, attached to 2015-12-30

Review by Hamphish

Hamphish Catching the first 3 nights of the MSG 15-16 run has inspired me to write my first review, because I liked them.

The first set was good and featured some well-played versions of some of my favorites: Free ripped, Simple had great fills and soloing from Trey, 555 made me realize how much I actually like the song, and 46 Days closed nicely. Roggae was sweet (go Mike!) but left me wanting more after some of the versions from the summer. I'll mention my disappointment with the Halloween songs here: if they're not going to be jammed/shaken up, they are just too repetitive and simple to be played stand-alone. I do think there is SO much potential (Mann N1 was so so fun) so hopefully new opportunities will arise once some of the novelty factor wears off (I hope I'm allowed to say that).

But the second set made the show, as it does for many of us. These thoughts are in no way final; I could write a few pages on CDT alone but I'll try to spare you all.

Chalkdust: the first type II jam forecasted the kind of free-form, collective jamming that was to come the next few nights. Characterizing this particular jam is tough; within its psychedelic speed-space rock frame each band member touches on many many motifs, resulting in a series of 1-2 minute sections weaving together rather chaotically. It's an aural version of looking at the Mann Cities through a kaleidoscope after feeding it steroids. If that makes sense. At times this could be frustrating; potential peaks were dropped in favor of more spacey explorations, and several times the band locked into a really interesting musical idea only to quickly abandon it. But viewed collectively its subtle twists and turns work very well -- Fishman's hard-driving backdrop gives the jam purpose along with its grit. The ending shift to major mode and fade out to ghost is really pretty, btw.

Ghost/New Song Sandwich: Don't complain about the lack of Ghost jamming, this set didn't need it. The sandwich was fun, although executed a little clumsily. I don't have much to say about CAL, it's a 70s rock song in the vein of Blaze On. Instead of Ghost going deep it segued into Waves, which I will never complain about.

Waves: I love this song and the between-verse solo was played very well. I also love ambient, spacey jams so I really dug the wholesome 3 minutes of sonic saturation as a bridge between the upbeat Waves proper and Gin.

Gin: The opening section after the vocal jam has us flip flopping from major to minor and back to a particularly floaty and heady section, to which the taurus bombs were icing on the cake. This is probably the most locked-in the band is all night; some of these changes really seem composed. They toy with a lovely, spontaneous Trey-started and Trey-ended movement around 10:40 but it quickly fades to the Gin theme. Man if they had jammed on that theme for just a few minutes I would probably have cried. Fortunately the return of Gin proper results in descending major flurries from Trey a la the Japan '00 6/15 Ghost and 6/9 Tweezer which loops under a stunning group peak. This jam is fun, danceable, exploratory, euphoric, and emotionally powerful all in one. It deserves its highlighting for sure.

Mike's: This was my first one and it really killed. Mike's Song was short but don't let that deter you from listening -- the Trey/Page interplay with the latter wailing on the Clav between the former's staccato funk lines was dirty. Dirty. Bouncing was a nice break from the madness that surrounded.

What's The Groove: First paug section had some nice playing. The transition though is one of my favorite live moments I've seen and is seriously flawless considering the tempo change. So out of left field and so so well done, I think musically better than Magnaball what with Mike's Floydian fills and Page's twinklings. The > (in my opinion, ->) back to Weekapaug saw some great bouncy jamming with the ALS tease absolutely pumping up the crowd. And why not just throw in a sick funky clav section to end it?

I thought set II was the most cohesive of the run (I haven't heard 1/2 II besides Tweezer though), although you could argue the best single jam comes from another night. The song selection yielded fantastic variety of jamming, and within jams there was a noticeable drive for creativity, even in the shorter ones. I think the Drive In Jam really made an impact on how the 4 band members interact with each other during improvisation, as some of the ideas showcased tonight and in this run are truly unique to my young ears, even if not all of them were successful.


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