lights and a soundboard. The basement was basically a large L with plenty of room for everyone.
The Drunken Hearts got started a little after 8 PM and quickly warmed up the crowd. There was a party atmosphere so people seemed to float in and out the basement. They played a sweet variety of Americana cut with a bit of rock and roll. Hailing from Vail, Colorado and labeling themselves Alternative Grass Rock, The Drunken Hearts are a new force on the scene. Andrew McConathy’s deep and colorful voice resonated off the basement walls. His tone has a unique quality to it that makes it very versatile and well suited to the genres of music that they play. Early in their set there was a short power outage when the band blew the breaker. The Drunken Hearts very professionally continued to play in the dark. Towards the end of the song the room was again filled with the iridescent green light from the towers. They played a tight version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and I was told that Bayliss sat in on kit for a song. Honestly they were a lot of fun and a very smooth way to ease into the night. They recently released Live for Today, which was produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, and features sit-ins from both Tim and Scott Law.
Everyone filed upstairs and quietly took their place throughout the kitchen and living room. The stage was simple, two chairs, a couple lights, a small plaque commemorating the life of Sarah Elizabeth Gewald, Brendan, and Jake. Notre Dame had won and it was time to get down. Dave politely told everyone to be respectful and the show was on. They opened up with a fully developed “40’s Theme.”
Set 1: 40′s Theme, In the Kitchen> White Pickle> Den, Rocker Pt 1, Great American> Over the Hills and Far Away> Great American>The Girl is Mine> Jane Says> Great American, Hajimemashite> Glory> Hajimemashite, Dear Prudence, FF> Gulf Stream, Can’t Find My Way Home, 2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills
Set 2: Divisions> No Comment> Soul Food I^> In the Kitchen, Comfortably Numb, August> That’s The Way> August, Bridgeless@, Jake Solo$, Morning Song, Thunderstruck, The Weight Around, Black Water*, Front Porch> Resolution> Goodbye Blue Sky> Divisions
Encore: Porch**, Night Moves^Horse with no Name (America) and Run To You (Bryan Adams) verses @ W/ Don’t Stop Believing fake out $ Dedicated to “all of our fallen friends.” * W/Clayton Halsey on vocals ** Pearl Jam, 1st time played. The audio stream is online to listen to http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/27255821.
The setlist was just stupid good and the acoustic playing along with the myriad of covers set the premise for the night. The crowd would sporadically chime in to sing along with the band. Brendan and Jake are solid players; their acoustic performances really allow the listener to focus on their ability to just pick. The incredible dynamic between Jake and Brendan was as substantial in front of the select gathering in Dave’s Living Room as it is in front of thousands of screaming fans at Red Rocks. They performed “In The Kitchen” to people who were literally in the kitchen. The entire two set show was playful in this way, with gentle ribbing give to Dave by the band between songs. The jam on “White Pickle” was engaging before they segued into a rare “Rocker Pt. 1”, which has only been played once by Umphrey’s in 2009 since it’s debut in 2006. They used their instrumental “Great American” as the double bookend Jam one of the most compelling runs of the night. ”Great American”> ”Over the Hills and Far Away”> ”Great American”> ”The Girl is Mine”> ”Jane Says”> ”Great American”, I mean really? Weaving out of their own musical landscapes into Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and Jane’s Addiction in a single strand of a performance is downright mystifying and exceptionally entertaining. Going back to the Umphrey’s songbook they played a nice sandwich of “Hajimemashite”> ”Glory”> ”Hajimemashite” before they went into a beautiful cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”
Dear Prudence – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BszbMv_adQ&feature=youtu.be
A favorite moment of mine was the “FF” into “Gulf Stream.” This was just a good combo back to back and seemed to exemplify the feel of the first set; relaxed and celebratory.
FF into Gulf Stream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa8PTMFqgRs
They again wowed the attentive audience with a rendition of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” before ending the set appropriately with “2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills.” (I had to check that was really the title of the song and not setlist notes for someone.)
Friends mingled about and eagerly awaited the return of Brendan and Jake. If the first set was a straightforward shot with a few surprises, then the second set was a field of land mines being traversed on a unicycle. They came out strong with a huge “Divisions” to start the show. Dave’s friend brought a painting that was a live representation of this song to be signed, so it made sense that they would use it as the bread for the second set sandwich. “No Comment” was a bit abrupt, but the funky “Soul Food I” included “Horse with No Name” and “Run To You” verses. This was when things started getting weirder. From SF1 they launched back into “In The Kitchen” The first of two second set Pink Floyd covers came in the form of an excellently executed “Comfortably Numb.” They performed yet another back and forth with “August” into Led Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” and back again. “Bridgeless” contained a massive Journey tease that made the whole crowd cheer. Jake played a stunning solo dedicated to, “all of our fallen friends.” Brendan and Jake played a dark “Morning Song,” which they followed up with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” They busted out a rare “The Weight Around” and the upped the ante with a version the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” The playful “Front Porch” is an old track seeing less of the rotation in recent years. “Resolution” disintegrated into an absolutely awesome version of Pink Floyd’s “Good By Blue Sky” before they wrapped it up with the aforementioned “Divisions.” Wow. This was just an unbelievable set of music.
Brendan and Jake encored with a first time ever played “Porch” by Pearl Jam as well as Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” This was such an enjoyable time and a great way to spend a Saturday Night. Magic Beans took the stage downstairs as music fans basked in the afterglow of that acoustic set. The Beans are a talented group who continue to impress audiences all across Colorado and beyond. They played as the people mingled and slowly dribbled away into the darkness. Eventually too my ride indicated that it was time to hit the old dusty trail and we left as the Beans were still shredding. I want to extend a big thanks to Dave for even attempting, let alone pulling off the most incredible birthday party I’ve ever attended. Happy Birthday my friend.
Therefore, last Sunday – tired from lack of sleep due to friends visiting for the holiday – both Derrick and I hit the road, driving over two hours to see Big G at the Canopy.
I had to be at work the next day – at 8am, so I was estimating I’d get about 4 hours sleep…did that in any way make me hesitate? No way. Nothing was going to let me miss this show.
The next day I was tired, cold, and had an aching, stiff neck. Was work on Monday painfully long and horrible? Yes. Was it torture? Yes. Was Big Gigantic worth it? F**K yes.
We entered the Canopy Club – one of our favorite venues- and Ana Sia was the DJ peering over her Mac. For me, it is always nice to see a female up on stage. She played some sweet beats – I especially liked her rendition of a forgotten high school favorite “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris. She was focused the whole time – yet dancing the whole time as well. She definitely has talent – I am sure this is not the last time we will be seeing Ana Sia.
Ana finished up around 11. After a short break the place lit up and out walked Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken – or as otherwise known, Big Gigantic. This is a unique duo – based on sax and drums. A great mix. Throw in some bass and you got yourself a show worth driving 2 hours to see on a Sunday night.
Big Gigantic was stopping at Urbana as part of their Uprising Tour…ending with a New Year’s show in Chicago. The place was surprisingly jammed and even Gumby made it to the show. What really made this an especially fun concert was that they played many of my favorites – such as their Aloe Blacc “I need a dollar” remix and their Kanye West “Get em High” remix.
Some of the other great ones were “Sky HIgh,” “Lucid Dreams,” “Shine” (A Place Behind the Moon), and “Nocturnal” (Nocturnal). There were all kinds of fans, there was all kinds of energy and the whole place was just jumpin’. In case my pics aren’t doing it justice – I want to stress how great the light show was. They did a great job; it was original and perfectly synchronized.
One of the most amazing things about this band is that they are all about satisfying their fans – and one of the ways they do it is by giving us free music. That’s right – you can download their album “Nocturnal” for free on their website. So if you are not on the Big G party wagon then your missing out. Go to their site, download their music, come to a show and praise the ingenious drums-sax mix. If it’s just not going to happen in the near future, at least I can offer some consolation in telling you that they will be at Summer Camp next year. Yeah so if you didn’t get your tickets to SC yet – what are you waiting for?
This past Saturday, the boys of Gomez (hailing from the UK) made a stop in Chicago during the US leg of their tour. In case you missed them at Summer Camp in 2009, Gomez is a five-piece British act consisting of Ben Ottewell (vocals, guitar), Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Blackburn (bass, guitar), Olly Peacock (drums), and Ian Ball (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Fun fact: Gomez records most of their music in Chicago.
Now, for non-Chicagoans, this will take a bit of explaining as they were headliners at the annual “Garden Walk” (yes, really).
Here are the basics of the garden walk: All day in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, people open their doors to their homes so you can walk around and see the gardens. It’s adorable. For those who don’t care that much about gardens (myself included) you simply go to the 3 blocks that are roped off for music, food, and booze. It’s a good old-fashioned Chicago street festival, and you get to see pretty amazing bands for 10 bucks.
Gomez went on right at 8pm sharp, and after seeing over 15 Gomez sets in my day, I’m not exaggerating when I say the setlist was the best I’d ever seen. Why? Well, Gomez is hopping on the user-submitted setlist train, and has been letting the fans pick the music all summer long. You can hop on their website before the show, pick 5 songs you want to see played, and submit. It looks like this:
To all those in Chicago who went on and submitted… great job. We were treated to songs I haven’t heard live in years – or ever – packed one after another in a set that truly showed the range of what these guys can do. It was pretty clear who the Gomez fans were in the audience… being a street fest, it was a mix of about 1000 people ranging in age and knowledge or interest in the band. But as the night picked up and the rare songs kept playing, there was a very clear set of 400-ish people that were are sharing the same amazing experience. A particularly heavy round-up of songs off Five Men in a Hut and Split the Difference proved that Chi-town has a strong tie to Gomez and their deep collection of amazing music.
Check ‘em out, Scampers. You have 2 more chances – Buffalo, NY tonight and Indy tomorrow, before they hop back across the pond and we wait for next year.
Well folks, we did it. And as a Summer Camp veteran, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was possibly the best Summer Camp yet! Here are the top 10 things I loved about this year….
1. Nobody’s set got rained out this year. Whew!
2. The collective screams of approval when Umprey’s McGee started playing Tom Sawyer.
3. Moe. and Umphrey’s light shows. Duh. I mean, you can be stone cold sober looking at those things and still be in a total trance.
4. The look of joy on some guy’s face when I told him he could have my extra Saturday late-night wristband for free.
5. The dude taking a dump in a bucket right underneath the Moonshine stage arch. (Hey, I didn’t say these were pleasant memories, but that will surely not be forgotten!)
6. A dog named Akimbo. I have no idea what his owner’s name was, but I ran into Akimbo easily 6 times this festival and he always was having fun!
7. Water guns. Everywhere, all the time, all shapes and sizes.
8. Sunrise kickball with Ryan Stasik.
9. Warren Haynes sit-in with G. Love & Bob Weir sit-in with Primus. Absolutely fantastic.
10. When I got back into Chicago, I saw 3 separate groups of Scampers within 5 blocks of my house. That’s the thing about Summer Camp – you take it home with you.
Until next year, loves.
Although Railroad Earth has only graced the Summer Camp bill in 2010 they are still part of the family. They have a dedicated fanbase and are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the scene. For the second time in two years, I headed down to the Ogden to catch Railroad Earth for a night of their New Year’s run. Last year I saw them with Great American Taxi on NYE. This year I headed down on the 30th mainly because the show included a sit-in with Kyle Hollingsworth, another Summer Camp alumni. Including my trip to Chicago, this would be the fifth time in a month seeing Kyle live. Amy picked me up from work and we headed out to a nice sushi dinner before heading over to the box office. We hit up Pete’s Monkey Bar to catch a bit of the Phish live stream from MSG before walking back to The Ogden to see the opening act.
Railroad Earth came onto the stage around 9:30 PM. Kyle’s keys were set up but he waited a few numbers before making his way to his rig. They opened with a funky Walk Beside Me, led by Andrew Altman on electric bass. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Walk Beside Me, Lordy, Lordy, Bread and Water, Little Bit O’ Me, Stillwater Getaway, The Hunting Song, Mourning Flies, Said What You Mean, Long Way To Go
SET II: Old Man and the Land, Head> Will it Go Round in Circles, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home, The Forecast> The Man Who Invented Sin> Mighty River> Like a Buddha, Elko
Encore: I’ve Just Seen a Face, Bird in a House
Note: Kyle joined on The Hunting Song and stayed for the remainder of the show.
The audience recording is available on ARCHIVE, thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting.
The first stet ebbed and flowed as far as the energy level was concerned. The 16 and up age limit made for an interesting mix in the crowd. From screaming x-handed noobs to old deadheads, the fanbase was as diverse as the music performed. The rolling and tumbling Lordy, Lordy got everyone’s juices flowing. The Bread and Water succeeded keeping the vibe at a fever pitch before the Little Bit O’ Me deflated the room a bit. Musically, Railroad Earth sounded as tight as I’ve seen them, but without the urgency of their opening set at Red Rocks this summer. They meandered into the show with a confidence and comfort often reserved for night two of three-night runs. Carbone played the fiddle beautifully on Stillwater Getaway, jumping back and forth between an almost symphonic presentation and an outright hoedown. Kyle Hollingsworth took his place at the keys on The Hunting Song. Kyle added the ragtime feel of an old-timey saloon. Inherently there are certain gaps in RRE’s sound; them being a Newgrass band, Kyle’s keys filled them in nicely. It was great to see Andrew Altman really stepping it up on bass. He alternated between electric and standup and really seemed to be finding his footing in the band. I was also truly impressed with Sheaffer’s vocals, which went from clean and crisp to almost Dylanesque as in Said What You Mean. They closed the set with a raucous sing-along on Long Way To Go.
The second set overall had a much more consistent flow and vibe. Railroad eased into set two with a bouncy and scenic Old Man and the Land before ripping into a massive 18 minute Head. The jamming showed some serious tightness and ability from all of the members including Kyle. Everyone was ready to lock in and take the ride. They ripped into a Kyle-led version of Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round in Circles. The haunting melody of The Forecast segued into the instrumental The Man Who Invented Sin. The Mighty River went quickly before RRE exploded into a powerful Like A Buddha. Againg clocking in at over 18 minutes this was by far the highlight of the entire show. They closed the second set with an equally strong Elko. It was like the band just turned on the turbo boosters on the last four songs of the show.
They encored with a quick I’ve Just Seen a Face and fun Bird in a House. The crowd left happy and energized from this stellar show. While the first set came on slower, the second set, particularly the end, more than made up for it. As we exited into the cold night of Denver we were stoked on the whole experience. Railroad Earth has a habit of performing remarkably. They have such a strong fanbase and have continued to play exceptional shows out on the Front Range, that I see nothing but good things for them. I was happy to catch a night of RRE’s New Year’s run and would recommend that everyone do the same. However, it was time to head home because I opted to see The Motet and Euforquestra for New Year’s Eve in Fort Collins. That would prove to be another solid choice.
We’re excited to announce that the 2012 Summer Camp On The Road Tour is taking off this February and coming to a city near you! The On The Road Tour finds the top local talent in each city and allows our loyal Campers to pick their favorites. The artist with the most votes each night receives a spot on the 2012 Summer Camp line up! Here is the schedule:
2/17/2012 Iowa City, IA
2/18/2012 Des Moines, IA
2/23/2012 Chicago, IL
2/24/2012 Chicago, IL
2/25/2012 Urbana, IL
3/1/2012 Columbus, OH
3/7/2012 Madison, WI
3/8/2012 Carbondale, IL
3/9/2012 Bloomington, IN
3/10/2012 Indianapolis, IN
3/15/2012 Denver, CO
3/16/2012 Boulder, CO
3/17/2012 Ft. Collins, CO
3/22/2012 Minneapolis, MN
3/23/2012 Lawrence, KS
*dates subject to change
The Summer Camp Director
Cornmeal decided to make yet another pilgrimage to the great state of Colorado before 2011 wound its way down the drain of life. They were doing a two night run hitting The Aggie and The Fox before gearing up for their December run on the east coast. I got a chance to sit down with Wavy Dave and Chris Gangi from Cornmeal before the show. It was a great conversation about everything from their new release of Live In Chicago Volume 2 and their upcoming studio album to Summer Camp and New Year’s runs. It was an enlightening talk and we will be featuring some our conversation in video form as well as on our MusicMarauders Live podcast next month.
Magic Beans, who currently call Boulder their home, are an eclectic mix of all things jam. I listened to some of their tracks online before the show and I was struck by their prowess with acoustic songs. At the Aggie, it was immediately apparent that they were young. They had solid musicianship, but other than their Rocky Top opener, they seemed to stray away from the sound that had drawn me to them in the first place. I will say that their second song, Band Camp, was like a washing machine full of jam on the spin cycle. It was a fifteen-minute opus that showed the wide variety of their skills. They ended their set with some Bisco sounding playing that, given the fact that they were opening for Cornmeal, seemed a bit out of place. Given the fact of their age, I was impressed with their musicianship and I look forward to seeing them evolve as a group. With a little more focus, they could powerful force on the jam circuit.
Cornmeal took the Aggie stage around 10:45 PM and jumped into a high-energy hoedown that was like watching a bluegrass volcano erupt before my eyes. Cornmeal always brings the heat in Colorado. Something about the altitude or the water out here just inspires them musically. They have become so well known out here as a band that always delivers live that they usually draw quite the crowd. A decent audience was in attendance for a Thursday night show in Fort Collins. They opted for one long set playing almost two and a half hours rather than breaking it up. Allie shredded the violin like a female bluegrass version of Hendrix. Wavy Davy showed some of his skills on the banjo and he nailed some back and fort between himself and Kris. Highlights from the show included a very nice Out Here On My Own and a Magic Stone Mountain that would get even the most jaded fan dancing in the aisle. As they were about to wrap up the set they surprised the crowd with a beautiful version of John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels.
They encored with a huge This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by the Talking Heads and Townes Van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues. It was a great close to an amazing show from Cornmeal. They bring so much to their live shows by creating a palpable energy in any room they play, and upping the ante for any other jamgrass band touring today. They are a fearless group that, through their twelve plus years of playing together, have become so comfortable in that they are willing to take chances and push it to the limit. Their show at the Aggie was no exception and I will continue to look forward to their regular visits to Colorado.
A Day In Of The Life
Well, a weekend actually. My Umphrey’s Red Rocks and Blue experience actually began on Friday July 1st when I picked up some of my Chicago peeps from the Denver Airport. It was great to have the Midwest peeps back with me again and the buzz of excitement that could be only an Umphrey’s show was already building. We went out Friday night and Saturday night and caught my good friends, the Fox Street Allstars as they brought their band of rock and funk to my favorite Denver bar, Herb’s Jazz and Blues. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Fox Street Allstars, please do so. They are good friends and tour around with the New Mastersounds. We all know those cats can throw down and let’s just say Fox Street holds their own.
Anyway, Sunday came and it was time for Red Rocks. By now the crew had increased to about a dozen. We had a van pick us up for the show, SAFETY FIRST, and headed out. We got to the lot just before doors, hopped in line and went into the venue. It was a slow to grow crowd and we were able to put some tarps down in the sweet spot, rows 24 and 25, just left of center. We got in touch with another crew of peeps and had our group of 30 or so rollin all together.
Up first were the New Mastersounds. They looked so funny packed in all tight on top of one another. Appearances, and Eddie Roberts’ new hair cut aside, those euro boys really held it down. I love seeing them play and I’m so happy they have become friends with the UM guys and that gives me more chances to see them. Up next was the Easy Star Allstars performing some of their originals as well as some of their dub covers. A really fun show, something must have gone wrong though with the timing because they were just about to start their bong rip influenced “money” from dub side of the moon when they got cut off. Regardless they hold it down and always put on an amazing show. Nevertheless it was time for UMPHREY’S.
I know I have mentioned before how Umphrey’s are my favorite, and this show at Red Rocks really reinforced that for me. First set began as the sun was really setting. Jefferson Waful would pretty much dominate everything that happened the whole night. When he gets to set up a rig like the one he had this night, with some 60 odd moving lights, well, he can really create some textures that are of unsurpassable beauty and I applaud him for his efforts. The music though, boy the music. This was a really special show for me for a lot of reasons. I was with some of my best friends in the world both from Denver and Chicago and I was actually privileged to be able to introduce 2 other friends of mine to UM…what a first show to see.
I’m not sure about everyone else but I am really stoked on the way these new tunes are coming together. We got Puppet String in the first set which is just an awesome song full of metaphors vocal harmonies and soaring guitar riffs. Dropping into a dirty Hurt Bird Bath was probably a really good idea, and the plunger ending was a great way to send us off to set break. 2nd set was amazing as well. Divisions and Haji were my personal highlights as those songs have the tendency to tug on my heart strings. Ok, I’ll say it, I was crying during both tunes…I can’t help it…between the scenery, my environment (inside my body), my people, the lights, the songs, it was all too much. Not tears of sadness , but almost of connection and shared experience. Leaving his lyrics open to interpretation, Brendan really allows people to connect with his music, simply amazing. Finally, the encore, Pearl Jam’s Release, with huge vocals, Brendan’s voice seemed to flow over the entire crowd and wrap them in a blanket of emotion connected to the song. This song is especially meaningful to one of my best friends, Ben Burstein, and for me to see him see this song was very special as it helps me understand what his world is about a little more.
With the show over we headed back to the van. Between our 14 and another limo of 18, we were about to continue the party at my place where an ice cold keg of PBR was waiting for us. Upon arrival, my roomie Kari was getting things ready and we were about to rage. The Fox Street boys, my roommate Jordan and his band Kinetix, and s couple other special guests who later got locked in our backyard for half an hour, were all getting down together. The tunes and the beers were flowing and we were all so happy to be home safe with each other just living the life. I think we all got to settling down around sunrise. Epic, epic night.
Waking up on the 4th we all could barely do anything considering the night before. But, in the true spirit of an Umphreak, we rallied and raged. We got up to Boulder about an hour before the show, grabbed a bite to eat on the Pearl Street mall and headed into the Boulder Theater. Crew and I headed straight up to the balcony and to our surprise, all the seats had been removed. I later found out they went out for cleaning, but it was great up there. Super roomy, awesome sound, unadulterated view. From everything I hear people talking about, they loved the Boulder Show more than the Red Rocks show and if you are into a dancey night of Umphrey’s I’d have to agree. With such a small room and everyone being such a big fan, there was a lot of energy flying around in the boulder theater. Between Booth Love, the Triple Wide, Wappy, and In the Kitchen, the dance force was out in full effect. For me, however, getting to see Murph come out and play Comfortably Numb was the highlight. Every single person singing along, it was phenomenal. Check out this video by my buddy Ben: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUkG5a2hXTM
With all that we had experienced I continue to realize how lucky we are to get to see a band like Umphrey’s. And just as every note they play can ring for only so long, seeing a live band is a fleeting endeavor. We never know how long they will play or what the future holds. So whatever your band is, go see them. Go see them as much as you can because tomorrow, you might not be able to.
So, it was getting close to crunch time for Umphrey’s McGee’s Red Rocks and
Blue show. I had a request in with Summer Camp but it wasn’t until the Wednesday
before the show that they finally got approval for my photo pass. I was stoked. It
was the first time I had gotten photo access at the famed venue that I call my
summer home, The Edge.
So when the day finally arrived I grabbed a ride with my buddy Jeremy and
we hit the Lower South Lot around 3:30 p.m. I immediately met up with J-Man from
MusicMarauders and we took a minute to catch up. It was amazing how many
people recognized me as the Summer Camp Counselor. No less than 10 people
asking if I was the CC stopped me as I wandered around the Lot. It was kind of eye
opening in the sense that I realized how widely my work as the CC had spread my
image. J-Man and I walked back down to Will Call to get our credentials. Amy came down with some other friends so I headed to Upper South Lot to meet them before going inside.
We got in just as The New Mastersounds were starting their set. I quickly
made my way to the photo pit while the rest of my friends found a spot around row
15. The place was still fairly empty which meant there was plenty of room to move
around. I took photos for the first three songs as I was instructed was the protocol.
NMS riveted the audience early and blew away the crowd. Hailing all the way from
the United Kingdom they came to Red Rocks to play. I got a chance to chat with
bassist Pete Shand at setbreak who informed me they were used to playing 3 hour
shows with a half hour encore. This fact didn’t stop them from delivering the greasy
funk for just under an hour at Red Rocks. The New Mastersounds are an all-
instrumental funk based band. They stayed true to their nature by just playing a
jam-tastic set. I was very impressed with The Mastersounds at Red Rocks.
The Easy Star All Stars were up next with their mix of reggae and classic
covers. Overall it was a fun show with selections from Radiohead, the Beatles, and
Pink Floyd. Everyone has heard Dub Side of the Moon but to hear them play live
was actually a really interesting experience. I thought their originals were a nice
way to mix it up and they truly did energize the crowd. As they finished there was a
hiccup and before they could go into Time they were cut off.
No matter I was there for the main even and that was definitely Umphrey’s
McGee. They opened their set with a solid Jazz Odyssey. Here is the rest of the
setlist from PT.
SET I: Jazz Odyssey>, Bridgeless, Professor Wormbog, Puppet String, Hurt Bird
Bath, Deeper, Plunger, No Comment, Plunger
SET II: Nipple Trix, Divisions, Forks, Sledgehammer, Red Tape, Jimmy Stewart,
Red Tape, Day Nurse, Hajimemashite
ENCORE: Release, Bridgeless
The set was one of peaks and valleys, at times making the audience really work a
bit. I felt there was a bit of a disconnect with the crowd. A possibility is some level
of disappointment with attendance. At this point there was only about 4500 people
in the 9000-seat venue. Either way there was some real highlights from the show.
The open was solid coming out very strong. I was down in the pit for the first fifteen
minutes of the set and got a chance to snap some solid pictures. As I learned at
Summer Camp being that close to the powerful playing of Umphrey’s can be intense Surrounded by a cavalry of professional photogs I focused on getting my photos so I could enjoy the rest of the show. Plunger to close the first set was awesome and typical of UM’s back and forth song setlist writing.
The second set was definitely better and focused on the sublime jamming
Umphrey’s McGee is known for. Jake Cinniger was the VIP of the evening with his
pinpoint accurate guitar work. His progressive licks and ability to segue on a dime
was definitely a highpoint of the show. UM’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer was a surprise and a nice way to jump off the path for a minute. The Red Tape, Jimmy Stewart sandwich saw the most interesting playing of Red Rocks and Blue. Hajimenmashite was a solid close to the show before UM disappeared from the stage.
Umphrey’s came back for their encore with a beautiful rendition of Eddie
Vedder’s Release and closed the show with their previously unfinished Bridgeless.
All in all I thought it was a good show with a few rocky points. I hope that the lack of
attendance is not a reason to deter this event from happening next year. A full show
from Umphrey’s at Red Rocks is always something I will look forward to.
A big thanks to Summer Camp for getting my pass and giving another unforgettable
Video From Red Rocks
The New Mastersounds
Summer Camp Counselor