Monday, April 24, 2006

Welcome, Welcome

We've got great photos, short videos, streaming audio, wacky stories and subjective reviews...but first, a little Table of Contents:

Initials Onslaught: TLG @ CBGB

Particle 2.0
Umphrey's Day Set
Where's Ace-do?
Coming Soon
Grace Potter on Vanderbilt Ave.
Gracias for the Gratis
The Patchouli Grammys
Sitting Down with Rock Stars

Enjoy. Look around. Sound off. Do it.

Initials Onslaught: TLG @ CBGB

Some day I'm gonna gather 'round my illegitimate kids and tell them about an April Saturday in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand Six.

I'll tell the tale of a young band of Californian adventurers who tore up one of the most legendary musical establishments in the cradle of modern cilivization. Nearly three hours after midnight, after a somewhat impromptu 12-song third set and three-tune, please-never-stop encore, I could've sworn the tireless band and fiery crowd had rendered CBGB roofless.

(Thankfully I'm speaking only metaphorically, otherwise the crowd of raging revelers would surely have been douched by the 24-hour record rainfall that drenched New York on Saturday.)

I've lived in New York -- rain or shine -- for 22+ of my 26+ years, yet I'd never stepped foot inside the storied Bowery rock club. By the time I came of age, the lineups had turned to shit. And since owner Hilly Kristal must pack up and vacate the premises when the lease ends on Halloween this year, I thought the gods of monotheism were smiling down upon me when Tea Leaf Green signed up to play there for this weekend's Green Apple Music Festival.

Yes, I'll go to that. I'll attend that show. Sure.

Only four bands in the history of music have so easily extracted and enhanced the obsessive compulsive predispositions that dwell deep inside my psyche. One of them, Talking Heads, famously played the now-sunsetting CBGB in its growth stage, though I was born a bit too late. I never saw The Band or Grateful Dead either, which may explain the later intensity of my described disorder.

I luckily saw the popular rock band Phish six days after my 16th birthday and have forever since indulged in the richness of their delight. I had to know everything about them: their history, their songs, their shows, their routines. Fueled by a flock of like-minded friends, I'd eventually travel to 13 states and the District of Columbia and amass a tape collection more obsolete than a two-week old iPod. That is, until The Phish from Vermont hung 'em up, the Coolest Dorks Alive relinquishing their awesome title.

I mention all this for one reason: It's impossible to explain my thoughts on this band without showing the roots. So I'd like to pre-emptively issue a "Relax, broseph" to anyone who doesn't like comparing bands to other bands, for reasons I cannot comprehend.

I will make one comparison, though. Like Phish my first 10-20 shows, TLG gets hyperbolically better every time I see them. Tighter. Looser. More Confident. They've got the swagger now. They don't take a night off. They don't take a note off.

I've caught eight shows in the last seven months, streamed and downloaded as many shows as time and hard drive memory would allow and mentioned TLG on my real blog about 25 times. Oh, momma, I'm feeling those familiar feelings, that bug crawling around my soul telling me to fork over an unreasonable percentage of my annual disposable income to a bunch of ne'er-do-well musicians.

No matter how much better they've been getting from show to show, I'm not sure anyone outside the band's inner circle truly expected a five-hour, three-set, 36-song monster. Sure they played six equally unbelievable sets over two nights in November -- a CD release party to end all CD release parties -- but it takes a group of rising stars in concert to surpass everyone's already high expectations for the event.

From the rockin' Morning Sun > Criminal Intent, Kali-Yuga > Garden II opening barrage to the Dragonfly, Can't Get High > Ride Together "Thanks for stayin' folks" encore, the band did just that. The first set was great, the second set was absolutely incredible and the third set was off the charts. I had some charts, but now I need a whole new set of charts, that's how off the charts that last set was.

The energy in that room could have healed the sick.

They nailed everything on this night. The songs and segues kept coming, with the jams and peaks, jammier and peakier? What are the right words there?

They showed off the new tunes in the rotation, potential monsters, like The Devil's Pay and Jezebel, broke out sick versions of current setlist standards like Franzerbeak, Freedom, Gasaholic and These Two Chairs. The Sex in the 70s sandwich > Waiting for the Man was monumental. Two Ramones covers in honor of the stage on which they were standing? Looney Bin, Can You Guess It?, that Taught To Be Proud, a third-set Garden II-less Garden segue...

I could craft a list of highlights as long as the tax code. But this is the finest compliment I can give: They fucking rocked that place.

Through the first 24 days of April, Tea Leaf Green's played only three shows, and each one has been a Where Were You When? rager. Energizing the West Coast crowd at The Fillmore and Noe Valley Ministry wasn't good enough. No, they had to fly 3,000 miles across the country to slay the East Coast contigent. And slay us they did.

Part of me could only wish this show took place at Hampton Coliseum, or maybe even MSG on New Year's, to hear it played in with an arena sound and an arena atmosphere. But then it wouldn't have been so magical. It's not every day you get to see your favorite touring band in the country at the rockiest rock club that ever rocked.

Oh yeah, I'll be telling the kids about this one some day. And I'm gonna look like a damn cool father. First I need to steal some kids.

Odds & Ends: Here are some videos we took from the show: Video 1 & Video 2. And this is a complete Kali-Yuga, although I should warn you it didn't work when I tried to download it. Might work for you.

The show has made its way up on, so feel free to stream or download it here. And now you can download the entire show from etree.

Tea Leaf Green @ CBGB, 4/22/06
10PM to 3AM

Set I: Morning Sun > Criminal Intent, Kali-Yuga > Garden 2, Faced With Love, One Reason > The Invasion, Reservoir, Bouncin' Betty, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker #
Set 2: Gasaholic > These 2 Chairs > Wet Spot, Incandescent Devil, The Devil's Pay, My Bastard Brother > Franz Hanzerbeak > Addressing The Community > Franz Hanzerbeak, Zoom Zoom, Freedom, Teenage Lobotomy # > Death Cake
Set Three: Tequila > Jezebel > Loony Bin, Can You Guess It?, Garden 1 > Garden 3, Make A Connection, Taught To Be Proud > Sex In The 70's > If You Believe It (It Will Come True) > Sex In The 70's > I'm Waiting For The Man
Encore: Dragonfly, Can't Get High > Ride Together

# First time played, Ramones cover

Also, feel free to click on my November interview with the band at Coda, the last time these fools dropped three incredible sets on New York City.

Many thanks to Bonny Lee and Pilgrims622 from the TLG Forum for some of these awesome close-up photos...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Particle 2.0

Sometimes change is a great thing. Sometimes it's just pretty good.

Particle debuted its new five-man lineup a few weeks back, bringing in Badshoe's Ben Combe and RANA's Scott Metzger to share the guitar load following the dubious departure of Charlie Hitchcock.

I welcomed the move for two reasons: First, I could only appreciate the old Particle in 20-minute doses, and secondably, Metzger is a top-notch shredder in any scene. Combe I'd never heard of previously, but I was anxious to see how these changes would affect my view.

The second coming of Particle is much like the first, only with the occasional lyric and a rock influence from the two new bandmates. I personally think the whole "These guys are a totally different band" label is greatly exaggerated. The same old rave aspects persist, only packaged a little more to the mainstream rock crowd.

Sure, Metzger and Combe are provided opportunities to shred solos previously unseen, and they really do put on a good show. But I wouldn't be ready with my Most Improved Band trophy just yet (it's still being polished anyway). These guys are truly great at what they do, they really are. But, me, I don't love what they do. I just like it.

Onto the pics...The new Particle lineup -- one, two, three, four, five -- take the stage and launch into the first tune of the night:

Adding a rock tinge to the Particle Proceedings, Scott Metzger looks down at the stage before launching into a fine solo.

Particle's glue is Steve Molitz, seen here below fingering the keys:

And below, here's Steve Molitz after his stint in an Afghani rebel camp when he went by the name John Walker Lindh:

Grateful Dead drummer and one-time Particle co-conspirator Mickey Hart drops by to play the calculator. Or the mousetrap. Or whatever the (rhythm) devil that thing is. Nothing like agreeing to sit in with an up-and-coming band and playing a glorified Simon.

The sudden abundance of the classic Rock/Devil Horns at shows these days is borderline mind-blowing. I love it.

Take a bow, Mickey. I think you just did Particle's taxes.

Ben puts down his geetar to sing for a little while. Particle, now with lyrics! (Well, sometimes.)

I just thought this one below was a bit trippy:

Scruffy Ace and Lovely Rachel await the night's festivities...

A good show, a fun show, but it didn't floor me by any means. They hit some really raging peaks that whipped the Particle People into a raving frenzy, but after a while the songs and jams just seemed to sound very similar. Still, it's always nice to see a band having fun on stage, and these guys surely do.

I'm still putting them in the "Great Festival Band" catagory, a fine act for 30 to 45 minutes, and now even better with the new axemen.

Here's a nice, brief video clip of Prince's Let's Go Crazy from the new and improved band. For good measure, here's another, which should illustrate their new sound a bit better.

Umphrey's Day Set

I guess you can think of this as a Memento post: Let's start with the end first and work our way backward.

Just before leaving the stage, Bayliss announced Umphrey's McGee will officially be playing Summer Stage at Central Park some time, well, this summer. First they play a free show for the masses outside Grand Central, then they announce a return to one of the coolest places in the city...that's a serious double dose of New York Fan appreciation.

Shortly before the well-received Proclamation of Gig, the band ended the set with an awesome version of Bridgeless, the impressive opener I caught at February's Nokia show. I'm not the biggest UM fan out there -- I really enjoy their shows, but I only occasionally listen to them outside a venue -- but I try to listen to that Bridgeless at least once a week on the way home from work. It's a great subway tune, which is fitting because the New York subway system is about the only place in the city that is indeed bridgeless.

Umph fans throw up the horns after a great set:

As you can see below, the freaky freakies came out in full force for the Earth Day celebration yesterday, including a woman with parrots perched on both hands.

Will Jake survive the parrot-pecking of a lifetime?

Seriously, down in front, parrots. Here's a 30-second video of Bridgeless, with those funky birds gettin' down. And here's another 44-second clip, before our feathered friends distracted the shit out of everybody.

Above and below, Jake does a bit of a Jack in the Box routine before the show officially starts.

At first the street wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it'd be, and there weren't nearly as many Ari and Uzi Tenenbrahs hangin' out in the front row. Eventually the street filled up, but still, those that made the trip were treated to an incredible afternoon of South Bend flavor.

I'll let the always eloquent BG sum up the UM set perfectly: "Oh, and in a 45 minute set, there were two parrots hanging out in the middle of the crowd, at least one jumbo-sized hoola-fucking-hoop, honest to god one group of hot 19 year old chicks, a Chinese dragon walking through the crowd, a dude beating on a conga drum (I would have stuffed that thing up his ass if he had been within earshot of us), and a stealth taper with mics on his glasses two feet away from us..."

Not bad for 1 pm on a Friday.

04/21/06 Earth Day Fair, New York, NY
In the Kitchen, Utopian Fir > Higgins, Bridgeless

CLICK HERE to download a full video of the day set...

04/21/06 CBGB, New York, NY
Set I: Believe the Lie, Dump City> Got Your Milk (Right Here)> Blue Echo> Dump City, Walletsworth > Glory, Making Flippy Floppy
Set II: 40's Theme, The Bottom Half > JaJunk, The Fussy Dutchman, Marquee Moon5> Eat, Pay the Snucka
Encore: Uncle Wally, Miss Tinkle's Overture

Follow these links to download Set I and Set II of the official CBGB webcast from this show...

Where's Ace-do?

ScottyB found this pic, which contains more Ace than any other photo I didn't take at these shows...

Can you spot the Cowboy?

Coming Soon

The new and improved Particle at the Bowery Ballrom. Mickey Hart stopped by to play the calculator. Or the mousetrap.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grace Potter on Vanderbilt Ave.

Fresh off her breakout performance at the Jammys, where she sang a badass version of Neil Young's Cortez the Killer with Joe Satriani and Steve Kimock among others, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals officially kicked off the Green Apple festivities at noon today.

By 12:05, I was blown away. By 12:45, I was in love.

The young Vermont seductress and her animated, talented band played an incredible set, blending funky blues riffs with gospel-inspired rock to make everyone at the show wonder why they've never heard of her. She's got an incredible set of pipes (no innuendo necessary), and her musical chops can never be questioned: Hammond B3, piano, acoustic guitar, it's all working for her.

Next time you see her name coming to a venue nigh your hometown, make it your beeswax to get there. You shan't be disppointed.

And here's a quick video of Ms. Potter and her band cookin' with gas on the streets of New York City...

Here's another of the fabulous song bird and her band.

Gracias for the Gratis

The good folks hosting the Green Apple Music Festival planted some great free shows on Vanderbilt Avenue outside Grand Central Station today...Here's what the scene looked like over there:

As to be expected with free shows, the scene was peppered with pushy vendors giving out free shit. The Vonage Girl gave me some kind of seeds in a small packet, wishing me a "Happy Birthday from Vonage." On second thought, maybe she said "Happy Earth Day." I just got that right now, I swear.

But my favorite exchange played out during Grace Potter's set, when the Netflix Girl tried to give me a coupon of sorts.

Netflix: "Here, have a coupon from Netflix."
Ace: "Sorry, I hate movies. They fucking suck. All of 'em."
Netflix: "Wow, really? How can you hate movies?"
Ace: "They're all terrible. Man, I really hate movies."
Netflix: "Capote was good."
Ace: "I heard that."
Netflix: "So take this."
Ace: "You sold me. Good work."

I took the coupon, but I've since thrown it away. Still, I left with a new friend.

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, the Hybrid Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, the Hybrid Bus)

Much like the Phish on Letterman marquee in 2004, seeing music on New York City streets might be my favorite pastime. I'll tell ya, big buildings as a backdrop = sweetness.

Hopefully the rain holds off Saturday and I can hit this place again for Bela Fleck and Assembly of Dust.

The Patchouli Grammys

Peter Frampton and his talking guitar... uh, Woodstock folkie Richie Havens, jazz legends McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea... People who are dead? An heir named Dweezil, one of the unnamed Marley kids... Oh, um, people capitalizing on old careers? The Dude abiding, the Rhythm Devils, tap dancer Savion Glover... uh, Blues Traveler. I don't know, people that have never been in my kitchen? Joe Satriani, exaggerated beanpole Manute Bol... PEOPLE ON STAGE AT THE JAMMYS!

Dun, nuh-na-nuh-na-nuh-nuh-na-nuh, dun, nuh-na-nuh-na-nuh-nuh-na-nuh.

Regardless of how the lineup looks on paper, I'm not sure I'll ever miss this show again. The Jammy Awards are all about the interesting mash-ups and clever collaborations, and the ceremonial festivities certainly did not disappoint. And I mean, seriously, any time Manute Bol shows up to give an award for anything other than Tallest Jamband, it's gotta be a good time.

Richie Havens opened the show with a percussion world band called Mutaytor, flanked by freaky dancers, hula hoopers and a two-man Chinese Dragon. Welcome to the Jammys, ya hippies, here's some Burning Man action to make you feel at home here at the Theatre @ Madison Square Garden. Sadly, regretfully, Havens played no longer than five minutes, but he left the stage only after winning the hearts of a late-arriving and very subdued crowd.

Jamband leach DJ Logic joined Blues Traveler and a Dionne Farris-esque Betty Someone for a few tunes, including Magic Carpet Ride. Decent set, though instantly forgettable.

Dual hosts and former Dead drummers Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart then introduced an awesome segment: McCoy Tyner, Bela Fleck & The Fleckstones and Savion Glover. Tyner didn't solo or lead nearly enough, but in 20 minutes it's hard to get everyone playing time. I'm sure the former Coltrane bandmate felt comfortable on stage, though, with Flecktone Jeff Coffin playing more notes than any sax player I've seen live. Damn, these guys were just fun to watch, and they played so well together.

Widespread Panic took home an award for Best Live Album after that, and we were informed the members of WSP had won free Vonage service for life. Wait, what? Why did they announce that? What about us, why don't we get it? Fucking Schools gets free Vonage for life and we don't? How's that fair? Can you even picture Schools on a house phone? This is bullshit, I says.

The only thing that cured my righteous indignation was the next segment: uber-fellated guitar hero Joe Satriani, stool-sitter Steve Kimock and Jammy winner for Most Likely to Give the Audience a Boner, Grace Potter. Man, this chick has pipes (and bazooms). Sexual harassment aside, she was the breakout star of the show as far as I'm concerned. Potter played keys on and sang Cortez the Killer (!) with Satriani and Kimock trading licks, the first real "Hey, wow, this is a cool gig" of the night. Well, that's not true. But for the sake of this paragraph, it is.

After accepting a lifetime achievement award for his old man, Dweezil Zappa and Napoleon Murphy Brock dug up the Frank Zappa shit from out the back of the attic and put on a great set with his music. I was skeptical, but they really pulled it off. Former Miles man Chick Corea sat in on keys for a little bit, but the real highlight was Jake Cinninger from Umphreys, who came out to trade solos with Dweezil. The two went back and forth, and eventually the dueling solos led to a fairly serious prog-rock orgiastic climax.

After that, the crowd started to get to its feet. Until then, the energy was missing from the room, and one of the dudes in my party was actually asked to sit down. Zappa woke everyone up, and it was time for Frampton to take over. Guster played one of their tunes with the Brit in tow, and when I say it was the lowlight of the night, I'm understating it. But they then brought out Martin Sexton and the ensemble kicked in to Do You Feel Like We Do? Thank the gods, because if Frampton hadn't played it, there may have been a non-nitrous-related hippie riot. Here's a fuzzy YouTube video of the pre-talkbox Frampton jam. And here's the talkbox in action, sans title phrase. What a performance, seriously.

moe. and Made Professor followed, with moe. proving once again their might in the so-called jam genre. moe. is really "it" right now. To me, they're the only band out there that can carry any semblence of a torch from the VT Boys. Every time I see them they put on a sick show, and last night's abbreviated set was no different. First they covered The Clash's Guns of Brixton, then broke into a sick Buster, and their set may have been the real no-gimmicks musical highlight of the evening.

A 40-minute Rhythm Devils set followed, featuring the former Dead drummers, Phish bassist Mike Cactus Gordon, members of Mutaytor and a slew of other unshowered ne'er-do-wells. How 'bout some Jingo, some Aiko Aiko and some Voodoo Chile? How 'bout some African vocalists, more drums than you know what to do with? I didn't know if I were completely stoned or if it seemed like this went on forever, but I could have watched four hours of this and been okay. Mickey's also a Grade-A putz, so that's fun as hell to watch. Here's a YouTube video of the end of Jingo...

Mickey then followed with one of the dumbest moments I've seen at an awards ceremony. Mickey begins to give this passionate speech about how our biggest threat isn't Iran and Iraq, or this shitty administration, it's global warming. Global warming is reeeeal, man. And there's a great movie coming out, you all should go see's called, um, well, I don't remember the name of it, but go see it, Al Gore made it. Pretty classic stuff right there. I wish I recorded that.

But then he introduced the finale act, Little Feat. Fannntastic. Like last year's MMW set, Little Feat was joined by a ton of people, most notably some stoned looking Marley kids. Bela came out, the Dead guys, Kimock, Satriani, Charlie Musselwhite and the singers, there had to have been 25 people on stage (like the Rhythm Devils set, which had 24 at one point). A few Marley tunes and a Dixie Chicken later, the show ended and everyone went home happy. Here's a YouTube video of Little Feat, the Marley kid, Billy and Mickey jammin' on Jammin'.

Long live the Jammys...always worth every penny of admission.


(This post can also be seen on Slack LaLane)