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Published: 2006/07/20
by Dan Alford

Big Bands in 2004

Quick Picks:
1) moe., 6/17/06- Acoustic set from the Roo
2) Herring, Rogers and Sipe, Live Samples- From their myspace page
3) Ravi Shankar, Monterey Pop, 1967- See last month
4) GD, 2/5/78- A new favorite second set
5) Miles Davis, Complete Plugged Nickel, Disc 3

The Dead, Hartford, CT, 8/3/04

A midweek show at Hartford Meadows, 8/3/04 has an incredibly bright energy and very long sets. The grooves are all happed up and antsy, begging for speedy freak dancing. The first set is heavy on the older material, opening with a rough and tumble Hard to Handle. A pair of pairs- a full blown go-go Till the Morning Comes > Loser and Alligator, sinuous and slinky, Mr. Charlie make it a real keeper. Phil is particularly vibrant on the latter duo, grinding and pumping under, above and around Warren and Jeff.

The second set opens with an abstract, angular jam- unique to my ears- that swells and looms and crashes; a stand alone followed by Shakedown. Those four minutes alone are worth the tracking down of this gig. The rest of the set continues the funky jester vibe established in the first, with Ramble On, Easy Wind and a dense Low Spark and even a Gloria closer. Many of the tunes seem just slightly out of place- they make you take extra notice. Even the encore is a stunning Eyes > Night of A Thousand Stars. Its so easy to overlook an individual post-GD show; itd be a shame if you overlooked this one.

Phish, SPAC, 6/20/04 Set II

This is hands down my favorite set of the final Phish shows. The first set is pretty ugly- a pale, almost translucent shade of the previous nights initial offering- but the show closes with my Holy Grail of Phish: a four song second set. Seven Below (19+ minutes) lifts off immediately and lingers in bright but indistinct cloudiness. A darker, still misty place forms around throaty guitar that grows joyously frantic, Fish riding alongside- its a deep jam. At the end, Page is suddenly prominent on organ and piano, and Mike shines through, fuzzy and full on the intro to Ghost. More so than Seven Below, Ghost is just gorgeous. After about ten minutes, Fish and Mike set and swagger into a solid groove that reveals Twist. The only thing that could be better than the transition is a twenty-one minute version in its wake. The low, squirrelly jam blooms into a bubbling, muscled groove. It then winds down so low it nearly comes to a complete stop, only to rise again to an ornate, organic peak. The set closes with a gut wrenching YEM, a grand finale.

SCI, New York, NY 12/29/04

This SCI gig is a favorite, both as a concert experience and as a recording. It was released not as part of the On The Road series, but as Volume II of Not Your Everyday Incident, and it certainly is that. There are any number of strong songs, including an ideal reading of Round the Wheel, a beautiful Time Goes By to open the second set, and a Chameleon jam smack in the middle of Got What He Wanted. There is also a sublime Galactic > Kashmir > Galactic early in set II, but when the show is addressed as a whole, a throbbing, underpinning groove is revealed. At times, its right in the fore, as during the giant MLT with Peter Apflebaum on sax, or the Howard > Gigawatt > Howard or later in the Valley of the Jig, also starring the sax player. Its so heavy and potent there, but then you start to notice just how pervasive it really is, dictating the whole show. This is definitely Grade A, premium Cheese.

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