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.
Check out the video blog here:
I was also lucky enough to interview Todd Stoops. Check out the interview here:
With the departure of Vince Herman to greener pastures in Oregon, the region has experienced a deficit in the random acts of music he would regularly bestow upon our community. He was a regular fixture in Ned, his former home, and down on The Front Range. It would be difficult not to find Vince Herman playing somewhere on any given weekend in Colorado. Now Vince is a commodity, so I made it point to head down to see Great American Taxi at the Aggie Theater. As fate would have it they were recording the entire run for an upcoming live album.
Up first were Bonnie And The Clydes, a six-piece country and rock outfit lead by Miss Bonnie Sims. They opened with “Dear Departed.”
Set 1: Dear Departed, My Love Will Keep, Lonely Love, Eye To Eye, Storm On Its Way, Rocky Mountain Town, Waltz For The Seasons, LA County, Man In Me, Darkside, Still House, Ophelia, Hold On Me
Relatively new to scene, Bonnie And The Clydes are an interesting addition to the already bountiful music of the Front Range. They are lead by firecracker Bonnie Sims, who belts it out as well as she plays a six string. She is flanked by a full band consisting of her husband Taylor Sims on electric guitar, Nancy Steinberger on fiddle, Michael Schenkleberg on bass, Chris Ramey on pedal steel, and Damon Smith on drums. Their renditions of Dylan’s “Man In Me” and The Band’s “Ophelia were spot on and really got the crowd moving. They had a rowdy tone that was a perfect fit for Great American Taxi.
Great American Taxi is the side project of Leftover Salmon front man Vince Herman. He has assembled an incredible lineup of musicians to fill out his group. In addition to Vince Taxi is Chad Staehly on keys, Jim Lewin on guitar, Brian Adams on bass, and Chris Sheldon on drums. They really seemed to have gelled since I saw them last summer. This show being part of the Snowball Tour it was the first time Vince has made it back since moving out of state. Honestly, it could have gone either way. They opened with their original “Standing All Alone.”
Set 1:Standing All Alone, Appalachian Soul, New Millennium Blues, Linning Track, Penny Arcade, Jack London, Twilight, Swamp Song, Going To Brownsville, Tough Job, Angel Dust, Poor House, Coming Home To You, Travlin’ Man, West L.A. Fadeaway, Little Liza Jane, Dirty Old Town, Instrumental, Reckless Habits, Cold Lonely Town, Great American Taxi, When I Die, Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow
Encore: Good Night To Boogie
For a Taxi fan this show has absolutely everything you could want in a live show. Their mix of bluegrass, Americana, and rock is so approachable it seems impossible not to have fun seeing them live. Songs like “Appalachian Soul” and “Poor House” address real issues in American society like the working conditions in the coal mining industry as well as the plight of the impoverished in this country. Great American Taxi really has evolved and it’s great to see them playing at this level. Their covers included everything from Leadbelly’s “Linning Track” to Ry Cooder’s “Going Down To Brownsville” to the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway.” It really was a fun and musically eclectic night. They closed the set with their version of the Flatt & Scruggs classic “Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow.” Great American Taxi encored with “Good Night To Boogie.” With the departure of Vince to Portlandia it’s even more important for him to come back to the Front Range with memorable shows. That is exactly what Great American Taxi accomplished on their swing through the Aggie. With the live recording coming out, it will be awesome to get a greatest hits album from such a solid run
It was a big night in Fort Collins. The Aggie brought in an impressive lineup consisting of some of the best jazz and funk artists touring today. Hodi’s was celebrating their grand re-opening under new ownership with Dave Watts and Friends (aka The Motet) and free beer. The people that wanted to party headed to Hodi’s, the music fans went to The Aggie. I honestly would have loved to catch both, but the amazing music unfolding before my eyes kept me from moving on.
Up first was Garrett Sayers Trio lead by bass virtuoso and local phenom Mr. Garrett Sayers. This lineup consisting of Garrett on bass, Patrick Lee on keys, and Johnny Jyemo on drums has had a longstanding Wednesday night residency at the Highland Tap & Burger. They have intrigued me for a long time, but this was my first chance catching them live. GS3 took the stage around 9:15 and dazzled the crowd for just short of an hour. It was a rollercoaster ride with this nimble trio weaving together a massive sound for such a tight unit. The diversity within the GS3, was evident from the beginning. Each member of the band seems to be coming from distinctly different musical backgrounds. The result was this amazing blending of funk, jam, jazz, R & B, and so much more percolated in and out of every song. Garrett Sayers Trio is an instrumental band as were all the bands on the bill minus Kung Fu who will occasionally feature a song with vocals. There is something freeing about going to see an instrumental band. The show doesn’t get all convoluted with silly things like lyrics. I’m being facetious but it really does allow the audience to focus strictly on the music. It was impossible not to focus on GS3 as all three members wowed the slowly growing crowd. They finished their remarkable set and headed down the road where Garrett joined his Motet band mates for their gig at Hodi’s. He really is a hard worker.
Kind Recordings has the show up on Archive. Thanks to Corey for taping the show. http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/gstrio2013-01-24.fob.mc803.kindrec
Last year jam super group Kung Fu made several visits to Colorado, and they definitely made an impression. This time they were on a 5-day mission from God that took them from Aspen through Breckenridge and down to the Front Range. This was night three of that run and their set again came in at just under an hour was truly mind melting. While the Aggie was only about a third full, I was impressed with the variety of people in the crowd. I chatted with a couple of older gentlemen who had won tickets off of the radio with little knowledge of what was in store for them. I saw young college kids mingling with middle-aged hipsters. Perhaps the most alarming thing about this show was the distinct lack of chatter during the show. As you can hear in the recordings, people were definitely there to see the music. Kung Fu is Tim Palmieri on guitar (The Breakfast), Robert Somerville on tenor sax (Deep Banana Blackout), Todd Stoops on keyboards (RAQ), Christopher DeAngelis on bass guitar (The Breakfast), and Adrian Tramontano on drums/percussion (The Breakfast). This is truly a powerhouse lineup that did not disappoint. They opened with “Do The Right Thing.”
Set 1: Do The Right Thing, Snaggle, Scapegoat Blues> Letters From Bobby Portugal> Hollywood Kisses, Chakrabarty Overdrive
Kung Fu is a hard-hitting amalgamation of funk-fueled fire assaulting the senses of all those who dare to enter the ring. It’s a constant onslaught from Palmieri who literally had to have a stagehand douse him with an extinguisher after his massive solo during “Scapegoat Blues.” “Hollywood Blues” was the only song of the entire evening that featured vocals. They closed their ‘not long enough’ set with “Chakrabarty Overdrive” which as it’s name would insinuate caused me to need to go outside for some air. Keep coming back Kung Fu, and keep playing bigger and bigger shows. Colorado needs your brand of funky goodness.
Finally it was time for the B3 master himself Robert Walter to take the stage with his 20th Congress. Now this band has had several incarnations and has a rotating list of members. Fans at The Aggie were treated to a stunning lineup consisting of Cheme Gastelum (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings), Chris Stillwell (Greyboy Allstars), and Simon Lott (Charlie Hunter Trio). Just unbelievable. They opened with a gritty “Hunk.”
Set 1: Hunk, Snakes & Spiders, Cory’s Snail and Slug Death, Sweetie Pie, Dog Party, He’s Really Gone, Rivers of Babylon, Get Thy Bearings, Who Took the Happiness Out?, Fox Hunting, Don’t Chin The Dog, Impervious, Instant Karma
Encore: Don’t Hate Congratulate
Robert Walter is best known for his work with Greyboy Allstars, however his solo band is truly not to be missed. I really felt that it has been such a long gap between his tours, that many are no longer in the know. And it’s too bad really, because the show we received from this lineup was nothing short of top notch. The lack of guitar really put the focus on Walter and Gastelum and their interplay was outstanding. The highlight of the show for me was the Phantom of the Opera-esque intro to the instrumental “Rivers Of Babylon.” They closed their set with a massive jam on Lennon’s “Instant Karma.” This is the caliber of music I would like to see more of on The Front Range. Despite the conflicting shows, I feel I made the right choice and left feeling musically satisfied in a way that I have not been in quite some time. Watching truly gifted musicians jam together is the reason I started really covering live shows. Seeing this stellar lineup on a Thursday night in Fort Collins just validates that decision.
It’s that mushy gushy time of year again, everyone’s favorite played-out Hallmark holiday filled with stuffed guerillas that sing Ray Charles songs, little boxes of Whitman’s Chocolates, candles, bubble-baths…you know what I’m talking about. And if all of those things make you want to barf as much as they do me, then maybe you’ll consider doing something a little less traditional and skip the $25 ahi tuna and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Pull out yer dancing shoes and hop in the car for a lil’ romantic east coast getaway with Summer Camp warriors and veterans moe. in Raleigh, NC this year! (hell, and bring the chocolate covered strawberries too)! What would possibly make your lover’s soul shine and cheeks glow more than a night of full-on, feel-good boogyin together!
That’s my plan this year. Funny story: While attending to official Summer Camp Counselor biz-nass at last year’s fest, I met an amazing guy named Billy Ray who lives in Raleigh, NC and is a die-hard moe. fan! I mean, he’s seen them over 100 times now! Seriously! They even gave him a shout out and did a little song and dance at his 100th! Since I live in Asheville, NC, we’ve actually hung out a few times since Scamp (once to catch moe. in Nashville, TN of course)! So, when he told me that his all time favorite jam gods were going to be rippin’ in Raleigh for V-Day, I was like, “Man, that’s a dream come true right there.” That would be like Umphrey’s McGee playing in my own back yard on my birthday
And don’t you fret your sweet little heart if you can’t make it out on a Thursday night because they’re following that show up with a night in Charlotte, NC on Friday then on to rage in Georgia the Saturday after. Of course, you can catch the official schedule here: http://moe.org/tour They’ve been killing it lately so don’t wait all the way ’til Scamp 2013 (even though it’s not far away) to get down with these guys. As my friend Billy Ray would say, “Bam!” (aka: Doooo it)
Hope to see you lovers, spinners, freaks and moe-rons at the show!
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.
Assembly Of Dust is a rare but welcomed sight on the Front Range. They have been a regular of Summer Camp performing there twice as well as all the other moe.-hosted festivals. I would love to see them back on the lineup in the future. The brainchild of bandleader Reid Genauer, Assembly Of Dust is a more refined and focused project than the jam-centric Strangefolk (Reid’s first group.) The last time AOD made it to Denver it was part of a co-bill with Emmitt-Nershi Band at The Bluebird on 10/16/09. It has been over three years since their last visit and I was not going to miss their triumphant return. Their return coincided with the Broncos playoff bid against the Ravens. I was glued to the game all afternoon as both teams battled back and forth. Finally at the two-minute warning I hopped in my car to beat the after game traffic. When I arrived at the venue the game was in overtime and in the end the Broncos were defeated. There was a stench of disappointment on the streets of Denver that night. Not to mention that the temperature quickly dipped well into the single digits as the sun crept over the mountains.
Prior to the show a taper friend had arranged to record the entire concert with a multi-cam, 24-track recording. Reid offered to do an interview and he contacted me to help with the shoot. I got the opportunity to sit down with Reid and talk for about twenty minutes after their sound check. We talked about everything from his latest Kickstarter Campaign to his random admiration of Lady GaGa. Stay tuned for that content, which will be posted soon.
West Water Outlaws opened up the show with their brand of rowdy rock that seemed to start and end at 11. Another product of the ever evolving, always intriguing Boulder music scene, West Water Outlaws took the stage authoritatively. Reminiscent of a young Getty Lee lead singer and rhythm guitarist Blake “Whiskey” Rooker definitely commanded attention when belted out his prodigious vocals. It would appear that bands like The Congress are blazing the trail for a younger group of musicians who still value a solid rock sound.
Set 1: Looking Back, Meds, Credo, Dead Broke, Come On, Sledge Monster, Sun Also Rises, Things I Meant To Say, New Canoe
Blending bluesy riffs with searing vocals made for an entertaining display. I would say to keep an eye out for them, but given their energy, chances are they’ll find you at a venue soon. As the West Water Outlaws played, people slowly filtered into the cavernous Summit Music Hall from the cold. The room holds 1100 people and normally hosts metal and hardcore shows. I actually found the room to be pretty solid and would like to see more jam type shows booked here.
Assembly Of Dust took the stage around 10:20 PM. They immediately woke up the crowd with their anthem “Songs We Sing.”
Set 1: Songs We Sing, Weehawken Ferry, Westerly, Paul Henry, Arkansas Down, Burned Down, Elixir, Sun Shot, Spectacular
Set 2: Whistle Clock, Fountain, Lost & Amazed, Songbeard, 40 Reasons, Mama, Harrower
Encore: Bus Driver
Assembly Of Dust is a nonstop musical journey through all things acoustic, rocks, blues, and so much more. Reid’s stellar vocals anchor the group and allow for each of his incredibly talented band mates to really wail. “Weehawken Ferry” hit us with some rolling, rambling jamming featuring some searing guitar work from Adam Terrell who was on fire all night long. “Paul Henry” gave bassist John Lecesse a chance to rip it up nicely. Genauer lyrics are so expressive and conjure incredible images in the mind of his listeners. “Arkansas Down” falls into this category, as Reid took us all on a narrative journey. The elastic “Burned Down” became an all out dance party. Fans literally hugged the rail and flailed wildly in the side spaces. The room although large was probably only one third full, which meant the floor was full, but there was plenty of room to maneuver.
Newcomer to the band Jason Crosby, another multi-instrumentalists, spends most of his time on the keys, but can quickly bust out a fiddle for added musical textures. When Nate Wilson left the band in 2008 they didn’t immediately go out and hire another keyboardist. The members of Assembly Of Dust wanted something to happen more organically. So they toured as a four-piece until they met up with Jason Crosby and he fit the mold. And let me just say that he fits the mold exceptionally well. Next up AOD performed “Sun Shot” the title track to their upcoming Kickstarter funded album, before they closed the set with an awesome “Spectacular.”
Assembly of Dust opened up their second set with their Deadesque “Whistle Stop,” which was a nice way to ease into the second half of the show. Terrell’s guitar again soared on “Fountain,” before the audience was treated to the sublime lyrics of “Lost & Amazed.” “40 Reasons” again was a nice touch, but the beautiful “Mama” may have been the understated highlight of the show. They closed the second set with a rowdy take on “Harrower.” Assembly Of Dust encored with the too fun “Bus Driver.” This is exactly what you can expect from AOD every time; a solid show from mind-blowing musicians. Reid’s journey into adulthood has given him some compelling experiences, which he translates into his songwriting. He has a truly unique style that reeks of creativity. Assembly Of Dust may not be incredibly well known in Denver, but those that are in the know would never miss seeing Assembly Of Dust when they come to town. Find out why.
As we age in the scene, the generations change and the music evolves. Summer Camp seems to develop by leaps and bounds every year. With a lineup of over 100 musical acts offered they are constantly bringing in new groups and continuing to be an innovator in the festival scene. This year Jay Goldberg is bringing in Phish front man Trey Anastasio along with the regular cast of characters including moe., Umphrey’s McGee and so much more. As we approach the thirteenth Summer Camp it really feels like a whole new ballgame. Younger fans hopping on the bus, different styles of music all getting a chance on the array of stages, and additionally so many incredible events taking place all over the grounds throughout the four days beyond the music. They all combine to make Summer Camp one of the leading festivals in the country. As Summer Camp finds itself on the cusp of a new era, I found myself reflecting on the festival at a local show. On a recent frigid night out in Fort Collins I headed out to see Gipsy Moon.
Gipsy Moon represents a turning of the page for Americana and Gypsy Bluegrass. I’ve seen Silas Herman, son of famed front man and Summer Camp veteran Vince Herman, perform with Leftover Salmon several times. Gipsy Moon is his current foray into a touring band. Seeing the son of a musician that I admire so much, performing on his own is what got me thinking about the future of music and current state of affairs within the scene.
Gipsy Moon consists of multi-talented, multi-instrumentalists. Silas flanks live painter and singer, Mackenzie Page, who belts it out as well as she handles a paint brush. David Matters is a singer/songwriter who plays banjo as well as the guitar. Finally, Collin Huff holds it all down on bass. We arrived as Gipsy Moon was beginning their set at Avogadro’s Number. Avo’s is a series of three rooms divided by purpose. The first is a bar, the second is a quaint music venue, and the third is a restaurant. Inside the band performed for a small crowd already seated in the middle of the room. We came to find out the show was a bit of a homecoming for Page with many of her family and friends filling out the crowd. They opened up the night with “Ramblin’.”
Set One: Ramblin’, Little Maggie, Seven Seas, Autumn Leaves, The New Thing, Cowboy Vessel, Dark Eyes, Long Time Comin’, Away We Go, Trumpet and the Drum, Nocturnal, Swallow Tail Jig, Sweet Thing, Independence Day, Pensl-tucky, Angeline the Baker / Chinquipin Hunting, House of The Rising Sun, Hunger, Right Before The Dawn
The Gipsy Moon show was a mix of originals and traditional bluegrass style covers. They dub themselves “Gipsygrass” and their entire delivery had a free flowing style that was incredibly inviting. They each took turns at the microphone and mixed up the instrumentation often. Matters had a nice vocal range that harmonized nicely with Page who at times shook the room with her powerful delivery. Silas simply shredded the mandolin throughout the set even though he at times seemed to shy away from the spotlight. Covering everything from Russian and Irish folk songs to a smoking version of “House Of The Rising Sun” Gipsy Moon really demonstrated their range and ability. All in all it was a relaxing night of music with some talented musicians from Nederland. I foresee big things from this band; I hope they continue to venture down from the mountains to play for the masses on the Front Range. As I headed back home I was truly inspired by this new generation of musicians and it got me excited about Summer Camp this year. The art, music, and people will all be off the hook this year. I look forward to yet another amazing time in the heart of Illinois.
moe. made their jubilant return to Denver, as makeup for two missed shows in July. Their drummer Vinnie Amico came down with a case of mono, and they had to postponed several shows at the end of the summer tour. The wait was long but worthwhile, as the shows added openers for both nights that included local favorites YAMN and The Congress.
YAMN has been in Jam Band Purgatory and are just back from a yearlong hiatus. New to the group is Paul Evans on keyboards, which is part of the reason for the extended absence from the scene. One would expect some jitters or general nervousness from the band considering the time since their last show. Quite the opposite was true, with YAMN coming out as the consummate showmen and blasting through a smoking opening set.
Set I: Burner, Apparition, Floating Leave, Low Gravity, Ricochet, Home Sweet Home^
^w Chuck Garvey
As the opener for a band like moe., it’s important to hit it hard. With lots of potential new fans in the audience and only forty-five minutes to play, it’s important to make an impression quickly. That’s exactly what Yamn did at the Ogden. Soaring through the various sounds of jam and incorporating riff-y electronic effects, YAMN wowed the early arrivers. They proved to the crowd that they are still a force to contend with on the local scene. Given their absence they couldn’t have asked for a better show to reintroduce themselves to the hometown crowd. The highlight was a Chuck Garvey sit-in on Motely Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” Yamn is known for their random covers of classic rock tunes, but this was an unexpected treat.
After a short set break the five guys named moe. took the stage looking a bit more Grizzly Adams than usual. Al stepped up to his guitar donning a salt and pepper beard and Rob came out looking generally unshaven. They opened with a classic “Graffenberg.”
Set I: Dr. Graffenberg, Hi and Lo> The Pit, Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Deep This Time, Recreational Chemistry
Set II: Silver Sun> Puebla> Interstellar Overdrive> Head, Awesome Gary> Brent Black*
ENCORE: Four> The Ghost Of Ralph’s Mom
*Rob Teased the “Peanuts Theme Song” during his bass solo while wearing a Storm Trooper mask.
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
“DG” stretched on into the realm of spacey with a huge solo from Al before the song melted down into a pleasant “Hi and Lo.” I like this set placement, it was a bit of a step back from “Graffenberg,” but it fit in nicely. From there they broke into the darkly, stunning “The Pit.” By this point I had made it back from the photo pit to Amy and company located to the right of the soundboard. There was an over enthused girl to my right who upon my arrival collapsed into a seizure. Amy and I caught her and braced her as several slacked-jawed gawkers gazed on in bewilderment. I finally said, “Someone go get help,” at which point the girl snapped awake and a yellow jacketed security guard took her away. Not the best way to start a show. The familiar beat of “Not Coming Down” brought the show back into focus before the band took a mid-set breather with a classy “Wormwood.” From the tranquil solitude of “Wormwood” the band emerged with Rob taking the microphone on a straightforward “Deep This Time.” “Recreational Chemistry” was anything but straightforward. Stretching on to almost 25 minutes, and again seeing Al participating in an absolute shred fest, and Jim killing it on the vibes; it was an amazing way to end the first set. One can only assume that the extended “Rec Chem” was a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado.
moe. came back with a gorgeous “Silver Sun” that morphed into an dark rhythmic back and forth. The hallmark of the second set would be long jams with limited singing. It really felt like the boys just wanted to play. “Puebla” reached the ten-minute mark and continued on the darker path. moe. followed up with a massive version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” This was a track they used to play a lot in the mid to late nineties and gets tossed into the rotation a couple times a year. It’s always a nice song to catch and this version just builds spectacularly. “Head” exploded out of the Syd Barrett classic with the .rons going nuts., but “Awesome Gary” into “Brent Black” was the highlight of the entire show. The “Brent Black” featured a nice drum solo before Rob returned to the stage, donned a Storm Trooper mask, and delivered one of the most amazing bass solos I’ve seen from him. His solo included a holiday wink to the crowd in the form a “Peanuts Theme Song” tease. The band returned to the stage to finish out “BB” and thus the second set.
moe. came back with a tasty “Four” into a brief “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” encore to end the first night at The Ogden. With the opener moe. pushed right up against the 2 AM curfew, but managed to squeak this one out at the buzzer. This was a solid show that ventured into the realm of space and deep jam throughout both sets. It definitely felt like the show for the fans. Night two would prove to be a show more suited for the masses.