Tuesday, December 21, 2010

06/01/07 Simple (Phish tribute) @ Lion's Den, New York, NY

After Phish and Phix called it quits, this helping friendly band filled the void.

05/18/07 Riders on the Storm (ex-Doors) @ Nokia Theatre, New York, NY

Following charges of copyright infringement after performing under the moniker Doors of the 21st Century, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, original keyboardist and guitarist for The Doors respectively, headed out on another tour, this time borrowing a name from one of their best songs, Riders of The Storm. This incarnation included Fuel lead singer Brett Scallions.

No one, much less Scallions, could ever hope to replicate the stage presence of the legendary original front man Jim Morrison, but the show was an enjoyable, if predictable string of faithful renditions of classic Doors hits.

The real thrill of the night came later at the Hotel QT's swim-up bar. The pool area also featured a steam room and a sauna. A DJ and projectionist added to the ambiance. The whole set-up was simultaneously relaxing and liberating, inspiring various random acts of nudity.

05/11/07 Reckoning @ Lion's Den, New York, NY

Before their guitarist defected to U-Melt, Reckoning balanced their Dead-centric sets with a larger percentage of Phish tunes and other assorted covers, as was the case here. They even took on the often ironically requested Skynyrd anthem "Free Bird."

05/05/07 Antibalas @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

Nowadays, Antibalas can be found providing the live accompaniment for the Broadway hit Fela!, but once upon a time, they were merely the best afrobeat orchestra in the land, carrying the torch of Fela Kuti's considerable musical legacy.

04/27/07 Disco Biscuits (TractorBeam) @ Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY

Set 1: Strobelights and Martinis1 > Pygmy Twylyte > Morph Dusseldorf > Spaga > Crickets > Sweating Bullets, Munchkin Invasion > The Great Abyss > Astronaut > Munchkin Invasion > Astronaut
1with "Cyclone" fake-out
This under-the-radar gig announced just several days prior and billed under a pseudonym, saw The Disco Biscuits eschewing vocals, never their strong suit, for an all instrumental set.

Not having seen the Biscuits in a couple years at that point, I rediscovered their trancefusion sound, fell in love and haven't looked back since.

04/23/07 The Motet w/Fareed Haque @ SOB's, New York, NY

This show paired the Middle Eastern influenced guitarist of Garaj Mahal with the funkier jazz grooves of The Motet.

04/21/07 Phix (Phish tribute) @ BB King's Blues Club, New York, NY

Set 1: Buried Alive > Tube, Slave to the Traffic Light, Cars Trucks Buses, Reba, The Sloth, Twist > The Squirming Coil
Set 2: Axilla II > The Moma Dance, Free > Ha Ha Ha > Free, My Friend My Friend, Maze, Horn, Wolfman's Brother, Divided Sky
Encore: Loving Cup
This was part of the 2nd annual Green Apple Festival. This was billed as one of Phix's last shows, erroneously as it would turn out. There's something sadly post-modernist about a Phish cover band breaking up.

Anyways, I took my girlfriend to see the same band at the same venue for her 21st birthday, so back we went for multiple layers of nostalgia.

04/20/07 Zero @ Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY

Steve Kimock, Greg Anton, Martin Fierro, Melvin Seals, Liam Hanrahan, Donna Jean Godchaux, John Morgan Kimock
Set 1: Anorexia, Catalina, Pits Of Thunder, Merle's Boogie, Big Love, Home On The Range
Set 2: Cole's Law > Tangled Hangers, Chance In A Million, Franklin's Tower1, Golden Road
1 with Geoffery Menin on keyboards
This 4/20 celebration featured Bay Area guitarist and Grateful Dead associate Steve Kimock's band, which included several other Dead family members, but played only a couple Dead songs.

04/06/07 Martin Sexton @ Nokia Theatre, New York, NY

I was not then, nor am I now, familiar with Mr. Sexton's work, but a couple of my friends were going and the price was right.

04/04/07 Page McConnell @ Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY

This gig fell at just about the midway point between Phish's summer 2004 finale and their spring 2009 return.

Before the show, I stealthily watched a filmed interview from a staircase. It was hard to believe that this was the same man whom I had last seen perform in front of a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands.

The performance itself drew heavily from the album release it was geared to promote. Highlights included "Beauty of a Broken Heart" and "Maid Marian," both of which would eventually find themselves in Phish 3.0 setlists.

The encore, and lone Phish song of the night, was my first time hearing "Strange Design," which has become one of my favorite tunes.

03/30/07 La Coka Nostra/The Lordz @ Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY

I don't think I stuck around at this lengthy hip hop showcase long enough to catch House of Pain offshoot, La Coka Nostra.

I did catch a set by old school hip hop/punk hybrid The Lordz of Brooklyn.

This was my first time at the venue, a repurposed and recently renovated movie theatre that was still a work in progress on the day of the show.

03/27/07 Allman Brothers Band @ Beacon Theatre, New York, NY

Set 1: Don't Keep Me Wonderin', Trouble No More, Woman Across The River, Old Before My Time, Come and Go Blues, Maydell, Stand Back, Spoonful1, Instrumental Illness
Set 2: I Shall Be Released2, Anything Goes3, Statesboro Blues4, Gambler's Roll, Hoochie Coochie Man, Les Brers In A Minor
Encore: One Way Out5

1 with Col. Bruce Hampton, vocals; Audley Freed, guitar
2 with Susan Tedeschi, vocals; Kevin Kinney, vocals & guitar; Brian Mitchell, keyboards
3 with Susan Tedeschi, vocals; Yon Rico Scott, drums
4 with Brian Mitchell, organ; Gregg, piano
5 with Audley Freed, guitar; Matt Abts, drums
This was my first and only show attended of the grand tradition that is The Allman Brothers early Spring run at the Beacon Theatre. March Madness peakin' at the Beacon!

The group played a staggering 190 shows there over a 20 year span starting in 1989. This year, they had to move uptown after the Beacon booked an extended Cirque Du Soleil stand, but the Brothers will be back at the Beacon in 2011, this time competing with a Furthur run in Midtown.

03/26/07 Salsa Meets Jazz: Bronx Horns w/John Scofield @ SOB's, New York, NY

Though the genre clashing concept of this initial concert in a planned series was intriguing enough, my attendance was due solely to the presence of Miles Davis alum and Medeski Martin & Wood collaborator, guitarist John Scofield.

03/24/07 Tea Leaf Green/U-Melt @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

This show was a reminder that jam music can be bland and uninspired just like any other genre. I now know to stick to the cream of the crop and away from the boring generic stuff.

Tea Leaf Green has since recruited bassist Reed Mathis, though I prefer him with Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, and U-Melt recently called it quits.

03/09/07 Marco Benevento, Reed Mathis & Mike Dillon @ Knitting Factory Tap Bar, New York, NY

Just a bunch of talented musicians kicking out slightly punky, mostly improv jams.

02/24/07 Zach Galifianakis @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

Before Zach sky-rocketed to pop cultural over-saturation thanks to his breakout role in the overrated comedy The Hangover, he was one of the funniest comedians in the business.

After being a fan for a few years, I finally got the chance to catch his live show and it did not disappoint. From identifying Out Cold as "a snowboard film I did with Lee Majors" to completely verbally destroying a heckler to a finale involving Zach in a tutu, this stands as one of the most satisfying and entertaining comedy experiences of my life.

02/19/07 !!! @ Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ

This was a MySpace Secret Show. Remember MySpace? They used to have fairly big bands in fairly small venues and announce it a day or so before via MySpace. This was in the days before FaceBook completely dominated the social networking game.

Anyways, on this wintry night, the good folks at MySpace brought the curiously named dance punkers !!! (or chk chk chk) to the number one music venue in Hoboken.

The show was high energy, which is more than can be said for the surrounding town, but at least we got free posters.

02/09/07 PsyLab (Secret Night of Science) @ Love, New York, NY

I don't remember exactly what I was doing earlier this particular night, but I do know I almost skipped this event.

I went to check out the live electronic stylings of PsyLab, but I discovered one of the most unique venues in all of NYC.

The bare, cave-like interior possesses an incredible soundsystem and the small, packed dance floor recalled the warehouse raves of the past decade or so. In fact, the blacklit DayGlo decor seemed specifically designed to conjure up Peace Love Unity Respect if the club's name was not enough.

But what truly set this club apart was its lounge area featuring double decker couches, reminiscent of Fraggle Rock, tucked behind a waterfall, through which psychedelic images were projected.

How a place of this magnitude managed to elude me for so long was perplexing, and I extolled its virtues for several years. Sadly, the club would soon succumb to conventionality, which in turn led to its gradual demise.

02/03/07 Galactic/J-Live @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

This might have been the show at which Galactic became my most seen band.

Monday, December 20, 2010

02/02/07 Galactic/Reggie Watts @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

I came for Galactic, but I was pleasantly surprised by opener Reggie Watts. I had previously seen him and his powerful pipes sit in with Soulive. I also knew that he fronted a Pacific Northwest R&B soul funk group called Maktub, so I figured I'd be catching something along those lines.

What I learned is that Reggie Watts had decided to divert his considerable vocal talents to the field of alternative comedy, combining looped beats with off-kilter, tongue-in-cheek witticisms and observations to create some of the most original comedic material I've ever witnessed. It truly must be seen to be understood.

01/23/07 Redman w/Rhythm Roots Allstars @ Canal Room, New York, NY

Somewhere along the line, it seems as if Redman got forgotten by the history of hip hop. He certainly gets his accolades, but he seems to no longer be in the conversation about great MC's.

This small club gig featured a stellar live backing band in what seemed to be the trend in hip hop shows at the time.

True to form, Redman smoked a fat blunt on stage.

The event fittingly featured free Olde English malt liquor.

01/21/07 The American Beauty Project (American Beauty) @ WFC Winter Garden, New York, NY

American Beauty - Sunday, January 21 at 8:00 p.m.:

Box Of Rain - Toshi Reagon
Friend Of The Devil - Mark Eitzel
Sugar Magnolia - Jim Lauderdale and friends
Operator - Jorma Kaukonen and friends
Candyman - Jay Farrar (Son Volt)
Ripple - Dar Williams and Dan Zanes
Brokedown Palace - Ollabelle with Larry Campbell
Till The Morning Comes - Espers
Attics Of My Life - Larry Campbell with Teresa Williams and Rob Barraco
Plus instrumental interludes by: Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, and Sex Mob
The Sunday edition of this two night tribute seemed even rowdier than Saturday, confirmed at the conclusion when the emcee announced that the cavernous Winter Garden had actually reached capacity.

The more raucous vibe was likely due to the more upbeat tunes of this album compared to its folksier predecessor. Especially impressive were the Klezmer-inflected instrumental interludes.

The steady ascension of American Beauty to the top of my favorite albums list can be traced back to this night.

01/20/07 The American Beauty Project (Workingman's Dead) @ WFC Winter Garden, New York, NY

Workingman's Dead - Saturday, January 20 at 8:00 p.m.:

Uncle John's Band - Ollabelle with Larry Campbell
High Time - The Holmes Brothers
Dire Wolf - Larry Campbell with Teresa Williams and Rob Barraco
New Speedway Boogie - Catherine Russell
Cumberland Blues - The Klezmatics
Black Peter - Jim Lauderdale with John Leventhal, Brandon Ross and friends
Easy Wind - Tim O'Reagan (the Jayhawks)
Casey Jones - Railroad Earth
Plus instrumental interludes by: Tony Trischka and Andy Statman
The American Beauty Project was an ambitious tribute concert featuring various artists interpreting the Dead's landmark 1970 albums.

The shows were free, and the venue was the atrium of the World Financial Center Winter Garden, resplendent with glass arched ceilings and view impairing artificial palm trees.

The encore featured a full ensemble take on "Knockin' On Heaven's Door."

01/19/07 Mission: On Mars @ Rose Live Music, Brooklyn, NY

Sometimes in this city, an evening on the town can yield unexpected surprises. This night led me to discover a new favorite venue adjacent to the BQE.

Rose is a mellow spot in a quiet unassuming neighborhood. They have friendly, helpful bartenders and a reasonably priced, sometimes delicious menu. I'm a sucker for the cheese plate.

They also host an eclectic blend of jazz, hip hop, world and other music on an almost nightly basis.

Mission: On Mars was a sitar-based group, prone to the swirling psychedelia practically inherent in the sitar sound, but grounded in the soothing breakbeats of contemporary lounge. Their down-tempo jams fit the ambiance of the room flawlessly.

01/12/07 Joe Russo, Erik Deutsch, Jonathan Goldberger @ Tonic, New York, NY

Nearly recovered from mono, I caught one of my favorite NYC drummers at one of my favorite NYC venues in a barely belated birthday celebration.

12/30/06 moe. @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

Set 1: Meat, Captain America, Akimbo, Big World, Y.O.Y. > George
Set 2: Head > Kyle's Song, Crab Eyes, Dr. Graffenberg > Can't You Hear Me Knocking > Rebubula
Encore: Faker > Head
Somehow I had managed to avoid moe. until this point, despite my tastes tending towards the exact brand of jam rock they purvey. I liked them enough, but I never developed the obsession that the moe.rons have.

This was an intimate venue appetizer to the main course New Year's Eve extravaganza at the much larger Radio City Music Hall. I decided to avail myself of the perks of my volunteer work to catch the sold out show.

The music was enjoyable enough, if mostly forgettable, but the proceedings were overshadowed by the spectre of the mononucleosis with which I had recently been diagnosed. As a result of the disease, I was forced to abstain from drinking for a month, forgo any New Year's Eve celebrations and skip a non-refundable snowboard trip to Colorado in January.

12/29/06 Greyboy Allstars @ Nokia Theatre, New York, NY

The Greyboy Allstars formed out of a collaboration between SoCal acid jazz DJ Greyboy and saxophonist Karl Denson. Eventually the project swelled to a full band soul funk project including organ wizard Robert Walters. This show was one of the first after a several year hiatus.

12/15/06 The New Deal/Benzos @ Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

I believe this was the show that The New Deal busted out an unexpected cover of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," even eschewing their predominantly instrumental approach for a stab at some of the staccato chorus.