Category: Reviews

Review ~ Phish Can Swim: Live at Northerly Island by Matt Heredos

Northerly Island 7.19.2013 
This couple weekends ago Phish returned to Chicago for their only Midwest stop of 2013 (so far at least). This entire tour has been riddled with weather issues, most notably the rescheduling of the band’s first trip to Canada in thirteen years. However, despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, the band strung together two great shows at Northerly Island, even with Friday night being cancelled shortly after the start of the second set.

It is a shame Friday could not have gone on as planned as the first set contained strong versions of multiple songs. The set included standout versions of 46 Days and Wolfman’s Brother, as well as the first version of My Soul of 2013, and another Scent of a Mule complete with a Marimba Lumina solo from Fishman. After a very intriguing Down with Disease to open up the second set, the show is called due to the severe weather that is on its way. This version of Disease will likely not receive much love due to the fact that it was the only full song of the set, but fear not, Phish always finds a way to make up for lost time, this weekend would be no different.

Highlights: 46 Days, Scent of a Mule, Down with Disease After a long night of sulking over the bummer that is a cancelled set of Phish, as well as a couple of not-so-necessary, yet still highly enjoyable hours spent in the “tunnel party” many fans awoke to the great news that Saturday’s show would be three full sets, to start “promptly” at 7:00 PM.

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Northerly Island 7.20.2013
Of course, by many musicians’ standards, 7:15 is exactly what “promptly at 7:00” means. The first of three sets on this Saturday starts off with a continuation of the Prince Caspian that was cut short on Friday. While I hate to be a guy who uses the word “standard” to describe a set, this first set, while good, seems fairly standard when compared to we would hear in the two sets that followed. The first set does contain songs worth noting: One of the most upbeat and fastest paced versions of Rift in recent years, the year’s first versions of Lawn Boy, and I Didn’t Know, and perhaps a bit of a jab at many fans complaints of hearing a certain song with a combo of Ha Ha Ha -> Possum. Stand out versions of My Friend, My Friend and Kill Devil Falls keep fans dancing, and one of my personal favorite combos to end any set, Cavern -> David Bowie closes out set one.

7/20/2013 Sets 2 and 3….. I’m weary of writing too much about these sets, because it could easily happen. These last two sets of Phish’s Saturday show are a pair of sets that make you feel totally fine about sacrificing way too much of your time, money, energy…. Semi-vital organs that you sold on the black market, your dead grandfather’s priceless heirlooms you pawned off….. Yes… all of these sacrifices are now OK if you were in attendance on this night.

Back on the Train slowly creeps its way in to start the second set, and the Mike’s Groove that followed would be one for the ages. Fans have been clamoring for an extended version of Mike’s Song for some time now, and while this version doesn’t stretch the twenty minute mark as some fans have hoped for, it certainly packs much more of a punch than many versions from recent years. As the song ended and a light rain began to leak its way out, fans were treated to the first version of Theme from the Bottom wedged into a Mike’s Groove. This version saw great playing from all members with an extended jam at the end that I would have liked to see continue, however, the Weekapaug Groove that followed left very little to be complained about.

Groove has always been my absolute favorite Phish song and this version is by far the best I have personally seen. A great shredding start to the song from Trey gave way to a terrific solo from Mike and as the whole band joined in, this seven minutes version of Weekapaug totally debunked the myth that all Phish songs have to be stretched to the max to reach their full potential. The songs that wrapped up set two: Golden Age -> Waves -> Piper -> Slave to the Traffic Light were all terrific and offered fans many peaks and valleys of jamming bliss. Golden Age in particular displayed some wonderful singing from Trey. Another highlight came in the absolutely nailed intro to Piper, which will always be one of my favorite moments of any Phish song. On any night this would be an extremely solid night of music, but were not done just yet.

Many fans were hoping for a jam heavy set three and while it did not start out that way, the opening selection of Meatstick and Birds of a Feather keeps the energy high until a wonderful “breather” song in the Page sung Strange Design. Next came an odd selection for a third set in Ocelot. I can’t think of many songs that have grown more the past four years than this one. This cat definitely has grown some teeth and Chicago’s version fits perfectly in this third set, or any set for that matter.

The night wraps up with a couple of jam heavy hitters and one very intense cover. Light has become a launch-pad for Trey in recent years allowing him to take more risks in his improvisation. Fans are always going to want to see new and exciting renditions of songs and it is easy to see that these risks are paying off greatly for songs like Light. This version does not stretch to the lengths some recent ones have but when the song is this entertaining, who cares? I think many fans could enjoy their favorite band a lot more if they would just put away their stopwatches and “surrender to the flow”…. Brah.

One of the “MVP Songs” of 2013 in my opinion, Harry Hood appears next and the set is closed out with arguably the best ever version of Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times. Trey takes more risks, shreds, and fans grin from ear to ear. Another cover in the Stones’ Shine a Light puts a beautiful cap on a terrific night of music. Time for some leftover deep dish and a snooze before Chicago Phish wraps up on Sunday.

Highlights: 
Possum (seriously), My Friend, My Friend, David Bowie, Mike’s Song > Theme from the Bottom-> Weekapaug Groove, Light, Ocelot, Good Times Bad Times

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Northerly Island 7.21.2013
As amazing as night two of Chicago was, Sunday is no snoozer show by a longshot and it should not be skimmed over. A lot of fans can get annoyed with the signs that are held up. In my opinion, signs are like almost anything else in life in that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about using them. If you hold up a sign for an entire show, not only are you a moron, but the likely hood of your song ever being played on that night is quite slim. Apparently the guy up front on this night did it the “RIGHT way” with his “0-172 Dinner and a Movie” sign, so Trey dedicated the song to this sign holder and night three was underway. The typical show starter AC/DC Bag is next and as Trey keeps plucking the last note of this version of Bag, it synchs up nicely with Fishman’s drum beat as he begins Maze. I always find Maze to be a more powerful first set song and this version does not disappoint. Not so standard and well played versions of Mound and Funky Bitch come next with great singing and bass play from our favorite desert dwelling plant, get ‘em Cactus !!

Next is what will be known as the “360 Gin” from the Chairman of the Boards, Page McConnell. Before Trey starts singing this version of Bathtub Gin, Page hits every key on his whole damn rig in a hilarious fashion that gets the crowd roaring with delight. As the song ends and Wilson makes an appearance, so does the rain….again. However this time the rain does little to slow down this great show. An expected version of Water in the Sky gives way to a tremendous Boogie on Reggae Woman. The rain did not stop, but neither did the crowd’s enthusiasm. I can’t remember having more fun in the rain in my life than I did during this combo of Water & Boogie On. As Trey starts the opening chords to Run like an Antelope, Mother Nature got the best of us again… even if for just a few minutes, time for a breather, a very wet breather.

Another set for the books comes up to close out this fantastic run. A cover of The Apples in Stereo’s Energy begins this set as the band stretches out this version in which ultimately segues nicely into Ghost. One of my other “all-time favorite” Phish tunes in The Lizards is next and gives this fan all he could ask for and more, or so it seemed.

Harpua dude….. One of the most sought after songs in this bands whole catalog comes next. This version is…. as Mike put it… “Odd” to say the least. The cast of Chicago’s own “Second City” are brought on stage as they portray the exact WRONG way to hold up a sign, which ironically gets their song played this time. These “fans” on stage claim they know the “Right way” to tell the story of Harpua, which apparently is nothing more than some incoherent ramblings of Al Gore, erectile dysfunction, and of course Cats !! Mike takes over the narration portion of Harpua and, in a way, saves the song from utter and total disarray. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to hear this song, no matter how goofy… but it was still odd…quite odd, and hey ! the storm IS finally gone !! Set two finishes with a second attempt at Run like an Antelope and this version is well worth the wait. Character Zero makes an appearance as the encore to close out a fantastic weekend of music, and rain.

Mother Nature did her best, but when Phish is playing as well as they are right now, not even she can slow down this band that has continued to progress, evolve, and still leave fans wanting more. Even though it’s only a few days removed from the Chicago run, I already can’t wait for the next one. Cheers!

Highlights: Maze, “360” Bathtub Gin, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Energy-> Ghost, Harpua (for the laughs at least), Run like an Antelope

Websites & Links: Phish.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LivePhish.com

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Show Review ~ Phish NYC Review 2012 by Matt Heredos

Whenever you go to a city like New York, NY for New Year’s Eve, you’re going to run into a wide variety of people. Some of these people will tell you all you want to hear if you let them. This past New Years I ran into a guy that told me about his journey to live the high life. He told me that nothing, no sporting event, Las Vegas gambling adventure, no Rocky Mountain climb, no cruise of the Caribbean could compare to ending his year with 20,000 of his closest friends and his favorite band, in New York City.

This was the third consecutive year Phish ended their year in New York at Madison Square Garden. After a widely regarded subpar 2011 performance at MSG, hopes were high for a redemption run this year at the Garden. Fans were riding high after a terrific run over Labor Day weekend in Colorado to close out the 2012 summer tour. With expectations higher than they have been in years, this year’s run at MSG did not disappoint and reaffirmed that this band has plenty left in the tank for their 30th year in 2013.
The four night run began on Friday the 28th with an incredibly eager crowd packing MSG. Of all the shows I have seen of numerous bands, these four shows easily contained the most energetic and positively vibed crowd I’ve been a part of, whatever that means.
The nights first set began with the Joy tune Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan. The majority of the set stays in “safe”, but well played, territory, until the monster Wolfman’s Brother to close the set, filled with a brief section of The Little Drummer Boy.
The second set of 12/28 left me extremely excited for what was to come for the rest of the weekend as it is arguably the best set of the entire run. The set begins with a Tweezer stretching over twenty minutes that is engaging from start to finish. Don’t miss this one. The Maze and Twist that follow are both very well played and we have more of Fish Ba rum pum pum pumming on his drum. Two very well played versions of Fluffhead and David Bowie close out this six song set. A short but sweet encore of Bouncing Around the Room and Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times close out night one at MSG, with Tweeprise interestingly enough still on the table.
Night two at MSG opened with an appropriate Crowd Control. After night ones amazing second set, hopes were high for more of the same. This night’s first set was fairly “par” for the course, (awful pun intended) with huge ovations during Reba that would put even the most jaded fan in good spirits. A Bathtub Gin with “Suzy Q” quotes from Fishman and great playing from Trey closes out the set.
One of the summer’s go to jam heavy openers, T.V. on the Radio’s Golden Age, opened up set two. This version is extremely well-played and moves into dark and funky jam territory before transitioning into Waves. These two songs provide the jam craving fan with plenty to mull over. The rest of the set focuses on short but sweet rockers with Bug sandwiched nicely in the middle. A pair of high energy tunes, Cavern and 46 Days close out a set that is anything but “par.” An encore of The Squirming Coil, Grind, and First Tube put the exclamation point on another great night in NYC.
The 30th of December has long been viewed as the night for the fans. Phish has had numerous great performances on this date aside from 2011’s less than inspired performance. Two great nights were in the books already, and on the 30th this time around, they did not disappoint. Nearly every song from the first set is exceptionally played including a well-placed Divided Sky, and a standout version of Ya Mar with Mike showing us some fantastic playing in the outro of the song. The heavy hitters My Friend, My Friend, and Run Like an Antelope close out “the fans” first set.
Set two. Woah. Along with set two of 12/28, set two of the 30th is easily one of the best sets of Phish I have ever seen, let alone this New Year’s run. Down with Disease opening a second set is always a good thing. And when it is followed up by an even more impressive jam filled Carini, thirty five minutes of Woah. To put it simply and immaturely, this Carini is super tits…. A personal favorite, Slave to the Traffic Light, closes another terrific set at the Garden. An encore I’ll take any show, Harry Hood, closes out the 30th, along with Show of Life, sweet. Now it’s on to the best night of the year.
One of the big reasons I love this band is their humor. Ricky Nelson’s Garden Party starts things off in the most hilariously fitting way possible; a song about Nelson playing his new material at the Garden only to be booed off stage. Perfect. The first set doesn’t venture too far off the beaten path, but stays the course of the previous three nights as everything is well played.
Set two starts off strong with perhaps a tease as to what is to come in set three, Birds of a Feather. Next, and for the third straight year in set two of 12/31, is Ghost. While this version doesn’t quite reach the levels of 12/31/10’s, it warrants a re-listen or two. The Piper that follows is the jam of the night by far; another moment of WOAH. Set two closes with a fairly standard, but highly entertaining nonetheless, You Enjoy Myself. Set two, Fin.
Well, it’s here. Time for what makes this band, this band: weird, goofy, funny, and creative hilariousness, on New Year’s Eve. It’s Party Time!! Or, in this case perhaps, it’s “Par-Tee” time. Then, it’s time to get weird. Kung creeps its way in and for most fans, the cat is out of the bag, time to stage a runaway golf cart marathon!! STAND UP! The music behind this marathon? A very well placed, and played, Chalk Dust Torture. Once the marathon is over, so is 2012, Cheers. After a nice take on Auld Lang Syne by Trey, we hear the loudest thing I have ever heard. Videos online do not do it justice, this Tweezer Reprise, complete with VERY loud backup singers, is off the charts, and the energy is through the roof. Happy 2013, hope your ears still work.
The next FOUR!! songs after Tweeprise are all very well played golfed theme songs, including the band’s first take on Fly like an Eagle and an extended version of The Wedge. After the brakes were pumped post-midnight at last year’s MSG run, it was great to see the band push on late into the night. A barbershop rendition of Lawn Boy ends set three of New Year’s Eve, hugs and smiles all around.
After a brief break, the band closes the book on 2012 with two more golf themed songs in Driver and the band’s first full rendition of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man with The Chairman of the Boards on vocals. The Chairman informed us that we had just begun Phish’s 30th year of existence, the crowd responded with the second loudest thing I’ve ever heard. Here’s to another thirty years.
Even with some of the most critical fans in music, or any form of art for that matter, Phish continues to bring nothing but great times for anyone willing to share in the groove. After a week of thought, I think it’s safe to say this redemption run at Madison Square Garden was just that, and I can’t wait for the next garden party.

Show Highlights:

Set I: Wolfman’s Brother -> The Little Drummer Boy-> Wolfman’s Brother
Set II: Listen to the whole damn set, dozens of times
Set I: Garden Party, purely because it is so fitting


Websites & Links: Phish.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LivePhish.com

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Festival Review ~ New Vrindaban Festival of Colors 2012 by Ryan Neeley

Words and Photos by Ryan Neeley

When it comes to unrestrained celebration, the devotees at New Vrindaban’s Palace of Gold in the hills of northern West Virginia really know how to throw a party.

About 1,000 people attended the Festival of Colors, also known as Holi, a festival celebrated by Hindus in India and throughout the world as a “celebration of life.” As part of the celebration, participants throw colored, scented powder at each other and in the air, showering all of the participants in a blanket of color.

According to Vrindavana Das, the festival organizer, “Although it has a root in religion, the festival is not a religious festival, but a festival for everyone – all classes of people from different backgrounds are invited to join us in this celebration of life.” “It’s a festival for people who want to enjoy their life and share love for each other.”

As my family and I made our way into the event, we were greeted by a sea of humanity smeared in the colors of the rainbow. My son immediately grabbed a bag of colored powder and went to work bombarding everyone around. We made our way to the stage area, where the bands were playing, and as I scanned the crowd, I noticed that it was a delightful mix of young and old, the rich and not-so-rich, hippies and yuppies, devotees and non-devotees, all laughing and smiling while dancing to the music.

And the bands really delivered to the audience, which could have been difficult due to the wide range of tastes and age groups present. Unfortunately, we missed the first two acts of the afternoon, local group Triadelphia and TK and the Namrock Band, but I heard that they really got the crowd grooving.

We were able to catch Jai Krishna and the Ananda Groove, a Utah group that has done “the past 10-12 festivals in Utah,” according to their lead vocalist and namesake Jai Krishna. “The festival in the U.S. started in Utah, and we had about 300 people the first year, 1,000 the next, and now we have 80,000+ participating.”

Seeing this group play was a very unique experience, with bagpipes, bamboo flutes, chanting, washboards, and just about anything else that made noise becoming an instrument for them to experiment with, much to the delight of the crowd. Not to mention that they have such a calming, peaceful aura about them that rubs off on those around them.

The next band to hit the stage was the up-and-coming Wheeling-area jamband KR-3 – Tim Boyd (lead/vocals – formerly of The Trainjumpers), Eric Stone (drums),Alex Wodarski (bass), and Travis Hoard (keys) –KR-3 has been in existence since 2004, but the band took it’s current form in January of 2012 when Hoard and Wodarski joined the KR-3 team, “and we embraced the jamband scene, as that’s where our music was taking us,” said Boyd in a recent phone interview. “The jamband fans don’t seem to analyze everything as much, and are willing to just cut loose and have fun with the band instead of standing in a corner with the arms folded, analyzing each note.”

And the crowd , painted in colors and dripping with sweat from dancing, seemed to agree, digging the group’s extended psychedelic guitar licks and lyrics with actual substance. Be on the lookout for a release coming from KR-3 soon, called Fractures and Sparks. “It really reflects where we are currently as a band,” Boyd added.

The devotees at New Vrindaban did a fantastic job organizing this event, the first of its kind in the Eastern US, with exotic food, beautiful surroundings, and most of all ACCEPTANCE, a virtue not normally witnessed enough in some religions today. My family and I learned a great deal about their culture, and had a great time doing so, and look forward to coming back year after year to “celebrate life” in this special way.

Websites & Links: NVFestivalOfColors.comNewVrindaban.com

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Review ~ A Whole Lotta Midwest Phish Love (Part 2) by Matt Heredos

Deer Creek 2, 6/29/12
Friday night at Deer Creek saw the band come out with a slew of rarities. The opening segment of Crowd Control and Dinner and a Movie gave way to the first cover of the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane since the 1998 Halloween cover set of the album “Loaded.”

More rarities came in the form of MoundLife on Mars?The Mango SongStrange Design, and a personal favorite, Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars. A well-played cover of the Beatles While My Guitar Gently Weeps closed out a very diverse, and cover heavy set.

Set two saw another Down with Disease opener that was stretched out a bit more than Riverbend’s version, much to the crowds delight. This version saw many distinct sections of improvisation that lead into another very strong version of Sand.

From there things felt a little rushed to say the least. A goofy version of Twist that saw Trey pronouncing his bandmate’s names in several ways, “Shif.” Decent versions of Bathtub GinFluffheadRun Like an Antelope, closed the set, along with another rarity in Ride Captain Ride.

This set started out incredibly strong, and the show as a whole would end in a similar fashion with a three song encore of: Cavern, the rare Sanity, and First Tube. All in all, a great pair of shows back at the old home place.

Highlights from Deer Creek (Night 2): Dinner and a Movie, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Down with Disease > Sand, Bathtub Gin, Cavern, Sanity, First Tube

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Alpine Valley 1, 6/30/12
Without a doubt, my all-time favorite run of shows from Phish is Deer Creek > Alpine Valley. After a short drive up, and a brutal stretch of traffic in Chicago, (lesson learned, again) Alpine Valley was in sight. Night one opened with a combo of songs I had been longing for in My Soul and Daniel Saw the Stone. This first set, while fun, seemed to be a bit all over the place and lacked a word many Phish nerds like to use, “flow.”

The set did contain the first Reba (with whistling!) of the Midwest run, this song is what made me fall in love with this band and I could hear it every show and be happy. The set closed with a nod to the amazing 2010 Alpine show on 8/14/10 with The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony and Suzy Greenberg. See you in 15.

Set two was another set that seemed to lack “flow,” whatever that means. The opening trio of Backwards Down the Number Line, Carini, and Wilson were all decent versions, but left the improvisation fan hungry for more. We finally saw some improvisation with another Golden Age and Rock and Roll, with a short but sweet 2001 sandwiched between them.

The highlight of the night came next in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite combos of songs to hear in Steam and Piper. The former is quickly becoming one of the most sought after songs and was surprisingly played only once in the first leg of shows. A strong version of Character Zero ended this up and down set. Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times closed out the first night back at Alpine Valley.

Highlights from Alpine (Night 1): The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Steam > Piper

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Alpine 2, 7/1/2012
After one of the other delights of Alpine runs, a stay at a buddy’s lake house, we were geared up for a great closing show of a fantastic return to Deer Creek and Alpine.

When Phish opens any show with Bob Marley’s Soul Shakedown Party, you know you are in for a fantastic night (see 12/30/09, 7/3/11). This night was no different, first set especially. Another Velvet Underground cover came second in the Fishman sang Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Rare showings of MeatAccess Me, and A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing filled the middle of the set. Then we saw Page pick up his keytar, time to rage.

A mid first set Frankenstein ! I could get used to that. An exceptional version of Maze, an extended Fee, and a beautiful The Squirming Coil closed out what might be the best first set I’ve seen this band perform.

Set two picked up right where we left off. The powerhouse “jam vehicle” cover of the Talking Heads Crosseyed and Painless (which was called by yours truly) took off and got quite spacey. It made its way into one of the newer Phish covers every one appears to relish in, Zeppelin’s No Quarter. A stellar version of Light, that contained some of the best improvisation of the tour, gave way to a solid, but perhaps too short, version of Ghost.

As amazing as the first half of set two was, the latter half had its moments, but was somewhat inconsistent, (or maybe we were just spoiled from the stellar first set and start of set two). A somewhat perplexing spot for the segment of Back on the Train and Farmhouse somewhat drained the energy. The highly energetic 46 Days picked things right back up before settling down again for Heavy Things and Joy.

Another fan friendly Meatstick closed out a show that had some incredible highlights, with very little to really complain about, at least from this fan’s perspective. A fantastic showing of Midwest love from this band that brings nothing but good times, but that itch wasn’t quite scratched all the way, see you at the beach.

Highlights from Alpine (Night 2): Soul Shakedown Party, Meat, Fee, Maze, The Squirming Coil, Crosseyed and Painless > No Quarter > Light > Ghost, 46 Days

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2012 Phish has been some of the best Phish I have ever witnessed. I am a very lucky nerd to be able to see as many shows as I have with such a great crew, I could not ask for anything more and after nine incredible shows in the months of June and July, that Phish show itch was finally scratched, for a month or so at least. See you all in St. Louis!

Cream of the Crop Highlights:

Websites & Links: Phish.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LivePhish.com

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Review ~ A Whole Lotta Midwest Phish Love (Part 1) by Matt Heredos

A Whole Lotta Midwest Phish Love by Matt Heredos
There are a few certainties during Midwestern Summers: corn will grow, temperatures will rise, and in all their active years since 1992, Midwest Phish will be plentiful. Phish’s 2012 summer tour is no different. Seven shows can be considered “Midwest” from the tour’s first leg alone, starting at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, and ending with a return to historic Alpine Valley in Wisconsin for a pair of shows.

Going to multiple Phish shows in a short time span can seem redundant to the non-fan. Seeing the band perform is clearly the driving force behind traveling such great distances, but in reality, it is about so much more than seeing a band play. It’s about sharing experiences with longtime friends, and new acquaintances, all of whom are there for the exact same reasons you are, for the most part.

One the biggest reasons I choose to follow this band is because Phish takes you everywhere. Almost any place you would ever wish to visit, Phish will have a show close enough to any city, town, or festival you wish to explore.

Shows Attended:Bonnaroo, TN (6/10/12), Cincinnati, OH (6/22/12), Cuyahoga Falls, OH (6/24/12), Noblesville, IN (6/28/12), Noblesville, IN (6/29/12), East Troy, WI (6/30/12), East Troy, WI (7/1/12), Wantagh, NY (7/3/12), Wantagh, NY (7/4/12)

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Bonnaroo 6/10/12
Sometimes, as was the case this summer, that itch to see your favorite band can get the best of you. So much so, that you drive seven hours south to a show in which you currently have no way of getting into. At Bonnaroo 2009, I saw Phish for the very first time. Three years later, they would return to the farm down in Tennessee to close out the 2012 festival. As of 7:00 PM on 6/9/2012, three friends and I had mulled around the idea of going to Bonnaroo for the day on Sunday. With no work to get in the way, the adventure to Bonnaroo was too tempting to pass up.

The idea of waiting around the festival gates to catch people leaving early and buying their wristbands was tossed around, and amazingly, it worked. While I can’t fully endorse the ethics used in seeing this show, sometimes that itch to see your favorite band makes you do some bold and or stupid things. The show itself was a much expected “festival set,” but a “Down with Disease” opener into “Funky Bitch” was a great way to start a great night nonetheless.

The mention of seeing Kenny Rogers’ set prior to Phish was mentioned, but grabbing the best possible spot for Phish’s set took priority. We were all lucky enough to see Mr. Rogers share the stage with Phish for a sing-a-long version of The Gambler. It was quite a treat to see, even with the massive screens at Bonnaroo showing Rogers’ Botox filled face in great detail (which likely was rather, weird, for those fans hanging out with Lucy that evening).

The first set was rounded out in typical “festival set” fashion with a combo of new and old Phish set closers in “Backwards Down the Number Line,” and “Cavern.”. Set two saw one of the few songs that I have been “chasing” ever since I first saw them in concert in “Shafty.” Anyone who has attended Bonnaroo can tell you the mid-day heat can be “hell” to say the least. The highlight of the show came from an extended Carini-> Shafty. All in all, a fun show for a spur of the moment trip down south.

Highlights from Bonnaroo: Carini-> Shafty, Rock and Roll

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Riverbend 6/22/12
The 2012 run of Midwest Phish shows started in Cincinnati. By all accounts, shows like this one are the reason I, as well as many other people, choose to follow this band. A show with bustouts (including the first “Shaggy Dog” since ’95), extended improvisation, and on stage shenanigans should satisfy even the most jaded of vet’s pallets.

The show began with a song I have wished the band would open with for some time in “Wolfman’s Brother.” In the latter portions of the 1st set, Fishman goofed on the beginnings of “Poor Heart” and “Moma Dance”, and graciously took a bow, so we were treated to a slew of songs which all began with the drums. These songs contained three of my personal favorites in “Llama”, “Buffalo Bill”, and “Saw it Again.” A fantastic set, see you in “15” minutes.

Set two began with “Down with Disease,” the classic set two opener powerhouse. A decent jam was cut short for an oddly placed “Guelah Papyrus.” The “Kill Devil Falls” and “Twist” that followed contained some damn good jamming brah, the latter especially. “Sand,” arguably the most consistently well played song of leg 1, came soon after.

Sand lead its way into “Roggae” in a very interesting segue which some people love, others not so much. Three straight forward, and well played, rockers closed the set in “Carini,” “Chalk Dust Torture,” and “Golgi Apparatus.” A rare encore of “Fluffhead” closed out a fantastic show in the Nasty.

Highlights from Riverbend: Wolfman’s Brother, Peaches En Regalia, Saw it Again, Kill Devil Falls > Twist, Sand > Roggae, Fluffhead

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Blossom 6/24/12
The 23rd was a day for roller coasters and other shenanigans for this Midwest crew. A fun time, but I guess you really aren’t supposed to miss a Burgettstown show. Sunday saw Phish’s return to the site of arguably their top 2011 performance overall, Blossom Music Center surrounded by Cuyahoga National Park. If ever you find yourself close to Cuyahoga, you should take some time to explore your surroundings, you’ll thank me later.

Sunday’s show had some fun moments, but if ever a show had a “Sunday” feel to it, this was that show. The only things that stuck out from the first set were a well-played “The Wedge,” the pleasant “Corinna,” and a goofy “Meatstick” with onstage dancers from the crowd. Some of the dancers had no clue how to execute a proper meatstick dance, for shame.

Set two began with a nice combination of “Golden Age” and “Ghost.” They brought out the big “G”uns to start, :: ba dum chink:: The Stones cover of “Sweet Virginia” mellowed things out but was a treat to here. A mid second set “Tweezer” will always bring a smile to my face, this one brought a lot of laughter as well (Don’t forget to eat your pudding).

A rocking opening segment gave way to an interesting jam filled with “Under Pressure” AND “Ice Ice Baby” teases (Theirs goes, ours goes, theirs goes, ours goes….). When no one seemed to know the lyrics to “Under Pressure” Trey stated: “Well, this is going nowhere, let’s get a bunch of girls up here to dance around to the Meatstick! Yeah!” A return to the melody of “Meatstick” was played briefly. One of their stronger covers in “Walk Away” came next.

After a strong showing in Walk Away, the set relaxed greatly. I was happy to take a breather after a rough few days of travel and couch hopping, but those wanting to keep their dancing shoes may have been hoping for more. A “Loving Cup” “Tweezer Reprise” encore closed the book on this fun, relaxing, Sunday show. See you back home !

Highlights from Blossom: The Wedge, Meatstick, Ghost, Tweezer, Walk Away

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Deer Creek 1, 6/28/12
Taking a year off from the classic Deer Creek and Alpine run was heartbreaking for the home town folks of each venue. (Although three fantastic nights at UIC last year were a great change of pace). These two sweltering hot nights in Noblesville, Indiana proved why you never miss a Deer Creek show.

A TAB staple “The Birdwatcher” seemed to shrink the venue down to size for the relatively undersold DC show. What followed next was a treat for many, arguably (with myself) my favorite Phish song, “The Curtain With.” The highly sought after rocker “Fuck your Face” came next, followed by one of the top things on my very dorky Phish wish list: An “Old Home Place” at the old home place. Other well-played rarities filled the set such as “Pebbles and Marbles”, “Weigh”, a very fitting “Cool it Down”, and “Tela.”

Set two was a lot of fun. Period. A song I’ll be glad to hear any night, no matter the length, “Mike’s Song”, opened things up. It transitioned to a very well played duo of “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” and “Back on the Train.” The always goofy Phish sandwich of “Hold Your Head Up” and a Fishman sang cover were next.

Fingers were crossed for a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” which was last played at Deer Creek ’99. We did get one of my other favorite Fish tunes, Syd Barrett’s “Bike.” After Fish aimlessly ran around the stage for the closing end of “HYHU,” Mike brought us into “Weekapaug Groove;” forever and always, one of my favorite songs. Even this version where we saw Jon Fishman pick up Trey’s guitar and makes awful, yet hilarious, noises. Fishman would retake the wheel on drums which would lead to a fairly well played latter half of the groove.

The “4th quarter” of DC night one saw some of my favorite moments from the entire run. An exceptional “Waves” that ever so gently transitioned into “Bug” were pure bliss. A well-played, energetic “David Bowie” closed out set two. A song some love, others take breathers for “Show of Life” started the encore. Another solid Reprise closed out a great return to one of the best places to see this band play.

Highlights from Deer Creek (Night 1): The Curtain With, McGrupp and the Watchful Hose Masters-> Back on the Train, Waves > Bug, David Bowie

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Part 2 coming soon!

Websites & Links: Phish.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LivePhish.com

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Review ~ Phish at Jones Beach July 4th Run 2012 by Matt Heredos

Jones Beach 1, 7/3/2012
The entire first leg of Phish’s 2012 tour contained some of the most consistently well played shows since the 2009 reunion, with ample Midwest love taboot! However, the crew and I had just enough time and energy left for two more shows out east in Wantagh New York. Seeing the band at new venues is always a treat, especially one with such fantastic views as Jones Beach. I can’t pick a clear cut favorite show from this run, but July 3rd at JB is certainly in the running.

Set one began with a “bustout” to end all bustouts in Little Feat’s Skin it Back. The last time the band played this song, I was three months away from being born. After standard versions of Possum and Tube we saw another rarity in the Beatles Happiness is a Warm Gun. Mike’s Groove followed, I could hear these three songs every damn show, especially when they are played this well. Other standouts from set one included the now rare Ya Mar, ZZ Top’s Jesus Just Left Chicago, and Golgi Apparatus except this time, we all could “see the sea.”

Set two of Jones beach 1 is easily one of the best sets I have seen Phish perform. It would have been nice to see the Chalkdust Torture stretched out into some “type II” jamming, but a classic straight forward version kept me smiling to say the least.

Whenever you see the band play several shows in a row, repeats will happen. What followed next was the third “Sand” and fourth cover of T.V. on the Radio’s Golden Age from this run of shows. However, when they are played this well, with great improvisation, it’s hard to complain. This version of “Golden Age” contained easily the best jam of the night.

A raging Wolfman’s Brother > Walk Away came next. “Walk Away” continues to be one of the most energetic songs you will see this band play. After the crowd, as well as the band, had a chance to “catch their breath,” we saw another version of possibly my favorite Phish ballad in Bug.

Another personal favorite The Wedge came before possibly the best Run Like an Antelope Phish has played in over a decade. I always love this song, despite some recent versions lacking a truly defined “peak.” This version raised a few eyebrows to say the least. Some Marco? Polo! shenanigans gave way to some “Mike-O” bass grooves; followed by the best ending to an “Antelope” I’ve ever heard by far.

Time to “Run-Run-Run-Run-Run” to the bathroom before my bladder explodes, not one “pee break song” in the whole set. A standard version of Character Zero closed out one of the best shows I have seen my favorite band play, ear to ear smiles all around. See you tomorrow, happy birthday America.

Highlights from Jones Beach (Night 1): Skin it Back, Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sand > Golden Age, Walk Away, Run Like an Antelope

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Jones Beach 2, 7/4/2012
The grand finale of this nerds run of first leg shows. The only complaint on this end, No Fireworks on July 4th ?!? For shame. Parking lot idiots provided plenty of fireworks after the show, so I got my fill. Now, onto another stellar show!

This show certainly had an “old school” feel to it with the opening segment of Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues. The fifth different Velvet Underground cover since the Deer Creek shows came next in Head Held High. Another old school segment came next in The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday > Avenu Malkanu > The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday, the first performance since Alpine Valley 2009.

Some new school Phish appeared next in Kill Devil Falls. A set that was all over the place, but somehow still “flowed” saw a lovely version of Bittersweet Motel played next. The funk was then brought in Moma Dance. Well-played versions of Gumbo, David Bowie, and the rare treat “Susskind Hotel” soon followed. The only real complaint from set one is a song I just cannot get into, a steaming pile of Alaska.

Another hilarious Hold Your Head Up and Fish cover came next. I got my wish. We were all “tucking” in delight to an absolutely hilarious cover of Prince’s Purple Rain. The “tuck” shtick has yet to get old, so far, and I can admit, I was “tucking” in the purple rain right along with my favorite goofy drummer. An acapella version of our National Anthem closed a very different, but still highly entertaining first set.

Set two saw a few songs I had been hoping to hear all week and finally got. One of my favorite Phish covers started things off, Stevie Wonder’s Boogie on Reggae Woman. Next came another strong showing of two songs I will have a hard time ever getting tired of in Tweezer and Twist. It’s not often I find myself wishing that one song be scrapped from a set entirely, but I have never been much of a fan of Taste and an extra eight minutes of  Tweezer or Twist  would have been quite nice seeing as those two songs were clearly the highlight of set two.

After Taste, the set never seemed to fully pick up steam again. Standards of Quinn the Eskimo, Julius, another “Rock and Roll,” and a decent Harry Hood rounded out the middle of set two. After another ho-hum version of Show of Life I thought I was going to see nine Phish shows without hearing one of my all-time favorites. I was wrong.

Set two was up and down, but ended with an incredible version of Slave to the Traffic Light that was just beautiful, as well as fitting due to the grueling drive ahead of us the following morning. A classic encore combo of Sleeping Monkey and Tweezer Reprise (with no damn fireworks) closed out an overall solid July 4th show at Jones Beach.

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Websites & Links: Phish.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LivePhish.com

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Looking Back at The Hangout 2012 ~ Reviews, Videos, Photos & Audio

Reviews & Photos

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Websites & Links: HangoutMusicFest.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Myspace

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Looking Back at Summer Camp 2012 ~ Reviews, Photos, Videos & Audio

Reviews & Photos

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Festival Review ~ The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival 2011

Day 1 ~ Thursday Sept. 8th

Days prior to the Werk Out Music Festival the weather was looking a little worrisome with predictions of scattered thunderstorms everyday. I packed my long-sleeve shirts, multiple pairs of pants, gloves, and a hat to stay warm through the cold nights. However, it was by far the best weather a music festival could every hope for. Sunny skies peered over the festival all three days, and we were all graced with random cloud cover and a gracious breeze. The festival was set on a 100 acre park owned and operated by a descendant of the Historic Shawnee Nation in Ohio.

Originally supposed to open for the festival, Blue Moon Soup, a newer folk bluegrass band, took the stage before Psychedelphia. The band hails from Ohio and recently got together in 2010. They were a younger group of musicians: a fiddler, mandolin player, upright bassist, and guitar and were  full of energy on stage and off. I found that they even enjoy playing their instruments on top of vehicles or simply by a fire. They truly possess the bluegrass spirit.

The first time I feel in love with Psychedelphia was at The 2010 Muncie Springfest Music Festival in Indiana. I was absolutely stoked to see they were traveling back to the Midwest. They have an amazing sound that is full of funk, blues, and psychedelic rhythms that rock your soul. The kinda have the ability to put you in a giddy state. Psychedelphia was a great closer for Thursday with crazy lights and endless jams that kept us dancing all night.

Day 2 ~ Friday Sept. 9th

Friday, I woke to the hot sun beating down on my tent. My friends and I made a shelter with a tarp and two sticks; the best festie approach to obtain the much needed shade. I proceeded to roam through the festival grounds to find the Wuhnurth stage and see how big the grounds stretched. I trailed to the back of the woods and found great views and nice shade from the sun. The Wuhnurth stage was nestled in the far back with tarps and stringing lights around the stage. The Wuhnurth stage had lushes trees and greenery all around; perfect to find your inner chi during yoga in the morning. I headed back to camp to make breakfast and had the company of Oh Kee Pa, a Phish cover band to groove to.

The Folkadelics brought a little Sublime reggae flavor with hip-hop and a little beat-boxing mixed in. The three part vocal harmonies from Sam, Danny, and Gavin brought a lot variety to their songs. The band played gentle melodic songs during their day set. They generally tour the Northeast area and visit Ohio often, so keep your eye out.

Also playing a day set were The Mantras who brought a relaxing mysterious feel to my body. They seemed to have just enough of the “It” factor to get those late risers to the stage. Their jamming rock n’ roll sound kept my mind drifting off into jam heaven.

After the beginning of The Mantras, I traveled to the Wuhnurth Stage to see Catch Curtis, who hail from Muncie, Indiana. It has been quite some time since I experienced one of their shows and was stoked to see them. The band is a four piece with electrifying keys from Ashton Kleemann, amazing six string shredder Matt Parkison, trippi guitar by Josh Lockwood, and the banging drum beats. The band has jazz theory in their background while combining funk and experimental jam to make a fusion frenzy.

The night was started off right with a set from Kyle Hollingworth Band. The set was great and Hollingsworth  even sang a new song that he didn’t even know the lyrics to. He reminded the audience of this when grabbing a setlist make sure to ask because you may actually be taking sheet notes! The festival got a little taste of Hollingworth’s second solo ablum called “Then There’s Now,” which was released mid September.

EOTO, members of String Cheese Incident Jason Hann and Michael Travis, followed their fellow SCI bandmate Kyle Hollingsworth on stage with an electronic dub mix. These masterminds had everyone getting down with some nasty beats. They covered “How Low can You Go,” as well as a Phil Collins song and had the crowd eating out of their hands. Electronic music sure has come a long way.

The host band, The Werks, were blasting lasers in our faces all night on Friday. It was a full show including: rage sticks, acrobatics dangling next to the stage, and fire being shot in the air. The crowd was full of energy and postive vibes. Highlights from the set include battling of percussions between Jason Hann from EOTO and Aaron Armstrong from The Werks. Also, Johnny Neel from the Allman Bros and Norman Dimitrouleas from The Werks jammed together on a single keyboard. A fact I did not know about Johnny Neel is he’s partially blind. While sharing the keyboard Norman would try to guide Johnny during transitions.

Friday night ended with Everyone Orchestra and Matt Butler conducting with his magnificent erase board. This turned out to be one of my favorite summer performances and was by far one of the top sets all weekend. This was a complete improv-set with all the members from String Cheese Incident except Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley, Jamie Janover from Zilla, and the featured band The Werks. Butler encouraged the audience to whisper and scream in unison with the orchestras fat funky bass lines and disco drum kicks. Butler does a great job of making you feel like you’re in the band; the evenings crowd was in full participation.

Day 3 ~ Saturday Sept. 10th

Saturday started with an amazing yoga journey at the Wuhnurth Stage. It was incredibly peaceful with trees blowing in the wind and the sound of nature awakening our souls. There aren’t many better ways to start a day!

The Floorwalkers, reign from Columbus Ohio. They brought a great bluesy rock set to brighten my day before The Twin Cats took the stage. The Floorwalkers are led by the amazing soulful voice of Jonathan Elliott. A man singing reggae tunes that can make you feel like your in a blues bar. Be sure to check them out October 21st at Radio Radio in Indianapolis.

A sound they like to call, Face Funk, The Twin Cats bring face melting funk straight to your core. Combining synth-driven antics, an upbeat sax, and fat bass. These boys hail from Indianapolis and set the bar for the rest of the evening.

The amazing and talented Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson was truly an honor to see perform. Gorgeous white hair flowed around Donna’s face while rockin’ on stage. Her presence was unmatched as she brought beauty, grace, and a beaming smile. You can tell she was entranced by the atmosphere and happy to take part in such a great music festival. 

Saturday night was filled with Donna Jean Godchaux being able to play with her own band and then joining Dark Star Orchestra. This was exciting to hear her bring back The Jerry Garcia Band tunes she once did vocals for. It was a full Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia experience with DSO. Since this amazing opportunity arose, set times were pushed back and bands played longer than scheduled. It was an astonishing time which is actually hard to put into words. I felt like I was viewing the past with the present staring me in the face.

As sets were pushed back, The Werks played a tremendous set while bringing Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff Mattson from Dark Star Orchestra, and Johnny Neel on stage. A big thanks was given by Chris Houser to everyone who contributed their hard work and made such a great event take place. In conclusion, everyone who was in attendance for The Werks set. It was as if we were all welcomed home and into their family. It was a great warm feeling you don’t find at larger festivals and something The Werks family obviously takes pride in.
Roevy was still to play one of the late night sets. As the set was starting to begin, the crowd noticed the volume was set lower. Starting to chant “turn it up” and demanding more bass, one of the members from Roevy decided to blare his speaker to emphasize the need for the volume to be turned up. They had a great turn out and the crowd raged even harder due to the volume being so soft.
Eumatik scheduled to play at 2:30 A.M. didn’t get on stage till 4:30 in the morning. I was definitely not going to miss this epic dance party. As Chris Houser has been known to say during every Werks set, “Now is the time to TAKE A STEP BACK.” Ashton Kleemann on keyboards worked wonders and recorded Chris saying this during their set and later sampled Chris saying this which created a mind blowing realization.

Eumatik was by far the best late night set all weekend. A Eumatik set is never the same with improvisational skills in jazz, dub, disco- fever, and trance. This kept many of us raging in full force all night long. The festival could not have ended any better. If you haven’t seen these guys, please check out their opening set for Papadosio, Wednesday October 12 at the Lafayette Theater.

Day 4 ~ Sunday Sept. 11th
After a short rest I woke up Sunday morning packed my home and headed back to Indiana before the rain made a surprise visit. Again, thank you Werk Out for an amazing time and welcoming me into your family! See you next year. 🙂

Written by The Kels Monster

**To view more photos please visit my Facebook Album

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Looking Back at All Good 2011 ~ Videos, Reviews, and Photos

Festival Reviews
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Websites & Links: AllGoodFestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | Myspace | Soundcloud

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Looking Back at Camp Bisco X ~ Videos, Reviews, & Photos

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Websites & Links: CampBisco.net | Facebook | Vimeo | Twitter | Myspace

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Looking Back at Electric Forest 2011 ~ Videos, Reviews, and Photos

Day 1: Thursday June 30th

Day 2: Friday July 1st

Day 3: Saturday July 2nd

Day 4: Sunday July 3rd
Weekend Reviews
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Websites & Links: ElectricForestFestival.com | YouTube | Facebook

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Looking Back at Super Ball IX ~ Videos, Reviews, and Photos

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Websites & Links: SuperBallIX.com | Phish.com | LivePhish.com

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Looking Back at Stable Studios Music Festival 2011 ~ Videos, Reviews, and Photos

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Looking Back at Summer Camp 2011 ~ Videos, Reviews, and Photos


Summer Camp Festival Reviews

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Websites & Links: SummerCampFestival.com | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

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Album ~ ‘Give Till It’s Gone’ by Ben Harper

Editorial Review from Amazon.com

“With “Rock N’ Roll Is Free,” the album’s first single, Harper pays tribute to an audacious art form that continually challenges the status quo, demanding that we look at the world in “a brand new way.” The song was inspired by rock legend Neil Young, whom Harper opened for in London last summer. Young’s mesmerizing performance of “Rockin’ in the Free World” planted the seeds of a new song in Harper’s mind, compelling him to go straight back to his room after the show and write “Rock N’ Roll Is Free.” The incident is emblematic of the kind of urgency with which the new album was forged.

Harper recorded most of Give Till It’s Gone – his first solo record since 2006’s Both Sides of the Gun – at the Los Angeles studio of Jackson Browne, who harmonizes with him on the wistful “Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn.” The album also features two tracks co-written with Ringo Starr – the exuberant, psychedelic-tinged “Spilling Faith” and “Get There From Here,” an improvisational instrumental. Starr, who also plays drums on the songs, tapped Harper for his 2010 album, Y Not.
“I’ve never made a record that was such a timeline,” says Harper. “It’s a real extension of the last year and half in my life, and all these sounds are inspired by my experiences. It’s as honest a musical statement as I could make.”
With Give Till It’s Gone, Harper examines the disparity between the man he is today and the man he endeavors to become. Reaching deep within, he discovers there are no easy answers, but implores us to go the distance with him on this journey in the moving album opener, “Don’t Give Up On Me Now.” While its songs are highly personal, Give Till It’s Gone illuminates the universal struggle to find meaning and fully engage with life and one another. We may pass through a dark night of the soul, but giving up is not a viable option, as Harper reminds us with certainty in the transcendent “I Will Not Be Broken.”
Harper made his debut in 1994 with Welcome to the Cruel World, which was subsequently certified Gold. In 2005, he received GRAMMY awards for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” for his single “11th Commandment” and for “Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album” for There Will Be A Light, featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama. His three most recent studio albums – Both Sides of the Gun (2006), Lifeline (2007) and White Lies for Dark Times (2009) – debuted in the Top 10 of The Billboard 200. Harper formed Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur and the trio released the album As I Call You Down in 2010.”

Websites & Links: BenHarper.com | Give Till It’s Gone

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Show Review ~ Keller Williams at The Vogue 3.17.11

Photos & Review by Rex Thomson
Photo Album by Rex-A-Vision

The wall of sound produced you’re confronted with at a Keller Williams show is remarkable for many reasons, but the most amazing thing of all is that it is produced by one man all at once. And don’t mistake what Keller does for the endless sea of Lap top wielding “Free-mixers” and such cropping up daily, he’s a one man band with a plan! His versatility is legendary; he has fronted bands like The String Cheese Incident, played with full bands and in collaborations from “The Sexy Bitches” to his recent project with Larry and Jenny Keel, called, appropriately “Keller and the Keels”. His tone and songwriting reflect a man happily at peace with his lot in life, and his sometimes zany songs reflect a loving innocence and a smiling knowing all at once. His most recent release, an all age’s package called simply “Kids” proved a point I’ve been making for years; Keller is all ages appropriate. But, to my ears, Keller is never better than when he stands alone.

With the streets of Indianapolis’s Broad Ripple district packed with revelers enjoying the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, Keller’s appearance at the Vogue Theater was perfectly timed to push the party over the top. With no opener, just two long sets of Keller to come, the fans who packed the floor were ready for their entertainment to begin. Keller enters as he most always does…Strumming along before he’s even hit the stage. Entering stage left, he ambled to the front of the stage, grinning his schoolboy smile at the eager faces beaming back at him. He stood in front of his array of instruments, A Bass guitar and a second Guitar on a stand, Behind that a pair of drum and rhythm machines. Still further back sat A large digital mixing array, with controls and MIDI linked sounds to make his guitars sound like 100 piece horn sections and steel drums, among a myriad of other sounds. One thing you don’t have to worry about at a Keller show is the music getting repetitive from his solitary stage presence, he can easily do the work of a ten piece band all by himself, which, in this economy, has to be admired. All these electronic aids mean nothing without the skill to use them, and his years of practice have served him well in that regard.

However, it all boils down to one essential truth: The man plays a mean Guitar. Loose and open in his scales and runs, or devastating precise when he is making a note stretched point, Keller stands at the forefront of the stage after exiting the wings alone musically, but at one with his personal love of music, talent and the vibe of the crowd. Stopping short and calling to the crowd, onlookers quickly picked up their cue and shouted in joy at each break and crooked leer given to them by Williams. Taking a full tour of the stage front, Keller then ensconced himself in his nest f instruments and small percussive toys, and the show proper began. Approaching the mounted Bass Guitar, he thumped out a thick groove and with a tap of a foot pedal, got it looping to infinity. He then danced over to the Guitar stand and repeated the same action, this time establishing a splashy strumming rhythmic piece to thicken the sound, before bringing his drum pad into play. All this took happened in little more than a minute, and he had the equivalent of a three piece backing band working behind him. Not every song receives the full Loop treatment for backing, and there are some instances where building the Loop itself is the song, sort of a live experiment, mixing in dozens of sounds, from circuit bending toys, to tiny drums and cymbals to household objects pressed into musical service. With a palpable joy, he dutifully builds his structures, tweaking the knobs of his Mixer adding layers of effects until he’s satisfied and turns himself loose on us all.

One of the benefits of doing it all yourself is the ability to change direction on a dime, and be able to switch the setlist up to match the mood of the room. I got a glimpse of the set list prior to the show, but, as the crowd was in a dancing mood, he called an audible and inserted a fun looping “Groove is in the Heart” by nineties one hit wonder Deee Lite! As the sense of recognition went thru the crowd, the energy in the room bumped up a notch. Appealing to the more mellow folks in the audience, his fable story song, “Doobie in my Pocket” about the perils of forgetfulness in our modern world struck a chord amongst the attendees, and was met with howls of delight as was a chorus filtered epic version of the Butthole Surfers tune “Pepper”. Though he strives to give each song its own sound, the unifying thread was as always his signature theme of irreverence. There is a time and a place for all things, and a Keller show is a time to blow off steam and let go of the hassles of life. Adding to that energy the shamrock bead wearing, green bedecked crowd, enjoying Irish beers and whiskeys, and you have the perfect ingredients for a love stew!

The second set started out the same as the first, but speedily grew funkier. The Bass line for the Grateful Dead classic “Fire on the Mountain” was repeatedly teased, and eventually the only angry Keller song I’ve ever heard, “Gatecrashers Suck” was unveiled. The song rails against the kids who flattened a fence at The Dead’s Deer Creek concert in 1995, and the subsequent cancellation of the second night’s performance. Keller, like me, was in attendance that night, and was planning on seeing the second show as well. Unfortunately, Dead Founder and spiritual center soon fell ill and passed away, ending an era. A staple at any show in Indiana, Williams pointedly asks the crowd during the song if any of them were among the offenders, then seemingly tries to memorize the face of any foolish enough to answer in the affirmative. I worry that he is making a list, and that one day he is going to do something rash! The Grateful Dead Vibe continued, as he pulled out his version of “Scarlet Begonias” half way through mixing in lyrics from his ode to the traveling performers everywhere, “Freakshow.” On top of that, the Bass line call outs to “Fire on the Mountain” were finally brought to fruition, as all three songs were being played, simultaneously, with Keller somehow not losing his place, not that any of us would know if he did. The true glory of creation is no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong!

Interestingly, there was an entire tune mixed on an Imac laptop, with Keller dancing while he stroked the keyboard. It seemed almost a statement about the “Push Play” and dance kids, but I just can’t be sure. After a glorious percussive Loop involving every instrument on the stage, Williams walked off the stage for a moment of refreshment before the encore. Asking the crowd what they wanted to hear, was, as always a sure way to get the people going, and many of his classics were called for. But his biggest hit, “Freaker by the Speaker” was the most requested by a large margin, and after a few comical false starts, the fan favorite hit everyone in their right place, and the jubilation built to a natural crescendo. After giving one of the most sincere thank you’s I have heard in a long time, Keller left the stage as he had entered it, smiling, leaving behind a packed house sharing his happiness. That’s all you can ask of a performer, and that’s exactly what Keller gave us!
Words and pictures by Rex Thomson

Websites & Links: KellerWilliams.net | Rex-A-Vision | Photo Album | TheVogue.com

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Festival Review ~ Frosty Moon Midwest Summit Rocks Emens

Review by Elle Fassler
Photos by Aaron Lingenfelter

Local and regional bands lit up John R. Emens Auditorium Saturday night for its first indoor music festival. The Frosty Moon Midwest Summit featured more than 10 bands, including Catch Curtis, Embryonic Fluid, MC Sparkplug and The Waldemere Revival. It also included vendors, contests and alcoholic beverages in the balcony lobby.

The lobby stage also showcased many of the talented local bands. The entrance where the fans and students came in offered food and drinks, and the venues were emphasized with lights and decorations.

Emens collaborated with Hidden Relic and TheHippieSeed.com to present an all-ages event to bring awareness to the local music scene.

“These local bands are just as talented musicians as the bands you hear on the radio,” said TheHippieSeed.com owner Jason Montgomery. “These events are for the people to have a good time and exposure for the bands, which is important to help the scene grow.”

The bands also enjoyed participating in the collaborative event.

“This event is a big coming together of people who enjoy music, and people who want to express themselves through music, and people who enjoy life, it is a beautiful thing,” bass guitarist of the Waldemere Revival, Blain Crawford, said. “I feel like any great piece of music, as in any great painting, or sculpture comes to you influenced by anything or any feeling that you need to let out.”

Lead vocalist of the Waldemere Revival, Steve Martin, said he loved being a part of the event, and enjoyed expressing his music with his band.

“I try to keep everything I do as emotional as possible. And try to make it real, soulful, and touch people. I try to keep it as real as possible, and that is where my musical inspiration comes into play,” Martin said.

The bands transformed Emens into their own music venue, but also shared the stage with artists who could be seen painting on stage.

“It is a beautiful venue to showcase local talent. It is nice to be able to showcase that outside of regular rock clubs and bars,” drummer and percussionist for the Waldemere Revival, Justin Atkins, said. “It is a beautiful facility that we are on stage and sharing the same stage with amazing artists, who have came through and shared here, so its nice, and it means a lot.”

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Festival Review ~ North Coast Music Festival 2010

Hidden Relic Review by Kelsey Ransom

What an epic Labor Day weekend at North Coast! Festival attendees came by subway, car, and even walked from the city to enjoy the three days of preposterous electronica & more face melting music at Union Park, IL. The festival had a four stages, merchandise, art vendors, and an endless amount of food vendors. With it being North Coast’s first year, the amount of attendees were unknown; but the astonishing line up brought out 10,000-15,000 people and filled Union Park over the course of three days.

I started my Friday off with Paul Van Dyk, a Dj from Berlin, bringing electronica and trance music to life. He set the tone for the rest of the evening with Pretty Lights taking the Groupon: What’s a Music? Stage; with an eclipse of lights that overwhelmed the crowd. They raged with “Finally Moving,” “Hot Like Sauce,” a crowd favorite, and “High School Art Class.” The Chemical Brothers closed the North Stage Friday. Their stage set up was amazingly different than any of the other bands. A full visualizor screen conveying images and flowing lights blew me away. The Chemical Brothers raged with “Galvanize,” “Hey Boy Hey Girl,” “Another World,” and “Swoon,” with walking images of people over the visualizor. This show was by far one of my favorites.

After the Chemical Brothers were done, the festival grounds closed. However, the after parties went full force with The Disco Biscuits, Jay Electronica, and Orchard Lounge at the Congress Theater. Two other after parties also shook up Chicago at the Bottom Lounge, located a block away from the festival, and Schubas, located across town.

Day two was also full of adventure starting off with New Mastersounds and a surprising house DJ from The Netherlands, Laidback Luke, took the Coast Stage with a ton of crazy beats, keeping the crowd bump’N. Next, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals filled the North Stage and surprised all with a powerful uplifting set. Grace covered Jefferson’s Airplane “Somebody to Love” giving me chills the whole time. Set to play at the Groupon: What’s a Music? Stage The New Deal rocked me with a jam electronica sound that kept my body mov’N. This was a dance party that will never be forgotton.

After The New Deal, Future Rock hit the stage, with Herm on lights, bringing a heavy jam to North Coast. Boys Noize lit the sky with flashing lights and brought the crowd to a full on RAGE! Next, Moby (DJ) came out during Boys Noize and took over the table with continuous music. Moby brought all ages of ragers to experience one of the greatest shows of the festival! Moby hit the stage hard and kept the energy a blazed. The last sets for Saturday concluded with De La Soul holding up the hip-hop end of the festival, bringing incredible flows. Umphrey’s McGee closed the North Stage with “Booth Love,” “Conduit,” amazing guitar solos, and jams to free your mind.

After the festival was closed, my peeps and I hurried to Bottom Lounge to experience Boys Noize, Kissy Sell Out, and Auto Body. Auto Body was a grand surprised from Austin Texas, whose high voice pitches complimented the melody while the bass still ripped your face off. Boys Noize was funky fresh making the crowd rolling till the peak hours. Kissy Sell Out, from London, closed the show with mixes from all genres.

Last days are always sad at festivals, yet simmer down Sunday was just as great as the first two days. Maps and Atlases started my day with chill vibes and melodic tones. Benny Benassi woke the crowd up and the rage began. The crowd became rabid as the drops became heavier and heavier. Flying Lotus was by far my favorite of the day. His hands never stopped bringing the drops and the dub to vibrate my body. He sampled Radiohead and Bone Thugs N Harmony “Ecstasy”. He definitely surprised me with his beats and skill. I definitely recommend seeing this artist.

As I had already seen The Disco Biscuits at the after party, I decided to see Lupe Fiasco and Nas & Damian Marley to end my North Coast adventure. Lupe flowed with “Go Go Gadget Flow,” “Superstar,” and “Hip Hop Saved My Life.” Nas and Damian closed the North Stage with peace, love, and enlightenment. A Jamaican flag dancer consistently waved the flag the whole hour and a half set. Nas dogged on the cheaters and haters and stood up for all real men. Contradictary enough, to end the show, Nas spoke on America being the best in the world while sharing the stage with Damian. A glance and a “Hey Man” from Damian, quickly grounded Nas and brought him back to the true meaning of equality.

North Coast was a Rage’N time and I can’t wait for next year. The line-up was spectacular. My favorite shows were The Disco Biscuits, Chemical Brothers, Flying Lotus, the surprising Laidback Luke, and the list is too long to continue. The vibes were great, the water supplies were limited to one fountain. However, the music was the magical twist to ignite the crowd. If you didn’t make it this year, I definitely recommend this festival!

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