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Archive for the ‘Phish’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 21, 2021] Trey Anastasio

I was quite surprised to see that the last time I saw the Trey Anastasio Band was five years ago.  It didn’t feel that long at all.

Even though Trey plays some Phish songs, a TAB show doesn’t feel like a Phish show.  Mostly because there’s a horn section, but also because of the general feeling that TAB conveys–more grooving, less jamming.

But really, I went last time and I went this time because I never get up close to the stage at a Phish show but I knew I could get up close here.  And I did.

The show was supposed to start at 7 and with my work commute I decided to head into Philly right after work.  This allowed me to swing into Federal Donuts and then get to The Met in plenty of time.  I managed to get one of the evening’s (cool) posters and took my place right behind the people who were up at the fence.  Incidentally the guy in front of me was hilarious about his personal space.  He didn’t want anyone standing next to him while he sat on the floor and when someone squeezed past him to get to the fence he more or less shooed the guy away.  He never raised his voice, but he was a pretty intense. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 15, 2021] Phish

I got home at an absurdly late hour on Sunday morning and then spent a day prepping to head right back down to Atlantic City for night 2 (for me).  There was the threat of rain, but it held off until after the show.

Having already been to this venue I had a better feel for where I wanted to stand.  I also thought that the sound was a lot worse tonight.  Possibly because the wind was blowing off the ocean–maybe causing some of the sound to get lost.  Or, and this seems more likely, I was standing a little further away and I think the sound was echoing off some of the other buildings in a different way. Whatever the case, Trey’s guitar seemed to come and go for me.  But I haven’t heard anyone else say anything, so it must have been where I was standing.

Nevertheless, it was a great set with some wonderful deep cuts for me to check off.  I may not have checked off a ton of songs from my “gotta see list,” but in the two shows, they played 18 songs I hadn’t seen live before.  That’s pretty wild. (more…)

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[ATTENDED [some]: August 14, 2021] Garcia Peoples

A few days before the Phish show in Atlantic City, Garcia Peoples announced that they’d be playing a free show in the Showboat Casino after the show.  Their set started at 11:30.  Phish ended a little after 11.  But realistically there was no way to get to the Showboat for 11:30.

I was prepared though and walked to the far exit where there were fewer people  But it’s still over half a mile away.  So I arrived at the stage sometime before midnight.  They were mid-song and they sounded great.

There were about three other people there and we settled in and enjoyed the music.  Slowly over the course of the next thirty minutes, more people showed up and some even started dancing.

I recognized some of the songs, like “World’s Illusion” and I’m quite certain that they played a bunch of new songs as well–they have a new album in the works.  They also did a few extended jams, which were really great. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 30, 2019] Phish

Atlantic City is not a convenient location for me–2 hours at best.  And yet when Phish announced a three night residency on the back in 2020, I jumped at the tickets.  Unsurprisingly, the show was postponed to 2021.  I thought it might get postponed again as COVID cases started rising, but they plugged along and played an amazing three night miniseries.

I had intended to go Saturday and Sunday, then something came up and I considered switching my Saturday to Friday.  And while Saturday was great, Friday had several songs on my “gotta see live” list as well as a Fish vacuum solo!  I can’t believe they did that on the first night.

However, the second night proved to be pretty great.  If for no other reason than I got to stand in the Atlantic Ocean and watch Phish play.  There was a lifeguard who made sure people didn’t go out too deep (thankless job!) but I was at least knee deep from some of the show.  I was also quite far away from the 36,000 (!) people who apparently attended.

I’m guessing Phish fans are smart enough to get vaccinated (no proof was required at our show).  I masked up, but few others did. But as far as I can tell, it was not a superspreader event at all.  I did venture into the middle of the crowd a few times (masked and no where near the dense pit), but mostly I stayed in the water.

They started out with “Llama.”  “Llama” was a song I hadn’t seen live before, so auspicious start.  Then I realized they were playing it differently–a slow “Llama.”  It’s hard enough tryin to keep track of songs you need to hear without them playing different versions of the songs too.  I do love the fast “Llama,” but this slow version was groovy and very cool. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: August 13, 2020] Phish [rescheduled from August 14, 15 & 16, 2020]

Phish (like everyone else) postponed their 2020 tour, which was going to stop in Atlantic City for three nights.  I didn’t think I could manage three nights driving back and forth to Atlantic City (both physically and familially), so I chose two. Saturday and Sunday.  Two years later and the shows finally went on as scheduled and I did not go to the Friday show (because of course I assumed Saturday would be the killer night).

Turns out Friday was pretty amazing and, I think I would have preferred the Friday to the Saturday.  If for no other reason that Fish did a vacuum cleaner solo–something I’ve never seen in person.

The main reason to see Phish over and over is to see if you can catch all of their songs at some point.  The Friday show also proved to chock full of songs I hadn’t see before:

Cars Trucks Buses
AC/DC Bag
Wolfman’s Brother
I Didn’t Know
Possum

So from my perspective it would have been a great show.  Fortunately, my Saturday and Sunday shows (especially the Sunday show) were pretty great.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: GroundUP FAMILY DINNER-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #103 (October 27, 2020).

This is a sort of family affair Tiny Desk (multiple Home) concert.  The family is the GroundUP label.

This three-act, 18-person Tiny Desk (home) concert was conceived by Michael League, Snarky Puppy’s composer and bandleader. He and his cadre of artists on the GroundUP record label believe in two important points: that music and politics are inextricably linked, and the best way to connect people is through song.

The first song, “Heather’s Letters To Her Mother.” is a beautiful folk song that’s mostly Becca Steven and her guitar.  But there’s some beautiful subtle  piano from Brad Mehldau and simple but very effective bass from Chris Tordini.  I really liked this song with its ever so true refrain “This is not the America I know” and I liked it even more when I heard what it was all about.

The concert features three distinct ensembles, beginning with Becca Stevens and her song “Heather’s Letters To Her Mother.” “I wrote this for Heather Heyer, who was killed on August 12, 2017, while peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville,” she says. “In my heart this song has always been a rallying cry to come from a place of compassion in our actions and reactions. It’s a reminder to continue the fight for equality from a determined and compassionate stance regardless of what is happening around us. And it’s a reminder to stay grounded in love because without a foundation of love we are truly lost.”

I was surprised that the second song was in a language I didn’t know.

The second song features League’s world music group Bokanté performing the Creole song “Réparasyon,” meaning “reparations.” Bokanté vocalist Malika Tirolien wrote the song, which appears on the band’s Grammy-nominated album What Heat. “With the rise of black liberation movements around the world, this is a crucial time to remind everyone that people of African descent need the slave trade officially recognized as a crime against humanity and need reparations and restitutions of stolen goods,” Tirolien says. “Getting justice is the only way we can begin a process of forgiveness and healing.”

This song is amazing with some absolutely fantastic solos throughout. The song starts out with four, yes four, percussionists playing a pumping rhythm: Keita Ogawa, Jamey Haddad, André Ferrari, and Weedie Braimah.

Then bassist Michael League follows the same rhythm making it a melody.  Three guitars join in.  A lap steel from Roosevelt Collier and more guitars from Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bob Lanzetti and Chris McQueen one of whom plays a fantastic ethereal solo in the middle of the song.  It’s followed by a hand drum solo After a little bass solo one of the frummers (the one with the full kit) amusingly hits a tiny cymbal to get the song moving again.

Alina Engibaryan introduces the final song “We Are.”    She explains that the song

strives to bring people together, “I wanted to write a song that has a message about people, where regardless of our beliefs, our political views, our race, color, we are all human beings and made of the same thing,” Engibaryan says. “I hope people will understand that one day and will learn to love, respect and accept one another.”

It’s a time when hate has reached its limits.

It opens with gentle piano from Taylor Eigsti and some soft but complex drumming from Eric Harland. Chris Potter plays an introductory saxophone melody.  Alina Engibaryan playing Rhodes and Moog bass sings the first verse (and is backed up by Michael League).  Then in a surprise, Gregory Porter jumps in to sing the middle verse.

Whether or not this was meant as an introduction to the bands on the label, it is a terrific way to experience them in a short time with great songs.

[READ: December 5, 2020] “Fast Hands, Fast Feet”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 5. Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow, refuses to part with his cassette collection.  [Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

This is the kind of story that I knew I wouldn’t like because of the way it started.

Sentences like “Who still on cassettes, anyway? What year they think this is, 1980?” made me knew it wasn’t really meant for me.

But still, the story was engaging.

A young girl (woman?) has been breaking into cars, looking for something valuable.  A man spies her and tells her it’s cool, but she’s not about to wait and see what he’s all about.

She runs (“fast feet”) for the underpass where she and Queen Elizabeth Two call home.  But while she is settling in, a hand grabs her.  It’s the same man.  She panics but he calms her down. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LEO KOTTKE AND MIKE GORDON-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #100 (October 21, 2020).

I’ve enjoyed Mike Gordon’s playing with Phish and his solo records for years. But I’ve never really explored his recordings with Leo Kottke.

It’s been 15 years since the legendary guitarist Leo Kottke put out a new recording, and it’s no coincidence that his new music is with Phish bassist Mike Gordon. The two have a history of making albums together, but that hit a hiatus in 2005 with their Sixty Six Steps projectThey’re back with a 2020 album, Noon, and Phish drummer Jon Fishman joins the duo.

They open with “Flat Top,” a fantastic instrumental with lots of melodic runs.

They begin with what fans of Leo Kottke fell in love with 50 years ago, the sound of his acoustic guitar fingerpicking. Mike Gordon punctuates the opening song “Flat Top,” which at moments feels like a musical chase.

Mike plays his five string bass like a lead instrument, either playing a kind of counterpoint to Leo’s guitar melodies or even following them along beautifully.

Jon Fishman is a tasteful addition. Mike and Jon have played over 2,000 shows together, so there’s telepathy there. Still, he also finds ways into the music that isn’t merely rhythmic; he adds aural atmospherics with brushes in hand. There are some fun visual tricks but — musically speaking — not a moment of trickery. Just pure magic.

Before “The Only One” Leo’s phone rings and he talks about his friend Sam.  He met Sam when they played poker.  Sam told Leo his two pair beat Leo’s three of a kind.  “On such rip-offs life long friendships are made.”  Mike introduces Fish (“he’s my hero”) who is playing in the studio downstairs from Mike.

Introducing the song, Leo says, the name “The Only One” sounds better than “How to Be an Asshole,” I gotta admit.

There’s plenty of picking in this song as we’l, but its also got some gentle singing from Kottke, harmonies from MIke and gentle drumming from Fish.  The middle solo section is a wonderful moment where both Leo and Mike play complementary solos.

And while they’re miles apart for this Tiny Desk (home) concert, Leo at Creation Audio in Minneapolis and Mike and Jon at Tank Recording Studio in Burlington, Vt., there’s plenty of humor and spirit traversing the wires.

They do an amusing visual joke of them throwing a water bottle through the cameras frames–it’s lined up perfectly.

Mike tells a story that might have inspired “Sheets,” but Leo says,

I don’t know why I wrote this tune.  I don’t know why I write any of them.  I’ve always got my guitar–annoy the neighbors.  I have to hear the guitar.  And every now and them something will come up.   This song uses some of Mike lowest bass notes–they really resonate with Leo’s pretty guitar and gentle singing.

The final song is clearly written by Mike.  He introduces “I Am Random” by saying

This is a song that’s not about being a person standing in a room doing something … ever.

Then he says

it’s about people who came to our country from Kiev in 1885–they took a bell out of a church tower and rode it on out of town.

Who knows what the truth is. This song has a great funky bass line and Mike’s lead vocals.  There’s all kinds of weird (random?) things going on in the song.  Bass slides, time changes and a wonderfully chaotic denouement from all three.

This is a fantastic introduction to what this dup can do and a great introduction to Kottke’s music for me.

[READ: December 3, 2020] “A Famous Man”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 3. Kathryn Scanlan, author of The Dominant Animal, doesn’t need to pay admission if she’s just visiting the gift shop.  [Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

Yesterday’s story was told in first person plural. This one is told (in part) in second person singular.

“You” follow the life of a famous man. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: August 15 & 16, 2020] Phish [moved to Aug 13, 14, and 15, 2021]

indexI have seen Phish a bunch of times but I will always try to see them again.  And this summer tour promised to be interesting.

Phish will perform three shows on the Atlantic City beach Aug. 14 through 16, according to promoter Live Nation Entertainment. Atlantic City will be one of only two stops for Phish in the Northeast on their summer 2020 tour.

Atlantic City is a bit far for me (okay, it’s really quite far), but this seemed like a fun way to see them.  So I got tickets for two of the three nights (I decided driving to Atlantic City of a Friday night was a fool’s errand).

Then on May 1, quite early in the pandemic, Phish made this announcement”

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we sadly have made the difficult decision to reschedule Phish’s entire 2020 summer tour, now moving to the summer of 2021. We’ve been as excited as ever to play music for you all, and are so heartbroken to postpone these dates. The health and well-being of Phish fans, our touring crew, and the communities in which the band plays is our top concern.

I assume my tickets are going to be for the 14th & 15th 2021.  I wonder if they had printed any merch yet.  I hope not–although it could be a pseudo-collector’s item like the Curveball shirts.

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[CANCELLED: May 24, 2020] Trey Anastasio Band

indexI have seen Trey Anastasio once solo at Newport Folk Festival (amazing) and with  the Trey Anastasio Band (super fun).  I didn’t expect him to tour so soon because Phish is playing in Atlantic City this summer.  So it was great to see that he was going to do two shows this summer.

It’s a bummer that this show was cancelled, not to be rescheduled, but this show also wound up conflicting with my friend Armando’s wedding party so technically I wasn’t going to be able to go.  I was trying to trade for a ticket to the Saturday show, but that’s moot now.

TAB cancelled their show pretty early (Mar 24) for a show that was all the way at the end of May, but it was better not to have to wait.  So far, Phish hasn’t cancelled their shows on August 14-16, but we’ll see.

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Ryley Walker

I saw Ryley Walker open for Calexico in May of 2018.  He played with a trio–second guitar and bass.

Even though I was at the show, I clearly didn’t remember it very well, because I was puzzled why he was on this jam band bill.  The confusion is because I mostly remembered him singing the song “Telluride Speed,” a mellow folky song.

But re-watching some of the videos from that show I realize that much of the show was instrumental jams between he and his co-guitarist Bill McKay.  So I should have realized it made sense.

But I was so puzzled when he came out and started playing that I genuinely wasn’t sure if it was the same guy.

In part because the music he was playing was abstract and noisy and utterly experimental.  (It makes sense that his jamming for Calexico would be a bit more folky).  Plus, he looked completely different. (more…)

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