Sharin’ in the Groove
Last night, Mike’s fall tour came to a close at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. With rave reviews coming from a wide variety of sources, it appears the future for the Mike Gordon Band looks bright.
On Friday, Mike performed in a tiny club in Toronto, bringing back the feeling of Phish’s early days of touring the club circuit. In the past, when Phish would travel to Canada, only the most devoted fans would make the trek (read our article The Spirit of the North). The band would reward the fans in these intimate venues, far-off their regular touring path. Friday night was no different with Mike’s band. The energy was brimming from the outset, and in the small quarters of the Mod Club, the band rewarded the fans once again. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, Mike and his band delivered one of the best shows of the tour. Once again the feeling was there of the band and fans both in it together, in a small room, sharin’ in the groove.
Unlike some of the previous shows on the tour, on Friday, Mike and his band needed no time to warm-up. The night kicked off with “Traveled Too Far”, one of several songs played off Mike’s new album The Green Sparrow. Mike began by playing with his Korg Kaossilator, an effect box, creating some very interesting sounds. The song was taken for a 20 minute ride which began with a vocal jam prior to the intro. Holding nothing back, an early groove was started which led into the song perfectly, showing the connection Mike has crafted with his band mates. Even the highest expectations were shoved aside as the band launched into one of the best jams of the tour. To be fully honest, this was one of the best jams Mike has had in years, in any band. And to anyone close enough, you could see how much Mike was enjoying it. Featuring noticeable “Sugar Shack” teases, and some alternative picking reminiscent of “DEG”, Murawski and Gordo vibed off each other showing the long history the two share.
Mike has cited Murawski’s other band – Max Creek Band – as one of his favorites, and has sat in with them on numerous occasions. In the 80′s, Phish covered Max Creek’s “Back Porch Boogie”, a funky number that Mike tricked the band into playing the song, claiming it was one of his own. Joking with each other much in the way Mike and Trey do, it was obvious Mike was having the time of his life. The close friendship between the two was shown when a fan held up a “Skin it Back” sign and Mike tapped Scott, laughing, to see his reaction. Unfortunately, the song was not played.
The show was contained to a single set due to the strict curfew, but in that time, Mike and his band made quite an impact. Each song was extended and explored, with some very unique jams resulting. “I’m Deranged” was one of the highlights of the night, appearing in a sandwich between “Andelman’s Yard”. The song featured a heavily syncopated riff by Scott that flowed throughout the song. The jam went very outside before returning to the bright melody of “Andleman’s”. Other highlights were “Another Door” and the GRAB song “Suskind Hotel”.
The feeling of this being a simple side-project was completely absent. The emphasis on the band-mentality, rather than displaying a single musician’s talents, has made for a very different feeling. Showcasing songs from the other band members, it is clear that Mike intends to make this band more than a musical outlet for himself. He has said how important developing this band is to him, and his intense focus during the show made it apparent that he is putting a great deal of effort in to it. The band nailed their noticeably difficult composed sections, and jammed with a growing confidence. Closing the show with the Beatles “She Said, She Said”, nailing the vocal harmonies, Mike and his band left the stage glowing with excitement. Afterward, we caught up with the band at the after party where they shared their feelings on the incredible night. This show was the definite sleeper of the tour, and a treat for anyone who made the trek through the cold, rainy Toronto night.
Listen to “Traveled Too Far” the opener on Friday night in Toronto.
Traveled Too Far, Andelman’s Yard>I’m Deranged>Andelman’s Yard, Crumblin Bones, Sugar Shack, River Niger>Radar Blip, Time (The Revelator), Another Door, Suskind Hotel,
She Said She Said
Mike and his band performing “Cities” 9.26.09
Phish performing the Max Creek cover “Back Porch Boogie Blues”