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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2001/10/06
by Michael Even

Two Nights With Ekoostik Hookah, 9/28 and 9/29/01

9/28- Toledo Seagate Center, Toledo, OH

The last couple of days the weather has been blah, but tonight it has cleared up. This looks like a perfect evening to be spending with Ekoostik Hookah. However, this is not a perfect venue. The security and staff are not the greatest. Plus, I feel that the sound is just terrible. There is just way too much echoing off the concert walls.

The crowd is kind of small, which is usually the case in the fall/winter time. What a loss for a ton of people, because Hookah starts right off in fine form. A strong “From Under Full Sail” yields to “Lady Vanilla,” a very playful tune with guitarist Steve Sweney laying it done, right off the bat. “Find Out” also features some nice moments as bassist Cliff Starbuck offers up a badass bass solo, followed by a screaming solo from Steve, and then just as the band’s collective jamming starts to get to dark, they bust back into the song. This was nice and tight.

Another highlight occurs later in the set when keyboardist Dave Katz picks up an acoustic and starts plucking “Indica & Sativa.” He likely is inspired by the security which is so tight Dave feels he gotta rub a little something up their noses. As this song drifted on, my buddy and I were a little weary that they were going to segue into “Ice-cream Baby,” which we are not partial to, but instead Ed busted out “Bottle of Wine,” which segued right back into “Indica & Sativa.” “Some Where Down The Line” closed the set- a rocking bluegrass tune with a number of change ups. The boys really get the feet moving. Starbuck also belts out a good, soulful yodel.

The second set offered some solid moments and a curious encore. “Dragonfly” is a newer song written by Ed McGee, one of his best from a lyrical standpoint and it really give Sweney a chance to blow up on his Gibson. After this, Dave jumps onto the acoustic again and starts to lay down “Ohio Grown.” Now being from Michigan I not to partial to this one. Our sports teams have always been rivals although it is one of Dave’s best rock tunes. He starts on acoustic, then moves onto the piano, and then back to the acoustic. My buddy Derek and I like to think of it as Michigan Grown. Then Dave stays up on the acoustic and the band moves into “Ecstasy.” This was somewhat listless at first but moved into a huge collective jam at the end. Another notable song was their cover of Deep Purple’s “Hush” which closed the set. Dave’s solo on the organ and Ed huge guitar solo which followed really left their mark. It was an excellent way to close out the set. The boys come back out and cover “Wild Thing” putting their own odd spin on it, caning the melody and tempo a bit. An odd and to a solid show.

9/29- Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

It’s a chilly Saturday night in downtown Columbus, OH. Ekoostik Hookah is back home, and tonight should make for one hell of a show. The line already a block and half long for tickets, I am glad I bought my ticket already. Last time I was here security was great, but look out tonight, boy. Nothing but ass & elbows. They shaking people down hard at the door. As I’m walking in the band Blue Level is finishing up, and Supplication is up next. Supplication is Steve Sweney and Cliff Starbuck’s old band. They have not played together in nine years. They played about an hour. Covered some Dead, Allman Brothers, and Joe Cocker- good stuff.

A little after ten the boys hit the stage, and it was time to go. The place was packed pretty tight. There was this stillness, then boom. The first two songs “Dragonfly” and “Good Time(Marry-Go-Round),” they had played the night before but most in attendance didn’t seem to mind- the place shook from all the jumping and screaming when Dave hit those keys. I’ll admit, was kind of bummed to hear this again, but the crowd loved it.

It may come as no surprise that my favorite moments from the first set came during those tunes I had not heard the previous night. “My Own Way” features some passionate vocals from Dave with the band’s great rock/blues sound backing him up. Later “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” stands out- Cliff’s vocals in particular pull it off. After the hoedown, Ed twists it up a bit and has the boys throw down a little “Moonstone.” This is a dark tune with some great lyrics and a Pink Floyd/Alice Cooper feel to it. The drums and percussion also sound great in the middle jam. The set later concluded with the rare “Red Light Boogie” keeps folks moving and then flows right into “The Streetbeater.” Only Ekoostik Hookah would think to cover the theme song from Sanford and Son. While it is not a funky as it usually is, Ed and Steve rock the song to kingdom come. They wrap it up and call it a set.

The second set may have been my favorite of the four as the band embarks on a long journey- “Loner> Here Today>Keepin' Time> Gone Tomorrow-> Loner” each of these songs proves explosive and powerful and by the time the band carried back into “Loner” the crowd jumped back in singing the lyrics as well. “Keepin’ Time” really stood out during this long segment with Sweney and the band firing on every cylinder.

After giving out a bunch of birthday wishes Hookah starts plucking “Caribou.” Eric Lanese does a fine job here and does not let the drums fall out when he sings. Percussionist Johnny Polansky and Eric play off of each other very well here. After the song Ed recites some lyrics from “Float,” apparently not thinking that they were going to play it butthey did. When it comes time for the first jam, Cliff starts moving them into the theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey and then back into “Float.” Dave slows it down, way down with “Walk Real Slow,” moving into this slow piano tapping. A perfect time to stop and take it all in. The set then closes with a fine version of the band’s epic “Slip Jig Through The Poppy Fields.”

The band returned with Dave picking up the acoustic for one last time for “We’re Not Going To Take It” by The Who, which also means the band will segue into “Go To The Mirrors(verse 6).” The six members of Hookah have huge smiles on their faces as Ed is belting out the lyrics. They close it down, and send us on into the night.

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