With only a day remaining until we depart for Super Ball IX, I’ve put together a few things to help prepare you for your journey. Also, be sure to check out my previous post on the original Watkins Glen Festival for some background info. Below, you’ll find streams for the Dead’s soundcheck from the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in ’73, a 2 hour playlist to take with you on the road as well as a handful of photos from the original fest. For those travelling from near or far, we wish you safe travels and hope to see you on site this weekend. Every person in attendance at Super Ball IX this weekend should be familiar with the Dead’s famous Watkins Glen soundcheck from 1973. As I’ve previously mentioned, the soundcheck took place on the day prior to the festival, July 27. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham allowed fans to watch the soundchecks, and by the time the Dead took the stage a sizable crowd of onlookers had gathered. Deciding to treat the fans, the Dead played an impromptu two-set performance featuring an 18 minute “Bird Song” and a 21 minute free-form jam. The latter holds up as one of the band’s finest moments of all time. “Watkins Glen Soundcheck Jam” (7.27.73) In addition, I’ve assembled a 2 hour playlist to take with you to the festival. The selections include a few nods to the original fest and plenty more great jams. I think you’ll find it to be a fine accompaniment for the drive or in the campground between sets. Playlist: To check out more of Grant’s wonderful photos, head to his flicker page here.
1. The Allman Bros. – Revival
2. Dungen – Solen Siger Upp Del1 & Del2
3. White Denim – Burnished
4. CCR – Ramble Tamble
5. Akron/Family – River
6. Megafaun – Carolina Days
7. The Band – We Can talk
8. Boz Scaggs – I’m Easy (feat. Skydog)
9. Rolling Stones – We Love You (feat. Lennon & McCartney)
10. Ducktails – Killin’ the Vibe
11. Telegraph Avenue – Something Going
12. CAN – I Want More
13. Talking Heads – Slipper People
14. The Slip – Get Me With Fuji
15. Yellowbirds – Pulaski Bridge
16. Marco Benevento – Atari (feat. Sam Cohen)
17. Tripsichord Music Box – On the Last Ride
18. Grateful Dead – Eyes of the World (7.28.73)
19. Built to Spill – Else
20. Alex Bleeker and the Freaks – Animal Tracks
21. Phish – Whipping Post (7.25.99)
22. Real Estate – Suburban Beverage
With only a day remaining until we depart for Super Ball IX, I’ve put together a few things to help prepare you for your journey. Also, be sure to check out my previous post on the original Watkins Glen Festival for some background info. Below, you’ll find streams for the Dead’s soundcheck from the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in ’73, a 2 hour playlist to take with you on the road as well as a handful of photos from the original fest. For those travelling from near or far, we wish you safe travels and hope to see you on site this weekend.
Every person in attendance at Super Ball IX this weekend should be familiar with the Dead’s famous Watkins Glen soundcheck from 1973. As I’ve previously mentioned, the soundcheck took place on the day prior to the festival, July 27. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham allowed fans to watch the soundchecks, and by the time the Dead took the stage a sizable crowd of onlookers had gathered. Deciding to treat the fans, the Dead played an impromptu two-set performance featuring an 18 minute “Bird Song” and a 21 minute free-form jam. The latter holds up as one of the band’s finest moments of all time.
“Watkins Glen Soundcheck Jam” (7.27.73)
In addition, I’ve assembled a 2 hour playlist to take with you to the festival. The selections include a few nods to the original fest and plenty more great jams. I think you’ll find it to be a fine accompaniment for the drive or in the campground between sets.
To check out more of Grant’s wonderful photos, head to his flicker page here.
With the first leg of Phish’s 2011 Summer Tour in the bag, it’s that time to look back on the trail of highlights. This was an interesting tour that saw the band wearing two faces. One was the band we saw in Bethel and again in the Midwest—a fearless improvising machine taking risks at nearly every corner. And then there was the other Phish, one that favored energy over exploration. Without a doubt, the band continues to grow tighter and the jams continue to become more interesting. But what leads to this inconsistency is anybody’s guess.
For your listening pleasure, I’ve assembled a collection of jams (by no means does this include every one) that I felt stood out among the rest on this tour. If I’ve left out any, let me know.
Kill Devil Falls (5.27 Bethel Woods)
The first extended jam on “KDF” came in the first set of the first night at Bethel Woods (lotsa firsts). Early on, Trey locks into a syncopated, stacatto pattern and loops it through his Boomerang. The loop carries on underneath as he guides the band into type II territory with soaring, sustained notes.
Waves (5.27 Bethel Woods)
Right from the “on the wind and under water” refrain, the band dove deep into type-II improv. Page takes the lead early on moving from piano to Rhodes. The rest of the band seems to ebb and flow beneath his playing as the jam develops into an adventurous ambient journey. Nearing the end, a segment emerges similar to a fall ’94-era reverby breakdown (ala the Fox ’94 “Tweezer.”). This remains one of my personal favorite moments of the tour.
Halley’s Comet (5.28 Bethel Woods)
The first jammed out “Halley’s” of 3.0 appeared on the second night of Bethel. As many of us stood wondering if the song would finally go somewhere, our minds were appeased when the band tore into a section of dark type II jamming midway through the first set. And it wasn’t your typical 3.0 jamming—the jam evolved into something completely new and original. This was not only one of the best moments of tour, but one of the most exciting as well.
Ginteca (5.28 Bethel Woods)
Another first-set highlight from night 2 at Bethel Woods. Trey and Page can be heard riffing back and forth at each other before the jam leads into an attempted “Golden Age” segue that becomes a “Manteca” jam instead.
Makisupa Policeman > Harry Hood (5.28 Bethel Woods)
This playful “Makisupa” started the tour long band member “house” references. And upon entering Fishman’s abode, the band treated us to one of the finest “Hoods” in 3.0. Patient, collective improv of the best kind.
No Quarter (6.1 Holmdel)
Phish’s debut of this epic Led Zeppelin tune (check out Phish.net’s excellent song history) came out of nowhere following an ambient “Tweezer” outro. The stage crew came on and switched Page’s vocal mic into his rotary Leslie speaker giving an effect similar to the original.
Down With Disease (6.3 Clarkston)
Many jams in 3.0 have a routine of fading into ambient territory and then trailing off into another song. This outing was different as Fishman picks up on a groove and revives the jam with a second helping of energy. The band eventually finds its way into a jam on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” A special moment, indeed. (Check out the “Birds of a Feather” from 6.30.00 for another “Love Supreme” jam).
David Bowie (6.3. Clarkston)
One of the more psychedelic “Bowie” intros came out of an atypical “Fluffhead” outro late in the second set at Pine Knob. Almost like a mid-80s “Space” the band eases its way into the song with Trey using a rarely utilized midi-effect. The jam is another display of the increased patience exhibited on the first leg of the tour and sees the quartet making its way through yet another buttery adventure. The jam weaves between dark minor sections and bright modal jamming with standout group interplay.
Sneakin’ Sally Thru The Alley (6.4 Blossom)
The post-vocal jam quickly dips into plinko mode, but with more complexity than others. The band finds comfort in this funky, looped madness eventually departing for a dark drone section that follows. Trey switches on his octave drop effect with a thick fuzz that meshes with Page’s synth with a strange, almost lo-fi sound.
The Curtain (With) (6.10 Camden)
Many have noticed Trey’s increased use of reverb and delay during certain solos. This is the newest pedal in his rig at work—the TCM-Nova Repeater—which gives his tone more of an ethereal, Jerry-like sound. “The Curtain” jam was one of Trey’s finest moments from the tour and one that saw him pouring his heart into a solo like we hadn’t seen in some time. The whole band seems to move as a unit throughout, eventually arriving at a near-telepathic modal shift.
Rock & Roll > Ghost (6.17 Charlotte)
Following a spacey “Rock & Roll” jam, the opening notes of the tour’s second “Ghost” rang out with Trey’s new edgy tone. The jam takes off with more funk than many recent versions and before long Mike and Trey latch onto a pattern that pulls the jam into a bright, major section. Trey’s recent West-Montgomery inspired octave riffs are all over this one.
Split Open and Melt (6.18 Raleigh)
This version of “Split” features another near-telepathic modal shift toward the beginning of the jam. Just as the band seems to be digging into the song’s typically dark structure, all of a sudden some magical queue leads them into a blissful major jam. Another four-part journey that stands out as one of my favorite jams from the entire tour.
Sand (6.19 Portsmouth)
Some of the first stop-start jamming we’ve heard from the band in some time. Easily the top version from the tour with top notch clavinet work from the tour’s clear MVP, Mr. Page McConnell.
Light (6.19 Portsmouth)
This was a last minute addition. I didn’t want to include it, because, to be honest, it’s not all that special. But I feel it’s worthy of inclusion solely based on the four part interplay that goes on throughout part of the jam. Easily some of the best in recent history. It seems Trey tries to jump into “Horse” at one point, but Mike won’t have any of it. There is one spot in particular that is just amazing, and likely the reason it has a place on this list.
Pure X (formerly Pure Ecstasy) is a lo-fi psych-rock outfit hailing from Austin, TX. Led by singer/guitarist Nate Grace, the band dishes out mellow, reverb-drenched psychedelia that recalls New Jersey’s Real Estate at times. Over the last two years, they have put out a score of EPs, cassettes and 7″s but have now announced the release of a full record. Below, you can hear a new song off the group’s debut LP Pleasure to be released via Acephale next month. Also, check out the previously released track “Twisted Mirror.”
For those unfamiliar with the genre of music dubbed “Desert Blues,” look no further Malian Tuareg desert blues band Tinariwen. These African Toureg musicians are nomads of the Sahara desert who ride on horseback with Stratocasters and AK-47′s at their side. The band’s sound is driven by a distinct guitar style known as assouf among the Tuareg people, and in recent years this sound has garnered international attention.
On August 30, Tinariwen—a band at the forefront of this movement—will release its fifth studio album via Anti-Records. Recorded in a remote section of the South Eastern Algerian desert, Tassili is a return to the group’s acoustic guitar/un-amplified percussion roots. Nels Cline (Wilco), Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band horns also guest on select tracks. Tinariwen hits the road later this month on a tour that will take them through Europe and North America.
Check out the video “Tenere Taqqim Tossam” featuring Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio.
Read on for Tinariwen’s full list of tour dates. (more…)
After Phish’s second night at Bethel Woods, many fans made the trek over to Equinunk, PA to catch the Marco Benevento Trio’s late night set. On a small stage in the Equinunk campground, Marco, Dave Dreiwitz (Ween) and drummer Andrew Borger delivered a high-energy set loaded with exploratory improv. Here’s a clip of “RISD” from Marco’s recent album Between the Needles and Nightfall. Thanks to our good friends The Royal Potato Family for sharing the clip.
For nearly a year now, I’ve been championing Superhuman Happinness as one of the most promising up and coming acts on the scene. Loaded with a plethora of musical talent and creativity, this Brooklyn-based band is a fearless improvising machine with the tightness of James Brown’s band on a good night. Some of you may have actually seen some of the members this past Halloween when frontman Stuart Bogie (Antibalas, Iron & Wine, TV on the Radio) and trumpet player Eric Biondo (Beyondo, The Monkeys) joined Phish for their cover of Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus.
Last week, the good people at Royal Potato Family records released the band’s brand new 7″ containing the killer summer jam “Needles & Pins.” The song recalls Genesis and MGMT in parts and features what is easily one of the best guitar riffs of 2011 from Antibalas guitarist Luke O’Malley. Below, you can check out the brand new studio sounds of Superhuman Happiness—a band that never fails to live up to its name.
“Needles & Pins“
DJ Wyllys has been making the rounds on the circuit lately. Tomorrow night, the Vermont based DJ will make his debut at Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery. Dubbed ‘The Big Payback’ (a nod to James Brown), the show kicks off at 9pm and will carry through into the early hours of the morning. The night will include sets by DJ’s Bryan Cosgrove and Wyllys and also features Mike Fisher (life, nyc) Mike Terra and Richie Cuts B2B and Bo Hebert. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Phish’s 10th show at Camden, NJ’s Susquehanna Bank Center was a different outing than any we’ve seen from the band in recent memory. For one, the group leaned heavily into its early repertoire throughout the evening. The songs were mostly well played—especially complex composed sections—and it was clear Trey was taking risks with setlist choices.
Opening with “Rocky Top,” the second bluegrass cover opener in as many shows, Phish brought a different energy from the first note. The group then moved into a charging “Mike’s Groove,” again the second in as many shows, that featured one of the strongest “Weekapaugs” in 3.0. “Stash” went places, moving through dark modal sections with patient, atypical jamming. The highlight of the first set came during a soul stirring version of “The Curtain (With)” that featured a passionate, soaring solo from Trey.
The second set started off with a strong, albeit brief, ”Down with Disease.” While the jam did last, Phish took little time to reach some magical moments. It then segued seamlessly into “Free,” but from this point on the band seemed to lose its footing and the flow went with it. The combination of ”Possum,” “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,” “Swept Away” > “Steep,” simply did not flow. While the songs were all well played, the energy failed to carry from one to the next and the magic just wasn’t there. It didn’t help that “Fluffhead” into “Joy” closed the show.
But what was different between this set and others that have fallen flat, was the playing. Trey didn’t hijack this show (or at least he didn’t seem to)—instead it seemed more like a full band effort. It was strange to see this following the energy from the first, and surely different from any Phish experience I have known.
Wednesday, Brad and Andrew Barr of The Slip returned to Brooklyn with their new stripped-down outfit, The Barr Brothers. This performance was the band’s 3rd NYC gig of 2011, and saw perhaps the largest crowd of the three. Set in the intimate Littlefield venue in Brooklyn—a remote space often used for art exhibits—the Barrs treated fans their first full NYC-area show, as oppose to a brief opening or shared slot.
The night began with a performance by Brooklyn’s Bizigara, fronted by Baptiste Ibar (the artist who designed the cover art of Marco Benevento’s Invisible Baby). Bizigara also features DGB friend Noah Plotkin on drums, who plays San Fran psych-rock band Citay’s new lineup. As an opening performance, the band paired well with the Barr’s sound and stretched out during several extended psychedelic jams.
The Barrs took the stage shortly after 10 and opened with a brand new song, fresh to most of our ears. Sidestepping the more common “Beggar in the Morning” opener, this new tune infused the set with a different, and more upbeat, energy. For this song and several more, Brad wielded a “tackle box” guitar—a guitar made from an old metal box—lending a unique guitar tone and natural reverb to the songs. While much of the audience remained seated for the performance, the Barr’s jamband roots came into full view as a crowd of fans gradually gathered toward the back, engaging in hippie-like dance throughout the performance.
A highlight moment came during the admittedly Desert-blues inspired “Deacon’s Son” when the band streched out into near Slip-like territory. Again, at times, the set seemed more upbeat and energetic than previous Barr Bros. performances and helped to draw in the audience. During “Deacon’s,” harpist Sarah Page led the jam off with a solo that moved into Tinariwen-inspired riffage from Brad. This carried into new song “If You Leave Me,” which saw Brad and Sarah facing off in humorous a call and response battle of harmonics.
Allowing us yet another taste from the band’s highly anticipated sophomore album, the band introduced a new song with Brad and Sarah on acoustic guitars and Andrew on a “manjo.” And, while this was one of the night’s calmer moments, it still stretched out into 8 minute territory with quiet instrumental sections and haunting vocal chants. Songs such as these show Brad becoming more comfortable with his softer vocal range as well as with the stripped down songwriting format.
The band followed up with another new song with Brad moving to a Danelectro guitar and the rest of the band including guest vocalist Sonya Kitchell huddling around a mic in acapella fashion. Brad then appealed for volunteers from the audience to take long pieces of twine attached to his guitar strings as he does himself in several songs. The friction from the twine combines with the guitar strings to create a droning violin-like sound. And so, six members of the audience handled these long lines, literally playing Brad’s guitar for him, as the band sang along. Quite an experience.
When the band came out for the first of a two-song encore, the crowd was eager to hear more new material and requested both “England” and “Alta Falls.” The band, seeming somewhat surprised, appeased the second request and performed the mellow tune to perfection. Kitchell joined in again to close out the show with the somber “Ooh Belle,” concluding what may have been the most engaging Barrs performance I have seen to date.
The Barr Brothers take the stage at 10pm tonight at Firehouse in Providence. Be sure to check them out on their current Northeast tour. Visit the band’s website for tour dates.
1. New Song, Old Mythologies, Kisses From Chelsea, Deacon’s Sun, If You Leave Me, Beggar in the Morning, lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’, New Song, New Song, Give the Devil Back His Heart, Cloud, Alta Falls, Ooh Belle.
I apologize for the shitty pictures, our photog was not able to make it.
Phish has announced a live webcast of the July 14th and 15th sold-out shows from the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park in Alpharetta, GA. The webcast will be offered through Livephish.com with two-day passes going for $24.99 and single day passes at $14.99. Head over to Phish.com for more info.
Brooklyn indie psych rockers Real Estate have announced their July tour dates with Dent May in support. The tour kicks off on July 10 at Red Palace in Washington and will see the band visit small haunts throughout the US & Canada. The band will eventually make its way to the Woodsist festival in Big Sur, CA hosted by our friends at (((folkyeah))), before closing out the tour in San Fran. Check out the full list of dates below.
Also, listen to this new demo from Real Estate called “Blue Lebaron”
Also be sure to check out my interview with Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker over at Jambands.com.
Real Estate July Tour
July 10 – Washington, DC @ Red Palace w/ Dent May
July 11 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 w/ Dent May
July 12 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl w/ Dent May
July 13 – Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s w/ Dent May
July 14 – Nashville, TN @ Hard Rock Cafe/ Sounds Like Summer w/ Dent May
July 17 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean w/ Dent May
July 18 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick w/ Dent May
July 19 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison w/ Dent May
July 20 – Montreal, QC @ Il Motore w/ Dent May
July 23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Prospect Park Bandshell/Celebrate Brooklyn w/ The Feelies and Times New Viking
July 24 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s w/ Dent May
July 31 – Big Sur, CA @ Henry Miller Library / Woodsist Festival w/ Thee Oh Sees, Fresh & Onlys, Woods, Sic Alps, Sun Araw, White Fence
August 2 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent w/ Dominant Legs & Melted Toys
NYC’s Breakthru radio recently filmed a studio session with Sam Cohen and Josh Kaufman of Yellowbirds. In the intimate setting of the Serious Business studio, the duo spoke with radio host Travis Harrison before performing a stripped down version of “Beneath the Reach of Light.” This video sees Cohen move to acoustic with Kaufman commanding an array of noise vehicles behind him. Check out the video courtesy of Breakthru Radio below.
Wednesday’s Phish show at PNC Bank Arts Center was a major redemption for many fans who were in attendance the night prior. After two consecutive lackluster performances (Bethel 3, PNC 1), many wondered if the magic from those first two nights of tour was just an anomaly.
But last night, the band energized the show from the outset, opening with “First Tube” for the first time since Shorline ’00 (10.7.00). And onward for much of the night, Phish continued to display the willing, adventurous face that we had seen in Bethel. However, due in part to the early curfew, some jams in the second set were not given the chance to come fully into bloom and, thus, potentially great moments were lost. At times, the intent was fully there, and the path was laid for adventure.
I’ve repeatedly said that an obscure opener often leads to good things, and last night was no exception. Throughout the first set, the pace never faltered and we were treated to interesting, well-played versions of “Stealing Time,” “Jibboo” and “7 Below.” The highlight of the set came toward the end in the form of a very outside excursion that emerged from the “Melt” jam. Much of the improv appeared to be led by Fishman as he guided the band through various tempo changes and odd time signatures. Although at times, it seemed more like four musicians soloing at the same time rather than collective improv.
Set two can be summed up quite easily: “‘Tweezer’ into ‘No Quarter.’” ”Tweezer” opened the second and placed Trey’s new tone on display as he let out caterwauling cracks and wails over the groove. While the jam never fully departed, the ending eventually lead into a segment of dark ambience that gave way to the ominous opening notes of Led Zeppelin’s epic “No Quarter.” As usual, Page took on Plant’s vocal duties and even had his mic run through his rotary Leslie organ speaker to capture the effect of the original. Trey nailed Page’s guitar lines, and later teased the lead riff in “Ghost” and “BDTNL.”
But following this segment, Trey again appeared to hijack the jams from his band mates and many songs were cut short. At several points it seemed as though the band was trying to stretch out, but the jam would be aborted for another song rather than venturing further out. “Twist” reached a point of transcendent jamming toward the end, but instead of seeing it through, the opening of “Ghost” emerged. Now, I will say that this segue was smooth and did not seem forced at all, but the lost potential was disappointing. The most frustrating of these came when the long-awaited “Ghost” was aborted for the second “BDTNL” in five shows.
There’s no question Phish has taken the next step, but this inconsistency has left myself and many others wondering.
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
Set 1: First Tube, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Camel Walk, Heavy Things, Gotta Jibboo, Wilson > Seven Below > Kill Devil Falls, Axilla > Split Open and Melt, Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Tweezer > No Quarter, Carini > Piper > Twist > Ghost > Backwards Down the Number Line
Encore: Show of Life > Tweezer Reprise
 Phish debut.
 No Quarter teases from Trey.
Notes: This gig featured the Phish debut of Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter. Trey subsequently teased No Quarter in both Ghost and Number Line.
SOURCE: Busman Bsc1 (Hypers)>HYDRA silver Shorty XLR’s>Fostex FR-2LE(Busman T-mod) @24/96
Tuesday, Phish made their way to Holmdel, NJ for the band’s first performance at the venue since 2000. The intimate, ball-park style venue is a throwback classic summer shed (as oppose to Bethel’s state of the art design that spoiled us this weekend) with terrific sound and a cool flying-saucer like roof in the pavilion. But none of these factors helped to energize last night’s performance, which at times seemed uninspired and choppy. After the final night in Bethel remained somewhat standard, many had expected PNC to “blow up.” But this was not the case at all.
The first set kicked off with a charging version of “Chalkdust” but then quickly changed pace with “Roggae.” This choppy flow continued to run through the first set and prevented the music from fully taking flight. For much of the set, Trey appeared to hijack the jams from his band mates leading them through guitar-driven type I as oppose to the exploratory, group-led improv we witnessed in Bethel.
When Mike would make an attempt to depart from the structure, Trey would lasso the music back into place. This resulted in Mike seeming noticeably frustrated following “Sand,” and I couldn’t blame him. The playing was far from tight at points, and even suffered from a massive flub from Trey at the beginning of “Divided.” This was not the tight group that we saw jamming as a unit in Bethel, and many of us were left scratching our heads at setbreak.
Set two, while inhibited by an early curfew, also failed to fully take off. Aside from a seemingly forced jam on “After Midnight” and a patch of ambient type II following “Drowned,” the set had few highlights worthy of mention. Page’s solo on “Maze” is worth your time—his playing has been downright nasty this tour. But aside from that, let this one slip between the cracks. Let’s just hope the band has its landing gear working tonight.
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Roggae, Punch You In the Eye, The Moma Dance > Rock and Roll, Sand, Tube > The Divided Sky, Character Zero
Set 2: After Midnight > Possum, Drowned > Maze, Dirt, Alaska, You Enjoy Myself
Notes: Trey dedicated Sand to “Max.” Fire contained alternate lyrics “move on over, let Cactus take over!”