Monday, April 24, 2006

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...


At 2:10 PM, Blogger Chilly Jackwater said...

Slack...sorry I missed you at CBGB.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Chilly Jackwater said...

My friends and I had ladyfriends we had to oblige with dinner first, then we all headed down for what proved to be a truly electric affair. We were over by where that dude was passed out by the speaker. Which reminds me, my goal in life is to never be the passed out guy at the concert. I've been "the guy who puked" and "the guy who had too many 'shrooms and thought Phish was playing songs backward," but never "the guy who passed out." Especially not "the guy who passed out at a show where the band was doing everything they could to absolutely rock the f**k out of every song." I mean, being "the guy who passes out at Zero 7" is more plausible. But "the guy who passes out in mid-Death Cake"? Well, that takes more than a little skill.

PS - The Dan & Michael McDonald? Sounds like someone got around to answering a prayer I registered in 1994. If they don't bring him out for "Peg", there's gonna be bloodshed.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Chilly, absolutely too bad we didn't meet of these days and all that jazz. I've never passed out at a show, but then again, concerts are the only thing these days that keep me awake. Everything else puts me to bed.

The Dan and Mikey McD is a dream come true...I cannot wait for that tour!

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Wow, awesome photos! Hot looking band!

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Kenny Alias said...

Everything this man is saying absolutely true.

CBGBs is a smoldering pile of rubble right now.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Passed Out Guy said...

I'm the dude that passed out, and I have been that guy before, although it was a buffet concert and I was in 10th grade and was only there for the party....Anywho...I did make a stellar come back and only missed a little of the second set if any really, I did keep coming back to consciousness....and then with the help of a friend I came back to life and rocked for the remainder of the second, whole third, and encore then hung around CB's for a while afterwards, before continuing my 30 hour non "sleep" journey back to Philadelphia....

Awesome blog ACE great story great reading, amazing bro....

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Like I said on the TLG Forum, as long as you rallied and rallied well, a little pass-out never hurt nobody.

At 3:48 AM, Blogger cynthia01 said...

Why would anybody say it that way, you can easily get your point across in a polite and courteous way. Lets all just get a long.

wow gold

At 9:35 AM, Blogger diving in baja california said...

Gosh, it's nice to hear these little festivals can carry on in the shadow of the big ones like Glastonbury. I've been thinking of trying out different festivals after I came to the realisation that the mud at Glasto made me sad and fed up with everything and the BGF sounds like one for me


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