Fort Collins has a vibrant music scene; case in point the monstrous bluegrass tainted event at the Aggie featuring the homegrown duo Head For The Hills supported by The Holler!. Much of the time Fort Collins is overlooked when it comes to local music, or seen by touring bands as a warm up show. Over the years I’ve tried to share some of the incredible music that happens here on a weekly basis. This show is a prime example of why I’m happy to call FoCo my home. The Holler! who are usually relegated to playing festival stages, or smaller venuess, found themselves with plenty of room for activities on the Aggie stage. I worried that they would sound thin, but from their opening notes it was clear that they came to play.
Set 1: Kitchen, Karakoram, Wildwood, Beyond The Mirror, You’re So Bad> Come Back Home, Climb, Just Like You, Red Dress> Peak, Memory, Gratitude, Song Remains The Same, Peace Frog
The at times delicate sound of The Holler! filled the room as the few that were already inside wandered toward the stage. They eased into the set with a few originals, before waking up the crowd with a cover of Tom Petty’s “You’re So Bad” into their own beautiful “Come Back Home.” By this point the crowd was steadily growing and they were definitely drinking The Holler! Kool-Aid. Arms flailed as the Friday night crowd showed they were there for a good time. The highlight of the set was an impeccable jamgrass version of Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same.” And after that when everyone thought the dance party was over, they closed with The Doors’ “Peace Frog.” I have to say this was the best I’ve seen The Holler! perform, and I look forward to them hitting The Aggie stage again soon.
Head For The Hills is arguably the best musical export Fort Collins has to offer. (I’m sure many Pretty Lights fans would disagree.} They are a local band that has made good performing on the biggest bluegrass stages in the country including Telluride. They recently announced they would play at Rocky Grass this summer. H4TH continues to draw big crowds at home and across the country. They opened the hometown extravaganza with “Down The River Road.”
Set 1: Down The River Road, Instrumental, Light The Way, Instrumental, Never Does, Instrumental, Daylight Turns To Night> 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover> Instrumental, Blue Orchid, Instrumental, Take Me Back, Scrap Metal, Unchain My Heart, New Song?, My Angeline
Set 2: Call Me The Breeze*, Mind Is Moving*, Poor Boy’s Melody, Music For A Found Harmonium, Instrumental, If And When, Midnight Highway, Chili Dawg, Nellie Kane, Lover’s Scorn, High On A Mountaintop, Goin’ Down
Encore: Run To The Hills, Instrumental> Japanese Cowboy, Love Please Come Home
*w/ The Holler!
Focusing on debuting a few new songs, and delivering a top-notch romp through their repertoire, Head For The Hills gave those in attendance quite the show. I don’t know if it was something in the water or perhaps the beer, but just like The Holler! before them, H4TH came out firing on all cylinders. The level of authenticity in Head For The Hills’ lyrics and ability is so unprocessed and at the same time beautiful. First set highlights included the prolific jamming on all of their instrumental tracks, as well as a stellar version of The White Stripes’ “Blue Orchid.” The “Unchain My Heart” was perfect, they closed the first set with “My Angeline.”
The second set began with a huge hometown jam that saw The Holler! sit in on a sweet version of J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” before they went into a gigantic version of the Holler original “Mind Is Moving.” First of all, wow, and secondly it was really nice of H4TH to support their opener by playing one of their songs. Additional highlights from the set included a sick version of “Music For A Found Harmonium,” which is a bouncy, lighthearted instrumental. “Nellie Kane” made an appearance, before they closed the set with an incredible “Goin’ Down.”
They began their encore with Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills.” First of all, nice play on words there, and secondly way to rock out the grass. Their four song encore ended with a nice “Love Please Come Home.” What a show! This hometown throw down was loads of fun, and both bands really came to the stage correct. Get out and see these guys, hopefully they will be playing together real soon.
Stephen Perkins and Tony Franklin with Willie Waldman at The HoodLab
This tight formation of Banyan consisting of Stephen Perkins, Willie Waldman, Tony Franklin, and Brian Jordan was smack dab in the middle of a two night run at Quixote’s True Blue. Banyan had a history with Summer Camp, having performed twice at the festival. Last year they performed the opening set on Sunday morning at the Moonshine stage.Perkins and Franklin arranged for a short drum and bass jam at the multi-purpose space known as HoodLab. Distributer of HoodLamb Hemp coats out of Amsterdam, HoodLab is also an art gallery and a space for live performances. Curated and owned by Adam Dunn, this place is one of the hidden gems in Denver. Opening up was self-described funk metal group Herb N’ War. They were without lead singer Eutimia Cruz Montoya. So, they played as a power trio and basically blasted through an improv set that featured heavy riffing and some tight drum work by Carter Casad. Without their voice they were left to focus on the music, and honestly this was a perfect fit for the Perkins Franklin jam.
There was a modest gathering, many of which seemed to be regulars and friends of the proprietors. Originally billed as just a drum and bass jam with Perkins and Franklin, Waldman added his horn to make it a full-blown Banyan show. Perkins unleashed his fury on the drums as the crowd settled in for thirty minutes of freeform rage. Franklin tickled his fretless bass to the delight of the audience as Waldman, without any effects or petals, created a cacophony of sound with just his horn and a microphone. At one point Waldman created distortion by inserting the mic into the bell of his trumpet. Franklin went wild on the bass causing the roof of the HoodLab to rumble as the Perkins broke into a raucous beat to blast off on another jam tangent. All in all, this entire musical journey was short but powerful. As they finished up, Herb N’ War took the stage again to close out the evening. If you get the chance spend some time at the HoodLab, this place was special, and worth the visit.
Banyan with The People’s Abstract at Quixote’s True Blue
No one puts together a lineup quite like Jay Bianchi. As I entered the newly reformatted venue, which has moved to the old Bender’s Tavern, the band Tick was warming up in the main room. Quixote’s is two stages split by a large wall. Each room contains their own bar, and it actually does work quite well. I opted to watch some docile covers by The Mighty High Band in the front room rather than get bitten by the Tick. The Mighty High Band is a basically a Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Legion Of Mary cover band pulling out deep cuts from Garcia’s side projects. This band was a fun way to ease into the night. Performing songs like “Tangled Up In Blue,” with amazing accuracy I was happy to have caught a bit of The Mighty High Band.
As Tick cleared the stage it was time for something completely different. The People’s Abstract could be called a Zobomaze side project. However I prefer to think of them as another side of the same musical coin. With Zobo’s Sean Dandurand, this tight four piece at first glance has a lot in common with Zobo. When they start playing those similarities disappear. The People’s Abstract is a instrumental blend of jazz, funk, rock, and more. As people slowly filtered in, it almost seemed that they were caught off guard by the incredible music coming from the stage. I too found myself blown away but this unassuming quartet. Given their warm take on jazzy funk, they were a perfect fit to open for Banyan.As I mentioned earlier, this was a tight four-piece version of Banyan. I have seen this group bloated with as many as seven members, however this amalgamation of Banyan had laser focus and impeccable back and forth. With Franklin and Perkins holding down the rhythm, Jordan and Waldman were left to fill in the musical gaps. Performing two sets, over the course of a few hours, Banyan proved once again why they are not to be missed.
Banyan Live at Quixote’s True Blue on February 9, 2013.
Weaving their way through jazz, rock, and Middle Eastern inspired jams, Banyan is as fluid as any group you will see live; in essence with a rotating pool of players you have to see. Perkins just wows the crowd as he slowly peels off layers until he is left in his signature black wife beater. Watching Stephen Perkins in a tiny room playing jazz to forty of fifty people is something everyone should experience. He is a force behind the kit that literally unleashes an all out attack on the skins. Waldman back on stage with his effects is able to paint sonic murals that fly around the crowd. Franklin too is a beast who simply shreds. Brian Jordan, continues to impress with his virtuoso guitar work. They sounded fantastic together and I would love to see this lineup continue to tour regularly, as it was too much fun. If you’ve never heard of them, download the show, take a listen, and get inspired. This type of free form musical exploration is a rare treat in today’s paint by numbers scene. It’s definitely worth checking out and it could change your perspective on what jam can be.
My general aversion to electronic music is well known. Although I have enjoyed a few forays into the genre at Summer Camp last year my general reaction is not usually positive. However, I’ve seen some electronic groups that play organically, as a unit, and the music is more textural than dubstep. These are the types of electronic artists I’m drawn to. Particle is one such band. They are one of those bands that hit early Summer Camp lineups for three years between 2003 and 2005. Those early shows were a lot of fun as was their performance of 80′s tunes at The Aggie.
Up first was New Orleans natives EarPhunk. These guys are the next generation behind the Galactics and the Dumpstphunks of The Big Easy. The fluidly blend jam and funk in a balanced way that makes it fun for the audience. They did get riff-y at times, but that’s to be expected from a younger band still developing their sound. They started their set to a sparsely filled room, which would eventually get about a third full. Overall their brand funk influenced jam won me over and will give me plenty of reason to give them another listen.
Having seen Particle for the first time around 2001 in a tiny bar in Iowa, I’ve watched this band grow and evolve over the years. The recent inclusion of former full-time guitarist into the mix certainly seems to have reinvigorated Particle. Their show at the Aggie was both hilarious and technically stunning. Let’s start with the hilarious.
Set 1: Sledgehammer, Funkytown, Let’s Go Crazy, Electric Avenue, Once In A Lifetime, Pump Up The Volume> Rockit> Material Girl> Pump Up The Jam, The Final Countdown> Money For Nothing, Safety Dance> Launchpad Outro, It Takes Two>
Wild Thing> It’s Tricky> Bust A Move, Don’t Forget About Me, You Can Call Me Al, Sweet Dreams
Encore: Paradise City, Eye Of The Tiger> Sun Mar 11 Outro
From the opening guitar line of “Sledgehammer” I was grinning from ear to ear. Particle has their specific smooth style of electronica, but their take on the music of the 1980’s was fairly straightforward and strangely accurate. The setlist screams of lightheartedness, but don’t be fooled they absolutely shredded these classics. None more so the massive “Pump Up The Volume’ lead run that featured an enormous version of “Pump Up The Jam.” It was like a big musical sandwich with wheat bread on the bottom and rye on top. Particle never shied away from intricate composed pieces such as “The Final Countdown.” Perhaps the silliest moment of the night came in the form of “Safety Dance.” They ended the set with their version of the Eurythmics version of a country song, “Sweet Dreams.” The massive encore included a nod to both Guns N’ Roses as well as Survivor. It was just an amusing and entertaining show all around. Combe killed the guitar adding a new and interesting layer to their sound overall. Molitz continues to be the musical focal point with the lockstep rhythm section of Gould and Pujalet holding it all in check. Here is Particle back to their old tricks, firing on all cylinders, and truly gelling on stage. I would definitely do it all again.
For the majority of my posts I focus on bands that have played Summer Camp in the past. For this post I’d like to focus on a band that should play Summer Camp. The fact is that they are a midwestern bluegrass powerhouse, so it only makes sense for them to be at Summer Camp. That band is Trampled By Turtles.
Trampled By Turtles is a band I have been enamored with for quite some time. Despite my interest in their music and styling I was unable to catch them live, until just recently. They have a different approach to bluegrass in general. They are slampickers, playing a hard-hitting, at times startling method of bluegrass that shreds faster than some speed metal groups. They juxtapose this with some slower more traditional songs, but minced grass is their forte. Needless to say Trampled By Turtles has continued to gain popularity in Colorado, as they regularly return and almost always sell out their shows. Both nights at the Ogden were completely packed which made for tense maneuvering throughout the night.
I headed down early to see the opener honeyhoney. Other than checking out a somewhat odd music video, featuring a series of assassinations, I really knew nothing about them. Hailing from Los Angeles, honeyhoney originally formed as a duo consisting of Susanne Santo and Ben Jaffe before forming a full band. They seem to be treading a thin line between a Lucinda Williams(esque) singing and flat out alt-country. They also incorporated elements of folk and rock into their set, but during their show it wasn’t obvious that they were a great fit opening for Trampled By Turtles. Honeyhoney opened up the show around 9:15 with their original “Numb It” The clear highlight of the show was a full band sit-in from Trampled on the song from the aforementioned video, “Angel Of Death.” Their show was relatively slow given whom they were playing with, but overall honeyhoney demonstrated some solid musicianship and unique songwriting.
Trampled By Turtles took the stage for one long set around 10:30 PM. By this time the room was ass to elbow with everyone squeezing in snugly. They opened with a sweet rendition of “Alone.” From the beginning it was apparent that although they know traditional bluegrass they don’t let it define them. They are innovators and lovers of string music as they prove every time they take the stage. It wouldn’t take long for them to blast off and begin the night’s prerequisite shredding. I did notice that their songs individually lacked any sort of real dynamics. Most of their tunes start at one speed and continue at that pace until the last pluck. It appears to me that Trampled By Turtles builds tension and release through their setlists as opposed to within the context of their individual songs. It was definitely a different experience for say someone used to listening to the Grateful Dead. Their picking was solid no matter which tempo they set and I found my eyes were glued to the stage for much of the evening. A couple of covers came in the form of a bouncy “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys and “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies. Both covers were unusual choices and executed very well. The setlist gave their fans a wide array of their repertoire. This little band from Minnesota has really made good, and they will continue to draw bigger audiences as word of their amazing style spreads. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see Trampled By Turtles in some small smoky room, go ahead, punch the ticket, and take the ride.
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.
Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 8-31-12
Note: This first night’s coverage contains strong language, not because the author is crass, but because Phish is.
Fans have culled through setlists for close to three decades looking to decode the secret language of The Phish from Vermont. Themes have been discovered, but never has such a direct and blatant message been delivered to a crowd as it was on the first night of the Phish’s second tour closing run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Savvy fans had the premise nailed down by “Carini,” but as with the “S” Show on last year’s opening night many were left with the simple contentment of just seeing a good night of music. Never before has Phish spelled out a song with their setlist then played that song to close the second set. That song, “Fuck Your Face” was all but forgotten until perhaps the most massive bust out in the history of the group at Charlotte in 2010. Since then it has made a few random appearances including the now famed 8-14-10 Alpine Valley show immortalized and released on DVD. Since my noob days with my brother listening to the White Tape we have waxed philosophical about what it would be like to see it live. Well I was lucky enough to see it at Alpine and I was blessed to be the concert that can only be called the “Fuck Your Face” show at Dick’s.
SET I: First Tube, Uncle Pen, Carini> Kill Devil Falls, You Enjoy Myself*, Ocelot**, Undermind
SET II: Runaway Jim***> Farmhouse> Alaska, Chalk Dust Torture***> Emotional Rescue> Fuck Your Face****
ENCORE: Grind, Meatstick*****
*”We all love Dick’s” vocal jam theme
**Crosseyed and Painless Tease
****Emotional Rescue Quote
Harkening back to 2000 when “First Tube” was a much more common first set opener, the boys ripped into this high-octane jam to start the night. Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” which was a regular bluegrass jam in the mid-nineties filled the U spot and got the crowd wondering what they were in store for. As the dark jam of “Carini” blasted out of the PA, those keeping setlists began to get an inkling of what was in store. “Kill Devil Falls” sealed the deal the only question was, what was getting the “Fuck” treatment from Phish. It literally could have been anything. The 20-minute YEM, which was the obvious peak of the first set, included a mind-blowing “We Love Dick’s” segment that clearly stated how each member of the band loved Dick’s. Phish was having fun and so was the audience. They played a crispy “Ocelot” and a chunky “Undermind” to close set one. The setlist was left at “Fuck You.” The boys were not giving anything specific away, as well as letting those paying attention in on the joke at the same time.
Many fans have complained about the lack of jamming in the 3.0 Era. Well Phish played not one but two 6 song second sets over the weekend, the first of which came on night one. They began the set with a colossal 20-minute “Runaway Jim.” Dribbling off the map into some darker tones this “Jim” eased the crowd back into the show nicely. An unusually long “Farmhouse” was to follow that found the crowd singing in unison. The equally stretched out “Alaska” was another nice touch, and it left the fans with a clear understanding of what was happening with the setlist. One of the greatest “Chalk Dust Torture(s)” of the 3.0 blasted off into the first “Emotional Rescue” since 2000. The campy Rolling Stones cover was my highlight of the show given the fact that it was an epic first for yours truly. With the setlist spelling out complete the only thing left to do was to play the title track, “Fuck Your Face.” For the first time in the night I felt that the set closer was a bit short, but honestly it was oh so sweet.
The encore again played on the FYF theme with a “Grind” “Meatstick” duo. This show set the stage for the best Phish run in ten years. Following last year I would definitely say don’t miss a Friday Phish Fry at Dick’s. Their opening show in 2011 was for the hardcore fans as was this year. They played a once in a lifetime type show yet again and as I walked out into the smoggy Commerce City air on Friday I was left with one feeling, gratitude. Phish is playing well, having fun, and energizing crowds with spectacular concerts across the country. For two years Dick’s has had the pleasure of hosting the tour closer, and I couldn’t be happier. With two nights to go many were left with one question, “Does it get any better than this? “ We would see.
Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 9-1-12
After the epic “Fuck Your Face” show we stood at the precipice of night two at Dick’s. Before I get too deep I would like to take a moment to thank my Fort Collins crew. Robin, Scottie, Amy, and too many more to mention worked hard to make this one of the most memorable runs in my Phishstory, and I want to thank you. By all accounts this was the most standard 3.0 show of the run. Night two was basically cavalcade of greatest hits that stretched late into the night. However the most surprising element of the show may have been the first set opener. They opened with a powerful “Antelope,” which was the first time this song has filled this slot since 1990.
SET I: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down The Number Line> Tweezer> Fluffhead> Roses Are Free> Funky Bitch> The Moma Dance> When The Circus Comes To Town, Theme From the Bottom> Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
SET II: Golden Age> Prince Caspian> Light*, Boogie On Reggae Woman> The Wedge, The Horse> Silent in the Morning> Mike’s Song> No Quarter> Weekapaug Groove
ENCORE: Sleeping Money> Tweezer Reprise
*Mercy Mercy Mercy Tease (Page)
The real star of the night was the amazing segues between songs like the one between “BDTNL” and “Tweezer,” which was a crispy blast like a car shifting into fourth gear. “Tweezer” has been a staple of 3.0 and as Gordon explodes on the bass it is always a welcomed song to hear. They ripped into fifth with a darker toned segue that eventually emerged as an epic “Fluffhead.” The crowd was literally being assaulted with heavy hitters, as they stepped it up another notch with a sweet version of Ween’s “Roses Are Free.” The “Funky Bitch” into “Moma Dance” kept the crowd moving and barely let anyone breathe. The dance beats were flowing and the energy finally downshifted with “When The Circus Comes To Town.” By all means this could have been a fitting end to the first set, but they boys were not done yet. They ripped into a mighty “Theme” again segueing beautifully into the scary good “Golgi Appartus.” Again this would have been a fitting end, but Phish finally put the brakes on after “Stealing Time.” This was just a massive set of music going almost an hour and half.
The beginning of Saturday’s second set could be considered the lowest point of the weekend, which isn’t saying much considering how awesome all there shows were performed. T.V. On The Radio’s “Golden Age” seems to be a band favorite, but not necessarily a crowd favorite. “Caspian” is another simple song that has the possibility to be a great vehicle for jam, but did not reach it’s full potential at Dick’s.
“Light” however most certainly did. This song has become a huge tool for Phish to travel into the unknown, and this version stretched well into the twenty-three minute range. “Light” eventually emerged into a bouncy “Boogie On Reggae Woman” that woke up the crowd after the extended jam. “The Wedge” is a common song out here in Colorado, given its subject matter so it was an on obvious choice. “The Horse” into “Silent” came next and Page sang brilliantly for the enthralled crowd. Again they could have ended there but the best was yet to come. Fans were treated to an unusual “Mike’s Groove” with Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” filling the space usually reserved for “I Am Hydrogen.” This was by far the highlight of the night, showing the sleekness of the band and showcasing their ability to still think outside the box.
The encore was an almost standard “Sleeping Monkey” into “Tweeprise.” I think the energy of the crowd combined with the sparks of brilliance from the band will be the hallmark of this show. It was literally a “best of” type concert that at times veered a little off course. It was a great experience nonetheless and it really did set the stage for the tour closing night on Sunday.
After two glorious nights at Dick’s it was time to say goodbye to The Phish from Vermont. It was also the band’s last stop of Summer Tour 2012 meaning everyone in attendance was in for a big show. Having been spoiled for the last two years with three-night finales, I can honestly say I hope they continue to shut it down at Dick’s. The band is at their most fluid musically and they want to have a little more fun before the nail hits the coffin.
Phish opened with a bouncy “Cars Trucks Busses,” to get the night started smoothly.
SET I: Cars Trucks Busses, AC/DC Bag> Down with Disease, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane> Sample In a Jar, Back on the Train> Rift> Free, Ride Captain Ride> Maze, Halley’s Comet> 46 Days> Possum
SET II: Sand> Ghost> Piper> Twenty Years Later> The Lizards, Harry Hood
ENCORE: Character Zero
Just looking at the setlist tells even the most nascent of enthusiasts, that this was a barnburner. Chunky first set for the ADD fan with nothing really getting into the “deep cut” territory, and a jam-infused six song second set. It’s basically an all you can eat buffet of Phish, reaching across their entire catalog. “AC/DC Bag” into “Down With A Disease felt a bit rushed from what we had experienced on nights one and two. The “Bathtub Gin” stretched into decent length before a bluegrass blast off with “Nellie Kane.” The crowd seemed utterly energized, everyone was there to have a good time and leave it all out on the dance floor. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The “Sample in a Jar” was crispy and clean as was the “Back On The Train.” There was a fluid break into “Rift” ending with a single beat transfer to “Free.” They’re just a band firing on all cylinders, and they continue to raise the bar year after year. It’s been an interesting journey during the 3.0 era, listening to recordings, couch touring, and catching the off weekend here and there. Phish has really blossomed and it’s obvious that they are playing diverse shows, having fun, and continuing to tour every year. I couldn’t be happier with their playing as of late, and it makes me excited for the next time I’m lucky enough to see them live. Up next was a rare performance of “Ride Captain Ride” originally by Blues Image. Page’s buttery vocals took the lead through this crowd pleaser, before the song took an eerie turn eventually taking shape with the familiar beat of “Maze.” It was a solid version that finally showed the group stepping into a deeper jam, and also many including myself thought that was the end of the first set. We were greeted with a red-hot three song closer including a cozy “Halley’s Comet” into “46 Days” into an explosive “Possum.”
The second set would open with the most exploratory adventure of the night; the twenty-four plus minute “Sand.” This was Phish at their finest passing around the lead like a hot potato, dribbling into the ether before breaking into a funky riff that stretched on. The song peaked with a fiery Trey solo that snapped back into the close of “Sand” before we all stepped over the precipice into a dark “Ghost.” These two songs were as far as we got down the rabbit hole on Sunday clocking in at almost forty-minutes combined. Phish caught their breath with a huge “Piper” followed by a straightforward “Twenty Years Later.” The real treat of the second set was “The Lizards” which washed over the audience like a cool breeze. They closed the second set with a transcendental “Harry Hood” that finished with an extended thank you from Trey, Page, Mike, and Fish and Trey ending by saying “Fuck Your Face.” All in all the it was our second six-song set of the weekend, proving to me that Phish is most definitely willing to kick off the training wheels and just jam. They encored with a quick but appropriate “Character Zero.” It was just a joy-filled weekend with old friends and Phish as the ultimate soundtrack. It’s amazing to look back on the weekend and see how this band continues to reunite me so many old friends. It’s not uncommon for me to be at any given show and see people that I haven’t seen in almost a decade. This weekend was no exception, not to mention the twentish or so group of extended phamily riding the bus to and from Fort Collins each night. We did it right this year and thanks again to all who helped to make this an incredible weekend. Let’s do it again next year.
Save for a few puppy pulling wookies dogs are rarely allowed at concerts. At Summer Camp you see the occasional service dog, but for the most part festivals have a strict no dogs allowed policy. This is most definitely not the case at the Bark and Bluegrass Festival in Fort Collins. In fact the dogs are the honored guests with pools and volunteers passing out treats, it is obvious that dogs are most definitely welcome. This is my second year in attendance and of course my dog’s second show. Set in the Civic Center Park in Fort Collins, this is their third year putting on the show to benefit the Larimer Humane Society. This year was a step back from last year’s two-day event with one night of music and a more centralized lineup. Headlined by Emmitt-Nershi Band there was plenty of music and fun to fill up an entire day. All of the members of Emmitt-Nershi have performed at Summer Camp save for bassists Johnny Grubb. Billy with Honky Tonk Homeslice in 2006, Drew Emmitt and Andy Thorn this year with Leftover Salmon have taken the stage in Chillicothe.
I was flying in from Vermont for work, so I raced up to town to catch Bluegrass Delta Force at 4 PM. The Bluegrass Delta Force are a traditional string group that really impressed. Former WhiteWater Ramble fiddle player Adam Galblum was prominent in their mix, which was nice. As a group they are incorporating great talent and awesome song selection. They were given a hour and a half slot to play meaning they really got to stretch their musical legs in the show and really show the crowd whey they were all about. The highlight of their set was a version of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” sung by bassist Andrew Bonnis.
For anyone who has been to Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins it’s likely that you saw a stout beardo behind the soundboard, what many including myself did not know is that Jeremy Grant fronts the band Turn 4. This Greely based act was a blend of rockabilly, alt country, and bluegrass. They have an intense style to their playing while maintaining solid musicianship. Taking influence from Dylan, Tom Waits, Rolling Stones, and Waylon Jennings, it’s obvious to anyone watching that they are a personified tapestry of all of their heroes. Along with a slew of originals they also busted out their version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar.”
As the sun set over the park it was time for the Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident intermingle Emmitt-Nershi Band. The raw talent of this group is enough get any fan excited, not to mention the fact that the group also includes banjo master Andy Thorn as well as John Grubb on bass. This was my first time seeing them with Grubb and he held down the beat incredibly well. Save for one or two ENB songs, the setlist was mainly comprised of Salmon and Cheese tunes which really seemed to delight the crowd. They opened with “Gold Hill Line” Additional highlights of their almost two hour set included a massive “Restless Wind”, a beautifully Emmitt sung “Down In The Hollow”, and a popping version of “Johnny Cash”. This was by far the best show I’ve seen from EMB and I was incredibly happy they were chosen to headline this fest. Bark and Bluegrass is such a unusual premise for a festival. Sitting beside my pup and listening to some incredible bluegrass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins. They encored with a fun and relaxed “Barstools.” I would highly recommend to any pet or music lover to make the trek to Bark and Bluegrass. It is truly a unique event in Northern Colorado.
After witnessing an amazing set at Summer Camp from Banyan featuring Stephen Perkins and Willie Waldman, I was happy to see Mr. Waldman was on his way to Denver. This set was a bit different as it featured four incredible live painters performing with the band. This year Summer Camp invited several artists to paint at the festival and it really adds a bit of spice to the experience. In a way this show was much like a mini-fest in an evening.
The last time live painters Bukaty, Wisdom, Callerman, and Keener were together was as the Kanrocksas Music Festival. This time around they were painting a Free Jazz performance from Willie Waldman Project. WWP is a group that morphs on the regular taking on different members based on locale and availability. This time around the musicians consisted of Willie on trumpet, Brian Jordan on guitar, Cory Kertzie on drums, and Garrett Sayers on bass. A tight group to be sure, but the night also had its fair share of surprises.
I arrived early and met with the band for an interview. I wanted to dive into the collaboration between the live painters and the musicians. I have been seeing Wisdom paint with Waldman for ten years now and the most interesting element of his painting is his reliance on the performance rather than the final product on the canvas. He paints on an illuminated background and when he is done he takes a picture and wipes it away. The impermanence of his art is mind-boggling. Bukaty has a flowing, sometimes frenzied style, however as of late he has opted to really let the music dictate his work. Don Callerman, also known as the “House Painter” at Quixotes ranges from linear impressionism to more direct representational pieces. Laurie Keener does some incredible caricatures of the musicians and is well known for the way she depicts not only the performers but also their instruments.
So with the painters in “Quadraphonic Surround Sound” in place it was tine for the set to get underway. As they started there was only about thirty souls gathered on the newly renovated patio at Quixotes. I have to point out that the light turnout had to do with the fact that the show was poorly promoted. For the caliber of music and level of talent of artists painting it was most definitely a shame that not more people made it out. The lack of attendence did little to detract from the musical performance or the artists. I guess what I’m saying is that the music was absolutely top notch. Willie was not only the bandleader but also his soulful trumpet acted as the glue that tied the act together. Brian Jordan is simply stellar, working with a wide range of musical styles he pulled out all the stops on his guitar throughout the two set show. The dynamism between Sayers and Kertzie built over the course of the entire evening. Kertzie is a monster on the kit and working with someone as accomplished as Garrett really gave him the room to shine. The paint splattered on the canvases as the group flowed in and out of Latin, world, jazz, and rock soundscapes. There are no setlists really, as it is all improvised; however you can listen to the tape from Kind Recordings on Archive.
The second set saw more surprises including a sit-in from Cecil “Pnut” Daniels who stopped by after playing a Thursday set at the Highland Tap. Not only have Wednesdays with Garrett Sayers Trio become incredibly popular, but Thursdays are also hosting live music as well. He plays a Midi Horn that looks almost like a toy saxophone; however the music he created was anything but child’s play. I had heard of Daniels, but this was my first chance seeing him live and it was a great addition to the night’s performance. Another gentleman stepped up to the microphone for a version of “Big Boss Man,” which got the small crowd dancing on the patio. All in all it was a great night of music that made me wish more people had the pleasure of seeing. When Willie has a backing band that is made up of quality musicians he can really rip on the trumpet. I would go so far as to say that the band was as good as any group I’ve seen him with. It was a lot of fun, and I would love to see this exact lineup again and again.
After shooting Bob Weir with Chris Robinson and Jackie Greene at Summer Camp, I was incredibly excited to see them at my summer home, Mishawaka. For those that don’t know, The Mishawaka is a gem in the Poudre Canyon which holds just around 800 people. It’s like a rustic log cabin of a stage set on a flowing river. It is a picturesque bucket of love. Amy and I took the early bus up and there was already a nice sized crowd getting set for this acoustic blowout. The three troubadours took the stage with a beautiful “Bertha.”
SET I: Bertha, Friend of the Devil, Oh Boy!, Deep River Blues, I Don’t Live In A Dream*, Tell Me Mama Tell Me Right*, Sunday Sound**, Appaloosa**, Blackbird***, Jack Straw***, I Am A Pilgrim, Tennessee Jed
SET II: Goin’ To Acapulco, Big Boss Man, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Poor Elijah, Dear Prudence, China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider
ENCORE: Uncle John’s Band
*Jackie Greene Solo
**Chris Robinson Solo
***Bob Weir Solo
This show had a laid back vibe and a relaxed delivery that demonstrated Bobby’s softer side. If Further is a high octane burn through all things Grateful Dead, then this project is the dancing bear in the rocking chair. After a quick three-song slash that included the classic “Friend of the Devil” the band broke up for each member to take a turn solo. Jackie Greene was up first with a pair of originals starting with his take on modern realism “I Don’t Live In A Dream” and his star-crossed love song “Tell Me Mama Tell Me Right.” Jackie is an amazing protégée of Dead music, but it’s awesome to see him singing in his own voice.
Chris Robinson was next to the stage with a pair of self-penned tunes. “Sunday Sound” and “Appaloosa” which both felt appropriate for a Sunday in the mountains. Finally it was Bobby’s turn and his two unaccompanied songs were a distinct highlight from the entire show. Starting with a beautiful rendition of The Beatles “Blackbird” I absolutely got chills from this performance. He opted for an amazing “Jack Straw,” a song the may have lent itself to the dynamic between the three, but Bobby simply nailed it for the crowd at Mishawaka. They closed out the first set with a stellar “Tennessee Jed,” which really got the crowd pumped for the remainder of the show.
The second set began with a cover of Dylan’s “Goin’ To Acapulco.” They have such a great body of acoustic work to pull from so it was nice to see a Dylan tune in the mix. “Big Boss Man” was a powerful version and really showed how amazing these three musicians really are together. I have to say seeing Bobby with both Jackie Greene and Chris Robinson in such a small venue I was almost star struck, which is a rare occurrence for me. “Nobody’s Fault” a traditional gospel tune made famous by Led Zeppelin was another great choice from the band. This was a broken down version that was fun to hear. They ripped up a solid “Poor Elijah” before going into yet another Beatles’ cover with “Dear Prudence.” At this point I was blown away, but they closed out their second set with a quality “China Cat” “Rider.” They encored with another Dead deep cut with “Uncle John’s Band.” The entire show was everything you could want from this lineup. Wonderful Dead tunes mixed with some rare covers made my second night with Weir Robinson Greene amazing. This night at The Mish was enough to fill anyone’s hear with goodness.
Note: The Mishawaka is currently in danger from the High Point Fire. Please send your positive thoughts in their direction. You can also contact the Red Cross to volunteer or to send donations.