, attached to 2016-07-18

Review by mattybweston

mattybweston Hey all,

I'm sure Philbombs77 will probably get torched so I'll jump onto that pyre with him. First- my bona fides. First show- the Mrs. Pizza Face gig at Trax in Charlottesville, 11/15/91. Show count- hundreds all across the country. Time spent on tour- hundreds and hundreds of days. Treasure spent with this band- untold dollars.

My commitment to this music and our scene (coming out of the unraveling Dead scene) has never waivered, even to the detriment of my education, career and family. And yet until this tour (and for a spell in 2004) it seems that it has all been worth it. It seemed that the band understood and respected the amount of commitment and sacrifice that their fans make in creating the gift of an attentive, intelligent, forgiving, travelling audience. And in return all we asked was that they brought it hard and tried something daring. If it failed we were there to pick 'em up, dust 'em off, slap their backs and head out to the next show. It seemed a symbiotic relationship.

And then the first half of Summer 2016..... I've got a new family but thanks to technology I can listen to every show the day after (which I do religiously at least twice each), watch selected shows and then poach a few each year in person. The first half of Summer '16 was shocking, particularly with spectacular Magnaball and the fun-if-not-spectacular La Playa so close in the rearview mirror.

How shocking?- The flubs for the composed sections were obvious to all. Seemingly unnoticed was a certain member who seemed incapable of remembering chords in a majority of songs. With Mike turned down so low in the mix the result was an enormous hole in the sound. I was on tour when Mr. Garcia had the same problem but with a rhythm guitarist and two drummers there were others to step up and fill the void. My kids even commented while watching SPAC on the webcast- "Why is he just holding the neck of his guitar?" Good question.

To continue Philbombs77's baseball analogy, most of this tour seems like Spring Training and some of the players are woefully out of shape. Fair enough- but to hop on a tour that thousands of fans have planned their lives around in such shape feels more than a little like a giant middle finger to our whole collective endeavor.

The "play yourself into shape" plan appears to finally be working but it took well over half of the tour to get there. Last night's Halley's finally hit the outro jam running, Roggae felt like we got several small peaks in there and Sally was fantastically inspired. Add the Gin of 7/16/16 and the Ghostlight of Great Woods 7/8 (it will always be Great Woods) and those are the highlights of the Summer. Four songs in 15 performances? WTF?

I will forever love this band, this scene and you freaks and my skin is thick enough to handle your daggers. I do/will take umbrage to the "you had to be there" and "no reviews from the couch" crowd. Isn't the entire point of this community that it's amazing if you are there, but if not we can share the next best thing? My favorite relistens are not exclusively from shows that I've attended- does that mean I'm not allowed to scream out loud in traffic when things turn epic (10 years after it was recorded)? I'm hopeful that this tour takes the momentum of portions of the Gorge and BCCA1 and shifts into a higher gear- one that we (especially those on tour) are more accustom to and quite frankly deserve.

I hope everyone on the road stays safe and that this tour, while taking far to long to get there, finishes like last summer.

Oh yeah- I find anonymity on the internet to be bullshit and a recipe for acerbic abuse so I'll put my name on it-

Matty Weston in Austin


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