Fareed Haque & Math Games 3.11.11
Math Games wsg Dragon Wagon 3.11.2011
The Elbow Room- Ypsilanti, MI
Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
I hadn’t seen a show for almost three weeks before this evening, and as I walked into The Elbow Room in Ypsilanti, a comforting sense of familiarity came over me. These joyous feelings of nostalgia carried me towards the stage to peep a bit of the opening set from local bluegrass friends, Dragon Wagon. It’s quite alright that Dragon Wagon doesn’t have the technical abilities to blow your mind or bring about the thought of, “Oh my, how are they playing that!?!” Music doesn’t need that element to accomplish what its creators set out to do. What Dragon Wagon does offer is a pleasant sound that is nothing but enjoyable, and on this night, the fellas brought a vibe that went hand in hand with my relaxed spirit. We all need to kick back and get down every now and again. This was a perfect opportunity for me to begin forgetting about the forty-plus hours of work I’d put in since Monday and get rowdy for the sake of my sanity!
It was unfortunate that fiddle player Diana Ladio couldn’t make it to the show, but frontman/guitarist Don Sicheneder and the boys laid down a fun opening set regardless of her absence. As the set progressed, The Elbow Room began to fill with folks young and old which led me to think that there would be a damn fine turnout for the show. Towards the end of Dragon Wagon’s set, Sicheneder welcomed to the stage the evening’s undisputed star...guitarist Fareed Haque. The band proceeded to play two tunes with Haque as he chimed in beautifully intricate acoustic lines over Dragon Wagon’s energetic bluegrass gallop. Haque’s sit-in made me remember just how brilliant the man is at making music in the live setting, and as the set finished, my hunger and excitement for more guitar virtuosity was hard to contain. I needed more, more, more!
I spoke with Fareed before Math Games took the stage, and he was unexpectedly apologetic about the evening’s situation. He told me about a few unfortunate events such as the absence of his drummer Greg Fundis because of personal issues and also about the disappearance of a special cable that denied his access to his Moog guitar. I took this as hyperbole in an attempt to curb any disappointment that I might encounter, and indeed it was. There was nothing to worry about, Fareed! My first Math Games experience unfolded into a sonic journey that only Fareed Haque could lead me through. Wow is all I can say...
Stemming from Haque’s compositions based upon out-of-the-box ideas like the fibonacci sequence, Math Games’ primary jam-vehicle is funky jazz-fusion that grooves to the highest degree. Other subtleties also came into play such as spacious, textural passages as well as Haque’s constant use of guitar effects. His tones mixed-in perfectly with the other members and brought an added depth to the complex rhythms that were presented. The set was spot-on musically, and I couldn’t have asked for more. Alongside bassist Alex Austin and fill-in drummer Griffin Bastian (The Macpodz), Haque played his games with the audience all night as he expanded upon his songs with a harmonic and melodic range that left me with my jaw scraping the floor in utter disbelief. I’ve seen very few guitarists, if any, that have the combination of knowhow and the elbow grease of Fareed Haque...if you’ve never listened to him before, or even if you’ve seen a thousand of his shows, you should probably listen to more and definitely check out Math Games for a raging good time. I know all of my friends and I certainly had one!
Greg’s Photo Gallery From The Show