, attached to 2014-07-05

Review by BigBrotherD

BigBrotherD Crowd Control- I feel like this song is a perfect opener. It begs introspection, and sets the mood for the band/crowd energy transfer that keeps both parties coming back for more. The band seems to agree, with it locking down the opening gig in a full three quarters of its appearances. Well played version to set up...

MFMF- This song seems innocent at first, out for a nice stroll, but inevitably My Friend growls out from the depths of a dark alley, and before you know it, MIFE. Standard version. Definitely glad the ending's back. It's not the same without the MIFE.

Mule- No sooner had we escaped the knife than we look up to see this particular Mule bearing down on us with extra ferocity. It starts kicking right away, and doesn't let up. And then comes the Duel. I get the feeling that Dr. Moses Moses has spent every waking moment since New Year's Eve practicing his Marimba Lumina. Tonight's solo was less gimmicky than 2013 versions, and a very cool addition. Of note: Trey's portion of the duel, which is obviously not the easiest segment to play, was close to spot on. I'm a pretty big Mule fan, and this one was thoroughly enjoyable.

Undermind- I adore this song. It's catchy, fun, and has obviously shown tremendous potential over the years. Equally as comfortable in the first quarter as it is in the third, it can either stay tight and playful, or stretch its legs out and drift off into the unknown. In this case it did the former, despite Fishman's attempt to draw out the ending a couple more measures.

ASIHTOS- This was a very straight forward version. It certainly soared and wailed its way to guitar rock glory, mind you, but it was also succinct, and well placed.

I Didn't Know- Always a fun time, and if we're not going to get any Neil Diamond or Syd Barrett, at least we still get a little Moses Dewitt. I love that what started out as pure silliness has turned musically interesting over years, as Fish has learned to play vacuum solos that do anything but suck.

Foam- huge Foam fan, when it's played well. The band have mentioned this song many times over the years as one of their hardest songs to play, so let's keep that in mind when I say that this version was nearly spotless. They even stuck the ending, showing once again that they truly are THE entertainers.

Wombat- Making its first appearance of what is sure to be many this Summer, this marsupial brings out the band's best James Brown. Funky, and oozing potential, you can tell this cuddly number could have gone on for hours, but it decided it wasn't quite time yet to flex its muscles like its fiery brother the night before.

Divided Sky- Gotta love the magic of the music. Somehow this song always makes the breeze blow. Even during the crazy Deer Creek fever dream of 2012, I swear the temperature dropped from 106 to at least 104. Reasonably well played version, and if you're keeping track we're up to three relatively difficult compositions so far, played without any real incident.

Wading in the Velvet Sea- Such a beautiful song, and I'd rather hear it here than in the middle of a Mike's Groove. That being said, during this version I thought about how Trey's new shoulder-strap pad makes him look like a shaggy cyborg, how I wish there were more "I'm Antelope Greg" shirts out there (like a lot more), and finally, wondered how many other dudes have to hug their girlfriends extra tight during the sappy vocal part, while at the same time suddenly remembering that there's a Sox game on, and wondering what the score might be, and whether or not she'll notice if they subtly pull their phone out, and ultimately deciding against it because maybe they both won't be too tired later to fool around back at the hotel. And by then, Trey was in the middle of his solo, which, as I said, was beautiful.

Bowie- You could smell this Bowie coming a mile away, and it also seemed like a very logical transition from Wading. So much so that I was surprised to learn that the two haven't been paired together before. Bowie went to work closing out the first set with standard precision, and included some beautiful Trey/Page interplay. In fact, I feel like the peak was all about Page, though the whole band obviously shredded this one out as well. Always a good choice to end the set. Ready for a break, yet ready for more.

Set 2

Carini- This Carini reminded me of a video circulating not too long ago of a rare Pallas's Wild Cat, of the Tibetan Plateau, discovering a video camera outside it's cave. It starts out tentative, and maybe even a little frightened by its own shadow, and then gets down right cuddly, before settling into a repetitive rhythm and going about its day in the Himalayas. It was peaceful, and happy, and had just a touch of terror lurking over in the corner. A little too peaceful and meandering for my taste, as Carinis go. This one seemed to start out with some guitar issues, and never really found its footing. Just as it finally seemed like it had located, and was beginning to stalk its prey...

Waves- Jumped out and scared Carini back into it's hole. The first jam stayed within the Bertha structure, but did some interesting things with it as well. The second jam, however, took a delicate leap into the stratosphere (on the wind and under water, if you will). Definitely worth another listen, and made me forget I had wanted the Carini to go on a bit longer. Waves washed onto the shore and into a brief pause before

Wing Suit- Which could have seamlessly blended out of Waves, but hey, it's a new song. Everyone 's still ironing out the kinks. A well placed breather, and a nice metaphor for the band's transformation and growth over the years, with the "What's new is old, what's old is gone" lyrics. Or maybe they're just a band of dudes trying to play a good show every day, and have fun doing it, and we should all stop trying to read too much into it and think Fishman's going to know what the hell the "Second Jam" in Mike's is. Either way, This song's really growing on me, and the ambient drill outro played perfectly into Piper, which makes it a logical tool for the arsenal, as Piper can get a little clunky coming out of a lot of other songs.

Piper- This version was purely professional, and got right down to business. The band patiently picked apart the red red worm, before suddenly plowing forward, full steam ahead, into a tunnel with particularly interesting tile walls, and emerging on the other side, right smack dab in the middle of Joe Walsh's garage, which it promptly blew roof off of as it reached for the tremendous peak that Pipers do best. As the song tumbled down the other side, they could have easily finished off last night's Bathtub Gin, like Fluffhead cleaning up his patio the morning after his 4th of July party.

Fluffhead- But instead, we get a relatively smooth transition into Fluff's travels. Now here let's go ahead and note that anyone's fingers and brain are bound to get a little tired after a Mule Duel, Foam, Divided Sky, and Bowie. Still, it was a rough stumble out of the gate for this Fluff's Travels. But just when Trey was starting to look concerned about what he'd gotten himself into, all of a sudden The Chase was on. Who did? We did. Then Clod checked out a strange noise Trey's guitar had started making, before a brilliantly played bundle of joy, and a typically climatic arrival, which is really where we've all been trying to get in the first place. Overall an enjoyable Fluffhead, despite the flubs at the beginning.

Heavy Things- Felt like when they turned on the lights at Cypress. In the beginning of the fourth frame, it's a happy, fun song (minus the lyrics), with a great LEO solo (and some great Page/Fish interplay), and even though I sigh every time it starts, I always find myself thinking it could have been worse by the end. And the band certainly had fun playing it. It's like bouncing. It won't save your life, but...

Slave- will. I'm guessing Carini/Slave bookends were the favorite going into the post in good old Saratoga. Contrary to the normal closing pace, however, this Slave spent relatively little time at the city and the zoo before hopping on the Autobahn, gunning it up the side of a very large mountain, and exploding at the peak. Which would have made for an amazing ending for the set, had the burning wreckage not landed in the muck that was the beginning of...

YEM- I think everyone would have been happy if the set had ended after Slave, especially with a YEM encore, but that was not to be. This version featured a particularly rocky start (read: Trey forgot the whole thing), but settled down after the high hat kicked in, and sailed along through mostly smooth waters from there on out. Particularly noteworthy was the very nice Trey/Mike interplay after the tramps section. In the end, Mike soloed away, while Trey channelled his inner DirectTV commercial even more energetically than usual, and a standard Vocal Jam closed out the set. I'll never turn my nose up at a YEM, but this one seemed like more of an afterthought at times. Or icing, depending on your perspective.

E: Show of Life politely stepped out of the way for a typically rocking Suzy. Like Julius, or Possum, you can't really go wrong with a good Suzy Greenberg. Excellent cap on an above average night. Nothing mind blowing, but a heavy dose of technically trying and proficiently played numbers in Mule, Foam, Divided Sky, Bowie, Fluffhead, and YEM. Also of note, still no covers (and if the wasn't a Loving Cup encore waiting to happen, I don't know what is). Surrender to the flow.


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