Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Twiddle & Jaden Carlson Band 11.13.14

Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Audio By Dan Russ

Twiddle is rapidly making it okay to say words like "jamband" and "noodling improv" again. They are part of a new generation of jam that has taken note of everything that has come before created an extraordinary musical synthesis. Twiddle hails from Vermont the land that Phish made famous. Since their performance at Arise Music Festival, they have been making regular tour stops across Colorado and have been quickly gaining fans here. This tour marked a four show run through the state that began in Fort Collins and ended at the Belly Up in Aspen. They invited Boulder phenom Jaden Carlson and her band to open up the night. Jaden has been wowing audiences all over Colorado for a number of years. I’m not overstating when I say her style is reminiscent of Jeff Beck meeting Jimmy Page. Perhaps more startling, she is barely past her preteens.

Set One: Church> Get Down On It, Nameless, Mudflip, The Wrong Way, Done Did It, No Use Hanging Around, Virtual Insanity, Waiting All Day

She has assembled a power trio consisting of herself on guitar and vocals, Will Trask on drums, and Eric Luba on left hand bass and keys. With Luba cranking out the rhythm with his off hand they have the sound of four players. Their set started early around 8:45 PM. Their music is fusion rock with elements of funk and soul tossed in for good measure. Twiddle keyboardist Ryan Dempsey sat in on “No Use Hanging Around.” Mihali Savoulidis sat in on guitar for “Virtual Insanity.” Jaden is impressive to say the least. She has the skill of a musician well beyond her years. The X’s on her hands were barely visible as she shredded the night away. Seeing her live causes instant fandom. They played for about an hour total before they made way for the headliner.

Twiddle played for a single set that went way past midnight. Each song was a heavily composed piece with huge changes throughout. They opened the night with a reggae infused “Polluted Beauty.”

Set One: Polluted Beauty, Beehop, Carter Candlestick, Apples*, Latin Tang, Frankenfoote**> Be There

Encore: Cabbage Face

*w/ Eric Luba
**w/ Jaden Carlson

The fact that they filled well over two hours time with just seven songs should give you an idea about the scope of this bands jamming capabilities. Taking the classic four-member approach, Twiddle is all business. “Beehop” began as a frenetic jazz tune before it exploded into a heavy progressive rock jam. Fans rejoiced for “Carter Candlestick” that again featured some rapid-fire lyrics from Savoulidis. Eric Luba returned the favor sitting in on “Apples” which sounded a bit like a Dave Matthews tune on speed. They teased Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” during the beginning of “Latin Tang.” This song was a massive musical journey accentuated by Latin tones and reckless abandon. They invited Jaden back to the stage for the bombastic “Frankenfoote.” Twiddle continued on as Carlson exited the stage. They closed with “Be There.” They returned to encore with their driving ode to “Cabbage Face.” This band has it all, versatile vocals juxtaposed against impeccable musicianship makes Twiddle a contender. Seeing them live gives me hope for jam and jam fans alike. They certainly tour like a jam band having already announced their plans to return to The Centennial State in the spring. Twiddle is the great white hope of jam. Their conquest is imminent, wait and see.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

Yonder Mountain String Band & The Larry Keel Experience 11.11.14 (Photos)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Twiddle 11.15.14

Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

As a fan of jam-bands with an ear to the ground, I'd been hearing about Vermont-based rising stars, Twiddle, for a couple of years. I had seen them in Fort Collins a couple of years ago as they opened for The Heavy Pets. We arrived late, but I remember thinking they had a really busy sound. Since that night, I've heard them pop up again and again. I recently saw a video of them covering Phish's "Harry Hood" on the Relix rooftop. It piqued my interests again, and when I had the opportunity to attend the sold out show at Denver's Bluebird Theater, I went for it.

Nursing a hangover from a Friday night of boozing, my motivation was lacking. When the time came, I rallied and made my way to the east side of Colfax. Vowing a night of sobriety, I intended to leave at the set-break. When Twiddle finally hit the stage, they brought the packed house to a frenzy and I knew I was in for the long haul.

At first, I admit I thought they wanted to be Phish too much. The drum solo turned vocal jam was bordering on too Phishy, but to be honest, that was the only moment of the night where their exceedingly obvious appreciation for the jam gods was overbearing. The rest of the show was only Phish-like in ambition. Through heavily compositional passages and into the improvisational deep end, all four members were technical, versatile, and professional.

I watched guitarist Mihali Savoulidis maneuver through intense jamming and obviously composed melodic patterns with dexterity, fluidity, and confidence. He seemed to be enjoying the energetic reciprocity as his smile widened during particularly intense moments of improvisation. Of the very few guitarists in the world that I have described as "surgical" with their precision... Savoulidis was one.

Bass-monster, Zdenek Gubb (wait a minute here, are these names for real?!) was comparably impressive. Fully capable of laying down the supportive low end or dropping face-melters in stride, Gubb was fantastic. At one point the entire band laid down their instruments to listen to Gubb's loop-groove. When he began soloing over the loop, the room went wild. I noted how effortless he made it look, with giant tone coming from what appeared to be a very soft touch.

Ryan Dempsey had to be good on keys, right? With such stellar talents on bass and guitar, it just wouldn't have been right to have a slacker in the band. Dempsey was no slouch. Often responsible for the fullness of their sound in a supportive role, Dempsey made clever choices and peppered integral nuances to their grooves. When the light was on him, he was as capable and talented as anyone else in the band. He not only played keys very well, but he also added a fun energy that led him to stage dive during one of the tunes... Not a typical sight at a jam show.

Last, but not least, drummer Brook Jordan was a musical warden, keeping everything locked down. His rhythms drove the band through a variety of ideas as he subtly and deftly maintained the flow. I think his role reminded me of Phish the most. Jon Fishman had undoubtedly influenced Jordan's style, slipping in intricacies with such casual precision, only the focused ear noticed. Tricky, yet smooth. Impressive.

Impressive was the word. I found myself wishing I'd done some listening before the show. The songs were all new to me, but I could immediately sense the depth, passion, and talent that had earned their reputation. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defined twiddle as "to play negligently with something." I saw a band with far more purpose than their name would suggest.

Brad's Photo Gallery

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trad-Plus & Genetics 11.14.14

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Friday was unusual for me. My lady was out of state and I decided to go hit the town. After a mostly liquid dinner at World of Beer, I was off to The 1up - Colfax. I had never seen Chris Padolfi's solo project, but expected a bluegrass show. I was more than a little surprised by what I heard.

For some reason or another, Trad Plus gave up their headlining slot and gave Genetics the main slot. When Pandolfi and his drummer took the stage, I was really surprised by the sound. Funky, electronic, loop-based jams were punctuated by live drumming, creating a sound that fell somewhere between Break Science and Bela Fleck. Much like Master Fleck, Pandolfi has taken the banjo off the front porch and into the laboratory.

The rich, thick output sounded much fuller than a two piece band would have you expect. During one jam Chris teased Phish's "Sand," bending it to his style and riffing on it before moving on. The project definitely had potential, but felt a bit like a rough draft instead of a developed performance. The strengths lied in Chris's picking and original style. The live drumming gave the project gravity. Since it was only the first performance of Trad-Plus with a drummer, I'm guessing there will be improvement as they build a rapport with each other and the material. It wasn't bad for an early gig in a young band's life.

Having shifted slots with Trad-Plus, Genetics closed things down. Genetics hadn't let me down yet. There was something about their sound that really appealed to me immediately. They caught my attention with their groove-centric flow and thick, wet tone.

It felt as though the night had been inverted. As Trad-Plus finished, several people in the crowd left to go tend to their tomatoes, or play bridge, or something. The floor seemed to thin out before Genetics ever had a chance to wow them. That was a shame. Had they stayed, they'd have been treated to a young band with solid talent, dropping casual electro-funk like bosses.

Sparse vocals and deep diving instrumental passages blended together as they wove their way through songs with no breaks in stride or energy. I admired their ambition, playing to an underwhelming crowd and not letting it weigh on their music at all. They gave 110% regardless, and that spoke to their passion and dedication to their art.

Bassist Joel Searls and drummer Nat Snow had been in bands together before, and it showed. They locked into step and propelled the smooth, svelte sound. Ivory tickler Scott Anderson and guitarist Jeff Ervine added melodic and rhythmic lines which were very supportive in nature, as they fused with the rhythm section to drive a cohesive, balanced mix that was better than most margaritas. All in all, the band was good with a ton of potential to be great. The casual, cavalier ease with which they seemed to play made me wonder what would happen if they really drove it hard.

It was not my first Genetics show, and it certainly won't be my last. I stumbled out of The 1up satisfied. Hammered, but satisfied. I ambled down Colfax, onto the 16th Street Mall Ride, and eventually onto the W line, westbound. Saturday morning was an unwelcome intrusion, and I popped some ibuprofen and went back to bed, a victim of The 1up and her vices.

Brad's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MilkDrive & Porcelain City 11.6.14

Avogadro’s Number

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

I first saw MilkDrive at WinterWonderGrass last year. Over the course of the weekend they played several sets taking ownership of one of the tents in a memorable way. Hailing from Austin, Texas the four-piece group consists of Brian Beken on fiddle, Dennis Ludiker on mandolin, Noah Jefferies on guitar and Jesse Dalton on double bass. However, due to the impeding birth of his daughter, Noah Jeffries flew back home, leaving MilkDrive as a three piece. Again, my search for good music took me to Avogadro’s Number. They have had a number a great shows recently and their Dead Jam continues to draw a large audience. On this night it was mostly a sit down crowd, but an empty seat was hard to find. The evening began with the newly formed Porcelain City. Originally known as the Snake Oil Trio, they have undergone some lineup changes and added a few members making them a trio no longer. Their first set started as a four piece with Nick Bonnet on guitar, Logan Lightfoot on bass, Andy Benson on drums and Danica Cunningham on fiddle. Danica joined the band just two days prior. Megan Rice would unite with them for their closing set to end the show.

Set One: Precious Time, Don’t You Dare Leave Me, No Good Fucker, What I Got, Here I Am, Eastward Bound, At Day’s End, Jam Song

Porcelain City was a blend of hip-hop and sincerity delivered in a jamgrass format. The addition of the drummer gives this band a new foundation on which to build their songs. They did an incredible rendition of Sublime’s “What I Got” mid set. They sounded great and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for Porcelain City.

As stated above MilkDrive sans Noah took the stage around 10 PM. They opened with “Sciota.”

Set One: Sciota, Last Night I Dreamed, Random Access, Dear Prudence, Water Ground, Gulf Road, Leaving, Lady Be Good, Soho, Waves

Set Two: Angeline The Baker, Garfields, Meat Glaze, Squirrel Hunter, Good News Blues, East Virginia, Dry Creek Inn

Milk Drive blends bluegrass with elements of jazz, blues, and more. Their first set they stuck to the three core members before inviting some friends up for set two. Their version of Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” was downright spiritual. There is a striking blend of talent and polish with these pickers. Jesse took the vocals on “Water Ground.” Their attention to detail was apparent with each song. They closed the first set with a beautiful “Waves."

After a short break they returned opening back up with “Angeline The Baker.” They invited Geoff Union up to the stage to play guitar. Geoff is a member of Denver based band, Ragged Union. During the show it came out that Geoff had introduced Jesse the bassist to MilkDrive, which obviously led to him joining the group. Geoff also sang “Meat Glaze,” a tune he wrote based on an experience at a ‘vegan lesbian pot farm community.’ They would eventually invite Christina Union also from Ragged Union up to sing a song. MilkDrive went into Billy Joe Shaver’s “Good News Blues.” After they finished up Porcelain City returned for a short set to close out the night. It being a school night I headed home. Both bands were impressive. It’s never optimal to see a band missing a member and at this show I saw two. I can’t blame Noah for going home to be a daddy. MilkDrive made the most of the set by playing stripped down versions of their original songs and inviting up the Unions to fill out their sound. It was an ideal night in Fort Collins.

Nick's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Euforquestra Big Band, Punch Drunk Munky Funk & The Hodi’s Funk House Band 10.31.14

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
(Fat Guerilla Productions)

This year Halloween was jam packed with pivotal events across the country. Many music fans opted to head to Las Vegas for three nights of Phish with a wide array of supporting shows including moe.’s Big Lebowski set, Greensky Bluegrass, and more. Here in Colorado Widespread Panic announced three nights at the First Bank Center. Despite the nearness of WSP, I chose to stay local with Euforquestra’s Big Band performance at Hodi’s Half Note. Euforquestra is known for including guests, but this time around they went all out. In addition to their regular five (Ryan Jeter has been on indefinite hiatus), they invited Kim Dawson, Matt Grundstad, Jeff Porter, Danny Sears, Jon Stewart and Dan Schwindt to join in the fun. Jon Gray even sat in on trumpet for a few songs.

The night started early at 9PM sharp with the Hodi’s Funk House Band that included local drum star, Eric Imbrosciano. The Funk Jam has been a long tradition at Hodi’s occurring every Monday night. Eric and company lead the jam and invited local players to join in. They were set up at the back of the house stage. Their funky instrumental jams welcomed the audience as they made their way inside. The show would eventually sell out with lots of attendees decked out in full Halloween regalia. Speaking of which, Punch Drunk Munky Funk came to the main stage dressed as the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. Drummer, Michelle Pietrafitta, dressed as April O’Neil to complete the ensemble. As they took to their instruments an eerie hush fell over the crowd. They began with a sinister sounding rendition of the theme from the Halloween films.

Set One: Halloween Theme> Marley's Mammories, Gristle7yy, 1998, Ninja Tuna> Cabrini Green, Jalopy> Twilight Zone> Back in Time

They should have had a friend dress as Mike Myers and just quietly stand behind people at the show, but there’s always next year. Punch Drunk Munky Funk is an up and coming funk outfit from Northern Colorado. I first caught them at Mishawaka this summer and they have been playing up and down the Front Range relentlessly ever since. Snappy drumbeats are juxtaposed against sensible guitar licks in “1998.” This band is one very much in the pocket. Tightness is key with an unwavering commitment to the riff. “Cabrini Green” had an intensity that is quickly becoming a hallmark of this band. They went into a swift version of the “Twilight Zone” before closing with my highlight, “Back in Time.” This song is sung by Alex and Michelle and demonstrates a more tender sound before it explodes in a fiery ball of funk. Punch Drunk Munky Funk blends their instrumental and sung tracks seamlessly. They have a reverence for the funk, which is evident with each performance. They were a perfect fit with Euforquestra.

Euforquestra’s guests would enter and exit often, as this ten piece monstrosity found its footing on the snug Hodi’s stage. I’ll take a moment to point out that in all my years of Halloween concert attending I have never seen a wider array of costumes in a single group before. Costume choices ranged from spandex clad rock star to cowboy to Spock. They opened with a celebratory version of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” into their own barnstormer, “Instant Coffee.”

Set One: Let’s Dance> Instant Coffee, Mixed Bizness, The Events Of December 11> Spooky> Black Pearl> TCB or TYA, Fire, Don’t Boom Boom, Road Funk, Just Not Ready For Love, Built To Last, Ramble On, Gold Mine, Soup> The Kids

Encore: Price Is Right, She’s So Heavy

Despite the incongruence of their costumes, musically they came together beautifully. Austin Zalatel continued to channel Bowie on a horn infused “December 11.” They went into a spot on version of “Spooky” and the band just kept the funk flowing freely. Kim Dawson’s vocals stole the show, but what else is new. She has amazing timing and a huge vocal range. Her recent marriage to guitarist Mike Tallman implies that she will be a frequent guest in years to come. It was interesting to see so many musicians wailing away on a stage that is barely comfortable for five. Grundstad was all smiles as he synched up with Babineau on the kit. Euforquestra settled back into the groove with “Road Funk” which has become such a powerful jamming vehicle for this band. Their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” shook the room. They closed the set with their ode to grandma’s broth “Soup” into “The Kids.” The Big Band returned for a two-song encore that ended with The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy.” Euforquestra found their stride musically years ago. They are becoming an institution in Colorado much like The Motet. They grind it out and tour nationally. Their dedication is evident with every performance. They are so tight that they regularly invite guests to mix it up. This last year has seen a rotating cast of horn players and percussionists sitting in and mixing up the dynamic. The Big Band show was that approach taken to its farthest limits. This band continues to impress me after 12 years and well over a hundred shows. If you like the blending of funk, World, Reggae and Afrobeat let them impress you too.

Nick's Photo Gallery

The String Cheese Incident 11.10.14 (Photos)

The State Theatre
Ithaca, NY

Photos By Jon Irvin

View Jon's full photo album here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Greensky Bluegrass & Dead Winter Carpenter 11.9.14 (Photos)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blonde Redhead & Hungry Ghost 11.8.14 (Photos)

The Motet & Mikey Thunder 10.29.14

Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

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

The Motet is Colorado’s house band, plain and simple. They continue to be an innovating force in the world of funk and Afrobeat in Colorado. They are famous for their Halloween runs, which in previous years have focused on the catalog of a single band. This year The Motet chose the rather broad theme of ‘Mixtape 1975.’ Like most fans anticipating the show, I looked up the top hits of 1975. Songs like David Bowie’s “Fame” and the Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” floated to the top. One of those seemed like a distinct possibility. When show time came The Motet would surprise us all like they manage to do every year.

Arriving early there was already a decent turnout. The show would nearly sell out. AGGIE RAGE CAGE UPDATE: The bar has moved the fencing down a level extending the area where drinking is allowed to the top two levels. The floor is now essentially the only area for minors to watch the show. I think this is a better solution than confining everyone over 21 to the Thunderdome. Speaking of Thunder, Mikey Thunder was spinning a lot of popular funk music from the mid to late 70’s and beyond. He was set up in the back by the soundboard, but his funky pop was ripping out of the PA. As the room slowly filled Mr. Thunder played on. His set went until around 10:30 PM. In a haze of blue light and smoke The Motet floated onto the stage. The group was complete with leather vests, bell-bottoms, and intricately patterned shirts. Watts wore a top hat at the kit while Jalbert sported glasses that would make Phil Donahue jealous. The beginning of the show sounded like a mash up of Earth, Wind, & Fire and The Commodores, but I can’t be sure. When the dust finally settled the band went into hyper drive with a version of Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar.” This was an unexpected one for me, sure Floyd’s heyday was in the 70’s, but that band did not play funk music. “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees was big hit from '75 and it seemed to fit The Motet’s chic a bit better. They tapped the talents of Camille Armstrong and Paul Creighton to sing alongside Jans Ingber. The Motet seems to have worked as a proving ground of sorts for young singers. Others like Kim Dawson have gone on to play with the likes of Karl Denson and The New Mastersounds. “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate (yep that’s who sang that song) came up next to a delighted audience. Speaking of which, it was a funny night given the proximity to Halloween. Attendees were split with about half going all out for the holiday while many others only managed the bare minimum in costume or accessorizing. A funny hat or silly glasses was all they could muster. KC & The Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way I Like It” blasted into Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” in a battle of the ampersands of funk. My prediction came true when they closed up the first set with the Bowie classic “Fame.”

The set break lasted maybe 20 minutes before the funk army returned. Throughout the entire night the rhythm section stole the spotlight. This happens a lot with The Motet; the combination of Watts on kit and Sayers on bass is a powerful one. The boys returned to the “Sunshine Band” catalog with “Get Down Tonight.” They went into a rendition of the Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster,” which most will remember the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded in 1996. The Motet played some later day Temptations with “Shaky Ground” before going into a beautifully timed “Fire On The Bayou” by The Meters. The entire night was utterly enjoyable. The Motet continues to be a driving force in the Colorado music scene. They don’t just cover a set of songs; they immerse themselves in the music and present the music with a mastery and respect that is undeniable. They could have been a pop cover band from 1975, musically and stylistically. The Motet doesn’t half ass any performance, but for Halloween each year they pull out all the stops. Their show at the Aggie was a time machine back to an earlier time when the funk flowed freely and the clothing made chest hair an accessory. It was a great night for funk and an even better night for platform footwear.

Nick’s Photo Gallery

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Henhouse Prowlers & Wild Rabbit 11.4.14 (Photos)

The String Cheese Incident 11.5.14 (Photos)

The Lincoln Theater
Washington D.C.

Photos By Will Rawls (The Lot Scene)

View Will's Full Gallery Here

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Henhouse Prowlers & Hog MaGundy 10.24.14

Avogadro’s Number
Fort Collins, CO

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

One of Chicago’s premiere bluegrass exports the Henhouse Prowlers made their way through Fort Collins with a stop at Avogadro’s Number. Avo's hosted HHP as their headliner for the 2nd Annual Avograss Bluegrass Festival at the end of July. This was their first time back and they choose Colorado Slopgrass experts Hog MaGundy to support. Avogadro’s Number continues to fly under the radar at times, but that was not the case at this particular show. I arrived to see the tables pushed back with plenty of dancing room laid out. The format was a four set sandwich with Henhouse playing two in the middle.

Hog MaGundy is still a relatively new group having formed just two short years ago. However, their live performances exhibit a deeper musical connection that puts this band far beyond their years. Devon ‘Tree’ Lindsay played a miniature cantina drum set that flanked the rest of the group. They are a six-piece band that has been joined from time to time by a keyboardist. Songs like “Nashville Fauxgrass” and “Word of Warning” dotted the first set. They played for around an hour with a version of Elvis’ “That’s Alright Mama” into their own “Sweet Dready Mama” into JJ Cale’s “After Midnight” to close their first set. The last song was a nod to their impending return to Avogadro’s stage after the Prowlers.

The Henhouse Prowlers gave the now standing audience two sets of powerfully effective bluegrass. This four-piece string band from Chicago is all business in their firmly pressed suits and flawless delivery; their lyrics being the main diversion from purist bluegrass. The Henhouse Prowlers are world travelers who have performed in Africa as well as Europe a handful of times over the last few years. They performed a bluegrass version of Nigerian R&B duo P-Square’s “Chop My Money.” They continued the World theme with a dance-inducing version of Toots and The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop.” The Prowlers also played several originals including “Breaking Ground” and a dark “Shadow of the Man.” During their short set break the band members mingled with the crowd.

Avogadro’s Number was a blur of energy and excitement as music fans darted to the bar for fresh drinks and others spilled outside for a smoke. The back patio area of Avos is one of the best in Fort Collins complete with a gazebo and a tree house. Henhouse Prowlers’ second set lasted until after midnight. They continued with the same energy they had in set one. Highlights included a snappy “Lonesome Road” as well as a nod to George Jones. They also treated us to a high-octane version of their original “The Track” sung by Dan Andree. The Henhouse Prowlers continue to push the bluegrass envelope by blending a modern approach to lyrics with a traditional style both in music and fashion. They seem to be finding a solid fan base in Northern Colorado. I look forward to their return.

Hog MaGundy came back to the stage for a short closing set. They opened with “Love Will Not Change” into “Colorado Girl.” Around this time I began the ritual of closing my tab and saying my goodbyes. This was a great night of acoustic music all around. Hog MaGundy with their diverse blending of musical voices and strong attention to song craft were the perfect compliment to the Henhouse Prowlers. Furthermore, the Prowlers bring a level of class and musical aptitude that is a rare combination these days. Both of these bands deserve your attention. Check them out.

Nick's Photo Gallery

The String Cheese Incident 11.4.14 (Photos)

The Lincoln Theater
Washington D.C.

Photos By Will Rawls (The Lot Scene)

View Will's Full Photo Gallery Here

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Caravan Of Thieves & New Country Rehab 10.23.14

Avogadro’s Number
Fort Collins, CO

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

The cavalcade of enjoyment that is The Caravan Of Thieves rolled into Fort Collins. The Bohemian Gypsy Jazz experience is one that will not soon be forgotten. Caravan Of Thieves is a Connecticut group that centers on Fuzz Sangiovanni (founding member of Deep Banana Blackout) and his wife Carrie. Their harmonization is the star of the show. Bassist Brian Anderson and violinist Ben Dean round out the band. The show was at the sometimes-overlooked Avogadro’s Number. This venue consistently delivers vivacious shows with strong nationally touring acts. Furthermore Avo’s is an oasis for local musicians who have a multitude of opportunities to play there including open mics and the now renowned Dead Jam. On this particular night the tables that span the room were all full, but it would take coaxing from the band to get anyone to dance vertically.

Arriving a bit after 9PM I was greeted by the energizing sounds of New Country Rehab. This group of four hails from Ontario, Canada and was playing in Fort Collins for their first time.

Set One: Empty Room Blues, Home To You, Lost Highway, My Buckets Got A Hole In It, Lizzy Dying of a Broken Heart, Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals, Logan County Blues, Blair, The Last Hand, State Trooper

We arrived during “Lizzy” which was a brooding tale of a war veteran turned venue owner. The fiddle of John Showman (yes that’s his name) is front and center. They were touring with another guitarist who was filling in for regular picker Anthony de Costa. They call themselves alt-country, but they are a whirlwind of styles blending rock, funk, bluegrass, latin, and more into one giant bowl of Americana. They would be at home opening up for The Avett Brothers or Edward Sharpe, however I think they have bigger ambitions than being an opener. “Too Man Parties and Too Many Pals” was a stripped down rock version of the Hank Williams’ classic first released in 1950. “Logan County Blues” was high-speed traditional instrumental that showed yet another side of this versatile group. They closed with a solid version of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” complete with siren wails from the fiddle.

The Caravan of Thieves were soon on stage and getting ready a full set of joyful exuberance. Fuzz started the show with an extended drum jam featuring his makeshift percussion instruments before the full band went into “Shim Sham.”

Set One: Shim Sham, Sympathy For The Devil, Candy, I Don’t Wanna, Eat You, Monster, I Got You, Rattlesnake, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dead Wrong

Encore: She’s Leaving> Within You Without You, Raise The Dead

The “Sympathy For the Devil” was referred to as the ‘Devil Medley’ because it sharply segued into “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” before teasing INXS’s “Devil Inside” and then returning to the original Rolling Stones tune. It was obviously something they prepared for their upcoming Halloween show, but it was nice to see it here. The Caravan Of Thieves have a profound ability to create interesting and amusing mash-ups that are incredibly entertaining. The swing took the spotlight on “Candy” which is a sweet homage to all things cavity inducing. The set as a whole was one part gypsy swing band, one part vaudeville, and one part audience interaction. The show featured sing-alongs lead by the band as well as a crowd member holding a bucket while Fuzz furiously beat away at it next to the merch table. During “Monster” the band invited everyone to harmonize for a few minutes creating a rich texture of sound in the room. We were treated to a couple songs with just Carrie and Fuzz including a beautiful “I Got You” on the single mic. Ben Dean got a chance to show off his classical chops with a brilliant “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” They gave us a straight rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which has been used in one of their mash ups previously. They closed the set with their pulsating tune about a missed connection “Dead Wrong.”

Caravan Of Thieves returned with The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving” into a spot on version of “Within You Without You,” which they performed last year on Halloween as part of a gypsy style tribute to the Fab Four. Afterwards the band came down on the floor and invited the audience to stomp along on their anthem to the deceased “Raise The Dead.” They seem to come to Fort Collins around Halloween so we get the benefit of seeing what they have in store for the big show. This night was a wonderful time at Avogadro’s as I continue to be impressed by this impeccable musical experience. The Caravan Of Thieves play their hearts out onstage and strive to give unique performances that leave fans spiritually invigorated. Their dark sense of style and love of all things vintage only adds to their mystique as a band. They are a group built on love and trust which is exactly what they give their audience each time they take up their instruments. Go see the Caravan Of Thieves, you won’t leave disappointed.

Nick's Photo Gallery

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pearl Jam 10.22.14

Pepsi Center
Denver, CO

Words By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Photo By Abby Radbill

Few bands have the wherewithal to withstand the test of time like Pearl Jam. From the ashes of Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam rose like a flannel-laden Phoenix to the ultimate heights of the Seattle scene. They’ve outlived many of their contemporaries most notably Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Beyond Grudge they continue to push themselves musically, however the age of Doc Martens and ironically long hair has passed. Or has it just come full circle? Since Pearl Jam released their tenth studio album Lightning Bolt in October of 2013, they have been touring worldwide. Denver marked the final stop as well as the 24th anniversary of Mookie Blaylock’s very first live performance in Seattle. So needless to say there was much to celebrate on this particular night at the Pepsi Can.

My lurking fandom combined with Pearl Jam’s lack of recent shows on the Front Range meant this was my first time seeing them live. Fortunately for me, this show would prove to be one for the books. Pearl Jam started the night with a subtle, but beautiful “Release” off their first album Ten.

Set One: Release, Low Light, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Last Exit, Why Go, Lightning Bolt, Mind Your Manners, Setting Forth, Leatherman, My Father’s Son, Even Flow, Ghost, Present Tense, Do the Evolution, Eruption, Of the Earth, Given to Fly, Sirens, Don’t Gimme No Lip, Lukin, Porch

Encore: Future Days, Sleight of Hand, Imagine, Mother, Last Kiss, Breath, Leash, Rearviewmirror

Second Encore: Once, Black, State of Love and Trust, Better Man, Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted, Alive, Baba O’Riley, Yellow Ledbetter*

*Star Spangled Banner Solo by Mike McCreedy

Given their recent spate of performances where PJ has played an entire album some fans speculated that they would play Ten in it’s entirety in Denver. The opener put an end to that wishful thinking, but they did manage to play seven songs off the album. This show taken in its entirety was a nonstop blast that took us through Pearl Jam’s full history with a healthy dose of the ‘classics.’ “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” became a triumphant sing-along while “Why Go” became a furious, fist-pumping throw down capable of doing serious structural damage. They treated us to the title track off of their newest album Lighting Bolt as inordinately large light bulbs raised and lowered above the stage. During “Porch” Mike McCreedy actually started swinging things at them first his mic stand then his guitar. The guitar was successful and as the bulb broke stagehands scrambled across the stage. Vedder was all smiles as he cracked open his bottles of wine at one point half toppling over. Later he leaned out over the corner stage and began filling up cups. This was obviously a family affair and I was like the new friend of the weird third cousin. Regardless, I was having an incredible time taking it all in and having a great time. Seeing this band play with this much energy and regard for their fans was worth the price of admission. Vedder gave a heartfelt shout out to Chris McCandless, the subject of “Setting Forth,” as well as the film Into The Wild. “My Father’s Son,” also off Lighting Bolt, was a dark and heavy exposition on bad genetics (I think). “Even Flow” was a huge hit with the audience and a highlight of the entire show. They played Van Halen’s “Eruption” before they went into a bombastic “Of The Earth.” “Given To Fly” was a bit of a breather before the band cranked up with a big close starting with “Don’t Gimme No Lip.” “Lukin” exploded out of the PA before the entire band went ballistic on “Porch.” Lightbulbs were lost.

Other bands would just take a set break, but after playing for over ninety minutes straight, Pearl Jam returned for a series of encores that would last almost as long. They began back up with a series of acoustic songs, “Future Days” coming first. A sobering “Sleight of Hand” followed.

"There’s a new app for your phone that will light your marijuana cigarettes. (Joint flies through the air towards Vedder.) Oh, I just got myself a marijuana cigarette, thank you very much. We’re not gonna smoke it… til later.” – Eddie Vedder

And with a wink the sheer massiveness of the Pepsi Center was transformed into an intimate hall. Pearl Jam performed stripped down renditions of Lennon’s “Imagine” and Pink Floyd’s “Mother.” Vedder sat down to deliver these performances and again highlighted his versatility as a singer. Not to mention his showmanship. He interacted, told stories, reminisced, smiled and paid homage throughout the entire show. This gave fans in the 300's a sense of inclusion despite their obvious proximity issue. The entire band ventured to the back to play to the audience directly behind the stage. Complete with a small drum kit Vedder stood on the riser and sang “Last Kiss.” Pearl Jam returned to their instruments and kicked up the energy level with “Breath.” They continued the trend with “Leash” before ending with “Rearviewmirror.”

Pearl Jam emerged for their second encore to the sounds of “Happy Birthday” emanating from the audience. The house lights just stayed on allowing everyone to see each other. Vedder acknowledged their anniversary, but noted that both Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard had been playing together for thirty years. And with that, they performed a profound “Once.” The second encore was full of early cuts including a jawdroppingly good “Black” along with a huge “State of Love and Trust.” The crowd took lead vocals on “Better Man.” “Alive” was yet another throwback from Ten. Pearl Jam went into a stellar version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” before they officially ended the show with a perfectly timed “Yellow Ledbetter.” Towards the end of the song McCreedy went into a Hendrix-style interpretation of the "Star Spangled Banner" while the rest of the band popped bottles of champagne. They returned to spray Mike as well as most of the front row down before calling it a night. This show in Denver was the best introduction to Pearl Jam anyone could hope for. Huge musical highs coupled with a sincerity and intimacy that is difficult to pull off in an arena that holds 20,000+ souls. They sound like a band that has had 24 years to dial it in and turn it up. Let’s just hope they don’t wait too long before coming back to Colorado.