Let’s give it up for an epic “Jam-uary 2015” guys! I’m not positive if that’s actually a real thing or not. If it is, then what could be better than a Lotus tour to close out the month?! Their stops in Vermont, Boston, and Connecticut this weekend are still only the beginning of a four month stretch of shows, one of the longest running tours of their career. Such a commitment to the asphalt might seem overwhelming to some, but these guys are killing it to be frank. The great thing about jambands and improv-acts is that the more they play, the better they get. I suspect after a week’s worth of “warming up”, these guys will be riding a mean wave by the time they get to Boston on Friday night. Check out a fan video of their recent performance in Pittsburgh >>>
Unlike a lot of other bands in their class, you can almost always count on Lotus to deliver. Over the last few years this Philly-based electronic jamband seems to have really found the sound they’ve been looking for. They’re taking more risks in their improv, their song-writing is getting more intricate, and they’re taking the old material to new places with considerably developed jamming (that’s “improvising” to the Lamens). Mike Rempel is still good at weirding you out with over-abundant eye-contact, but he’s also shredding the funk better than ever. With Electron being back in the picture, drummer Mike Greenfield is the most live getting practice he could ask for. A lot is happening for this quintet, and this tour is a huge testimony of that. They put the work in and that’s what counts these days. You can tell they practice, and that they’re serious about what they do and don’t take it for granted. They’re locked into their music 100% of the time, regardless of taste or quality, although they shine in both contexts. If The Disco Biscuits or Phish have taught jam-fans anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take them for granted either. Every show is a new adventure into the funky, jam-fueled Cosmos. Head out to one of the dates below and you’ll see what I mean. Who could ever take such a thing for granted? (wink wink)
American Babies is hitting the road for a fall tour! You can’t go far in the Northeastern jam-scene without hearing about these guys lately. Babies is yet another Philadelphia super group featuring guitarist Tom Hamilton as the frontman. Since forming in 2007 the band has done impressively well to fill the hole that his other group, Brother’s Past, has left since going on hiatus. When they’re not playing their own compositions, this band takes classic songs like Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” and open new doors with improvised experimental jamming. With Phish playing out West, and The Disco Biscuits going into hibernation until New Years, it’s a great feeling to get excited about a jam band tour again. See where they’re playing below>>>
If Mugatu was a real person, he’d probably say “Tom Hamilton…so hot right now”. The Philly guitarist has been making headlines left and right lately, and it’s no surprise. Hamilton has made a name for himself as one of the most respected musicians in the jamband circuit. It seems like that audience is only getting bigger these days too. Whether playing with Electron, his cult followed group Brother’s Past, or his many other side-projects, he puts 100% passion into his performances. American Babies are here stay it appears, and if they keep going at this rate they’ll be headlining theaters like The Best Buy in no time at all. I think we can even say, guitar-wise, that 2014 is indefinitely The Year Of The T-Ham.
Phish officially kicked off their 2014 Summer Tour at the Xfinity Center in eastern Massachusetts the other night. While they did play a hefty chunk of material from their just-released studio album ‘Fuego’, the second set takes you right back to the 20th century. The band got a chance to break in their new catalog and gain a stage perceptive of the fan’s reaction. The crowd heard the songs live for technically the second time (the band played the entire album in Chicago last summer), and they themselves were able to get a more raw feel of the new tunes. Everybody wins. That’s where it counts anyhow. These guys were basically born to play on stage, come on. A studio experience is really just simple fun when you think about it. They had no hesitation in proving it either. In the second set they really threw things into 5th gear with some immense improv, and exploratory playing from lead guitarist Trey Anastasio. Now Phish has made their way to NY for three solid nights at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, starting TONIGHT! We highly recommend heading down early on Friday to catch the oh-so-funky Z3, featuring original Zappa tunester Ed Mann himself, perform the Phourth of July Official Pre-Party! Have a great Independence Day you rascals.
( Xfinity Center- Mansfield, MA )
Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Fuego, Back on the Train, Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, 555, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Birds of a Feather, Wingsuit
Mike’s Song, Simple, Free, Waiting All Night, Ghost, Weekapaug Groove, Harry Hood, Cavern, (Encore) Julius
Join us for an evening with Umphrey’s McGee in Northampton, MA this Friday October 18th! The cult-followed jamband band will be performing at the Calvin Theater for their seventh time, a venue that has been cited by Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits as “one of our favorite places to play in the country”. Only a month has passed since their headline-worthy tour with STS9 culminated, and the funky quintet is on the road again, this time one on one, with two sets.
When it comes to Umphrey’s McGee it’s hard to view them through a particular scope. In terms of both technicality and style, they have mastered not just one signature sound, but many. Their song structures are typically variations of rock songs written with alternative or progressive themes, fused with well written funk, classical, psychedelic, and orchestrated compositions. Unlike some other acts, these guys bring HUGE doses of improvisation to the table, without question and without flaw. To each their own, but when the focus is solely left on the tightness of the group’s playing, they are impeccable. A shining example of such skill lies with the band’s lead guitarist, Jake Cinninger.
The most fundamental and intrinsic characteristic of UM‘s sound is the precision harmony displayed in the segments/solos between guitarists Jake and front-man Brendan Bayliss. The chemistry shared between these two mammoth guitar players and the other members is the catalytic agent that’s propelled them through the years without any static. Bayliss’ execution of the harmonized sections certainly gives us some insight to his competency as a musician, but he still represents the role of a rhythm guitarist. Jake Cinninger is the band’s strongest weapon. Seemingly immune to any friction, you’ll often hear him transition through hard metal riffing, jazz, funk, blues, melodic, psychedelic, and pure rock playing, and at any tempo. On top of his abilities as a jam-virtuoso, his placement of such techniques is on point every time.
Weapon of Choice: On their last tour he was playing with a GNL Legacy that he’s been using since the 90’s, which is the Stratocaster’s brother(the company helped to produce stratocaster’s in the late 50’s and early 60’s). A perfect guitar for a player like this. His rig on stage consists of around 15 different effects pedals. Each are all simultaneously linked to a True Bypass Rig, which allows him to assign any configuration of multiple effects to one particular number on the device. This way, he can custom design his sound catalogue for each specific show. Here’s another way to look at it; Wolverine has equipped himself with an arsenal of destructive futuristic rifles on top of his adamantium claws, and you are the mutant-hunting Sentinel’s about to be ripped to shreds.
Now some people might say, “Jambands? People still listen to that Grateful Dead crap”? We say… To hell with ya. Long ago you see, when AOL and MTV were trusted media conduits, and characters still smoked cigarettes in Disney films, jambands were a very relevant thing in contemporary music, particularly the 90’s. We’re not stupid, of course this movement is still in gear. Of course Phish still sells out Madison Square Garden every New Years Eve, but this is the electronic age, and Skrillex and Miley Cyrus decide the fate music now. We like to think we’re here to show you what makes a particular artist unique, and/or how they perform live. We present the music to you, for you to form your own opinion on it. We’re admittedly fond of the concept of jambands though. They, are at least dynamic. You may not be a fan of the music? Sure. But to deny the potential sight of such extreme displays of musicianship is plain foolish. Really it’s a music lover’s wet dream. No same concert is the same, and you see a new version of each song every time it’s played live. With at least an hour of music per set, and the fact that most touring jambands record each of their performances, you’re getting the equivalent of a new album with each concert played. A reoccurring complaint from those who don’t find appeal with this musical direction that listeners get bored with a 30 minute song with minimal vocal sections. The way we see it, it is up the artists not to bore you. In recent years, the Jam scene has changed form. Phish, a legendary act in their respective class, has drifted further away from their roots in improv since their return from hiatus in 2009. A few tours here and there have reached the level of on-stage jamming(Tahoe“Tweezer” Summer 2013) that they had once mastered, but for the most part their setlists are packed with more songs, and less improvising. Fans of The Disco Biscuits, a group known for their patented fusion of electronic music with various styles jazz and rock compositions, have grown frustrated with the band’s recent lack of consistency and tour dates over the last 3 years. Time moves forward, and sometimes the music does not. No complaints have been mailed in to Umphrey’s McGee as far as we can tell though. The band is playing with as much momentum as they’ve ever had, and certainly don’t “bore”.
Now, stop snoring, and get yourself to the party ladies and frogs. Kicking off their 20+ date tour tonight in Burlington, VT, they’ll good and warmed up for Friday’s show. This will be one of the highlight fall dates in New England. We’ll even show you where to purchase tickets (<here!).
This past summer showcased a particularly memorable onslaught of Jam Band assaults on the country, and now it is spilling into the fall. The so called “STUM” tour with Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 (which just ended this weekend) made multiple headlines in places like Jambase and Deathwaltz Media Group. Phish is just culminating a phenomenal summer tour, breaking open the heads of their fans with Herculean jams like the much obsessed 37 minute “Tweezer” in Lake Tahoe, or the recent 23 minute “Chalk Dust Torture” opener in Colorado. The Disco Biscuits’ performances at the annual Camp Bisco this year were undeniably their best of 2013 thus far. We can’t leave out the fact that alongside the festival hosts, the stage was shared with Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, and STS9. The last time all four of those bands were together was Rothbury 2009! Those are just a few highlights, needless to say it was a huge summer for these guys.
After you clean the mud out of your car from the festivals, or the fast food remains from being on the road, we’ll help you gear up for the season change. We certainly hope your summer was a spacey ride, but the impending chills are coming with some thrills. If your sense of reality and your wallet can take it, the upcoming months are overflowing with dates in the Northeast. The festival season still has the green light; check out the Catskill Chill Music Festival this weekend featuring Lotus, RAQ, Kung Fu, Brother’s Past, and others. On October 18th Phish will kick off their Fall Tour with a three night run in Hampton,VA. Just weeks away the 2nd Annual City Bisco will take place at the gorgeous Mann Center in Philadelphia! The event will feature four sets from The Disco Biscuits as well as performances by Shpongle, Emancipator, Gigamesh, Method Man & Redman, Treasure Fingers, and a whole lot more. The fanbase for Zoogma has sprouted a huge growth over the last year, and they have quite a few dates coming up in New England. That’s just to butter you up, check out all the links below for what’s in store for some of the most elite improv bands this fall season!
Catskill Chill Music Festival
September 6-8th Camp Minglewood- Hancock, NY (HAPPENING NOW!)
The Disco Biscuits Present City Bisco
September 27-28th The Mann Center- Philadelphia, PA
After a month long hiatus, Phish launched the second leg of their summer tour with their brief stay in the West Coast this week. Viewers at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center witnessed an epic climax to the first half of the 2012 Summer Tour, giving the phans enough time to make their way to southern California for the final stages of the nationwide run. Trey and the gang took the stage at the Long Beach Arena this past Wednesday for what turned out to be one of the most talked about performances yet. The atmosphere was dismal at first with the 13,500 capacity establishment not even filling up minutes before the quartet were begin playing, perhaps being one of the least attended shows in the last decade, but the intimacy gave way for some of the most revered jams played this summer.
Despite being back from dead after a five year long departure from the scene, until recently, many had been left disappointed by the rock deities; predominantly lacking in the long improvised jams and transitions they were once hailed for. The anticipated reunion at the Hampton Coliseum in 2009 was a dark footnote in the bands history, playing 25 songs just the first night. Kevin O’Donnell of Rolling Stone wrote “There was nothing outlandish about Phish’s show last night at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia — except for the fact that it was the jam-band kings’ first show in almost five years.” Much of the sets that followed that year gave older followers the impression of a new band entirely. Although all masters of their forte, and still thriving in their niches, Phish seemed complacently apprehensive to breaking any boundaries in their jams, barely breaching ten minutes in most of the songs they played. The band improved in 2010(highlights included their first festival in years, Super Ball), but they still remained inconsistent. These performances didn’t disappoint per say, so much as they didn’t satisfy the expectations of their long running, devoted patrons. On the other hand, what good is a jam band without the jam?
All that is irrelevant when juxtaposed to the current summer tour however. Its basically 97′ all over again, and the band is on fire. Arguably the best tour these guys have played since their return, chock full of vitality and consecutive on-point executions. A seventeen minute Divided Sky jam in Portsmouth, VA during the first leg of the tour was a prevalent example of the bands commencing streak. Not only resurrecting their long overdue improvised segments, they played songs left in the freezer for almost two decades, like the first Shaggy Dog since 1995 played in Cincinnati. The West Coast opening show was undoubtedly one for the books. A rare and energetic Suzy Greenberg, the first time Phish opened with that song in 17 years, initiated the second leg. Just two minutes into the performance Page McConnell ripped into a fierce keyboard solo, throwing every pair of feet in the building into rhythmic calamity. Most noteable so far though was the 25 minute Long Beach Rock and Roll jam, the longest jam of 3.0 so far. The initial song was consistent in structure, but what followed was an expansion of one of the most engaging, thematic sequences of augmented jams I’ve heard, both in the context of the band’s modern era and music as a whole.
Immediately following the captivating RnR overture was a particularly border-crossing Ghost. Phish entered the intro with the low funky overtones characteristic of the song, but also as a transformation of the previous leviathan. Themes of the verse and choruses had a sort of anthem feel to them, which carried into an uptempo rock-funk bridge. The song quickly took a turn into a theme reminiscent of the bridge, with Trey laying out the rolling licks up the neck and Page heavy on the Clav in the background. It then settles into Mike Gordon taking the lead on bass with the others trailing in low pitches behind him. The jam slows and slows until until it eventually begins to climb back up, saturating more and more into a culmination of Trey’s wailing pitch benders and landing into a well placed Limb by Limb. It doesn’t just depend on the quantity of the jam though, the cover of Cities by The Talking Heads will attest to that notion. I don’t think David Bryne himself could have played a better version of than the one played in Long Beach; seven minutes of the sexiest and low down funky licks that I have heard them deliver with this cover. Few bands can surpass or achieve equal status with a rendition of a past icon’s work, one success is The Disco Biscuit’s cover of Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell. The band has really turned the cover into a masterpiece of their own while still leaving the core elements intact, thus giving respect to their predecessors and in turn the right to bring it stage. Phish does this even better. They can really cover any song flawlessly and still give homeage to the creators.
Four people being together for so long and still maintaining that kind of chemistry is a genuine phenomenon, and an indisputable component to the force they’re playing with on this run. Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon’s Guelah Papryus dance choreography antics at the Arena Wednesday were just a small example of the covalent bond they’ve shared for over twenty years. Any skepticism is left weightless in the wake of the second leg of this summers tour, and I hope it keeps. These guys are killing it and happier than ever.