Leftover Salmon with Gipsy Moon & Grant Farm 4.18 - 4.19.14

Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

Leftover Salmon warmed up for their massive 4.20 Street Show at Cervantes with two nights at the Aggie Theater. A spring stop in Fort Collins is becoming a bit of a tradition with LoS. The Aggie announced earlier in the week that both shows would be 21+, meaning two things: A lot of younger fans were shut out and there wasn't an awkward fence line in the middle of the venue. Friday night featured lots of room while Saturday was borderline sold out. Gipsy Moon started off the festivities at the ungodly hour of 8:00 PM. We arrived just as they were wrapping up their set. This band is a ball of magic, focused on making a sincere connection with their audience. Mackenzie Page is mesmerizing while the combination of Silas Herman on mandolin and David Matters on guitar creates a powerful foundation for this astounding band.

Leftover Salmon treated us to two sets both nights. This band is finally finding a secure footing after the addition of Alwyn Robinson on drums and Little Feat’s Bill Payne on keys. Payne started as a special addition for a limited number of performances. However, he has been present in the lineup more often than not over the last year. I continue to wait for an official announcement from Salmon regarding Payne’s membership status, but currently I’m just happy he keeps appearing regularly. Night one had a relaxed feel and musically this band is on fire. Since their hiatus and return, Leftover Salmon has been continuously rebuilding. From the expulsion of Bill McKay to Andy Thorn’s replacement of Matt Flinner it seems that this band has been searching for equilibrium. It’s safe to say that Salmon has finally found that balance. Their onstage antics between Drew, Greg, Vince and Andy was proof this band is finding utter enjoyment in their performances nightly. The relaxed feel of night one was replaced by a fervor on night two.

The Grant Farm, on the cusp of releasing a their new album, Plowin’ Time, opened up the second show. Everyone I talk to has some preconceived notion on what this band should sound like. Most remember Grant as a flat picking champion or as a member of Emmitt Nershi Band. When Grant Farm takes the stage, opinions are shattered by the explosive rock sound that blasts from the speakers. They played for about an hour and by the end it was obvious that many more fans had opted for the Saturday show. The floor had filled in nicely when Salmon came under the spotlights.

Leftover Salmon left a lasting impression on the audience from night one. They took that energy and carried through the entire weekend. Most of the die-hard Salmon fans were heavily anticipating the 4.20 Salmon in the Streets show, but Saturday at the Aggie may have been the hidden gem of this three-night run. So many classic tunes like “Zombie Jamboree” and “Ants In My Pants” dotted the setlist to the delight of the crowd. During the second set Vince and company invited Tyler Grant up to lend his incredible guitar skills to the mix. The incomparable Mr. Payne treated us to an impeccable version of Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken,” which was a real highlight for most. This band is back, but that’s not to say they are not constantly innovating and moving forward. Their bluesy bar-rock sound they had with McKay has been replaced by a more refined and classic sound. The interplay between Vince, Andy and Drew is always shifting and moving forward. Their show on Saturday was an absolute high-energy bag of awesome. Leftover Salmon rode that momentum into their massive 4.20 celebration the following day.

Furthermore, the Aggie has long been a pariah of venues along the Front Range. It seems that the constant scrutinization of the Fort Collins Police Department has finally pushed this venue to explore what has been necessary for quite some time, going 21 and up. These two nights with Salmon should be a testament to that endeavor. No issues, calm atmosphere and an utter lack of drama prevailed on the floor as the band played on. I’m not calling for an out and out ban of underage shows at the Aggie, but if you are catering to younger audiences don’t sell booze. It’s that simple. Time will tell if the Aggie can find their own footing again in the Fort Collins music scene, but one thing is for certain Leftover Salmon is creating some of the best music of their career. They have found the proper personnel to propel them back into the spotlight. Salmon is often cited as an innovator and inspiration to bands like the String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band. It is time people remember why. Leftover Salmon is the whole package, and after years of turbulence they are finally swimming in calm waters. Their musical output is at an all time high and I for one could not be happier.

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