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Published: 2001/10/22
by Dan Alford

SKB- Bowery Ballroom, NYC 10/20

Set I: Samba, Better Get Hit in Your Soul, Techno Jam
> Freeze Frame, Moon People, Avalon
Set II: Cole's Law > Tangled Hangers, 5 B4 Funk,
Rudson's Roaches, Long Form

I'd been waiting for this show for a long time. On
previous visits to the Big Apple, Kimock has always
settled into the comfortable environs of The Wetlands,
and indeed that was the original plan for this show.
That September 13th gig was obviously cancelled, and
that in turn allowed the SKB to book the next logical
step in venues: The Bowery Ballroom. Simply put, it
is the best room in NYC; great sound, high ceiling,
stylish ambience and easy exiting, this place has it
all. I've long thought it was a venue made for the
SKB, or any of the earlier bands, and was thrilled
when the show was booked. The Wetlands was great, but
when it was sold out, it was very sold out, leaving no
room to boogie. And Kimock always played sold out

Beyond the choice of venue, I was excited simply to
see an entire SKB show. Having skipped The Wetlands
in June in favor of the Vibes, I was sorely
disappointed when Kimock's festival set was rained
out- particularly in light of the amazing 5B4 Funk
with Derek Trucks at the Jammys two nights earlier.
Then the Friday evening set at Berkfest was cut short
by a thunderstorm that bore down on the valley during
a blistering Why Can't We All Just Samba. The late
night show was also cut short, the second set being
comprised of only It's Up to You. It's been a
struggle to see a full show this year, but when the
opportunity finally came around, the payoff was
entirely satisfying.

Steve went right to the steel when the band took the
stage at 10:45, beginning to noodle while Mitch Stein
dragged out notes, shaking his guitar. The spacey
endeavor ambled along before slipping into Samba.
Mitch took the first solo, working speedy lines.
Steve began his solo with a series of short, focused
statements before plunging headlong into a vicious
torrent. He was flying, rocking back and forth on one
leg, grinning widely. The audience gave its approval
and we were off.

Better Get Hit in Your Soul was up next. The first
jam featured some nice rhythm counterpoint from Mitch
as Steve dipped and swerved, but the real focus was on
the exceptional drumming of Rodney Holmes. His clean,
utterly concussive playing is beyond description. On
a disc, it sounds amazing, but live, each shot pounds
into your chest cavity. It's nothing short of
breathtaking. I would love to hear some concert
recordings of his work with Wayne Shorter.

The following jam began with Rodney setting up a synth
loop on a small keyboard. The music that followed was
awkward- clearly the band is just beginning to
experiment with some electronica. It seemed as if no
one knew what to do with it. At points, the jams
should have dropped down to justa funky rhythm guitar
(think Joe Farrell of Percy Hill) but that style isn't
exactly in Kimock's vocabulary, and Mitch didn't go
for it either. This was certainly the low point of
the show, but maybe good things will come of it.
Consider the amazing development of Avi Bortnick's
sampler/loop skills in the John Scofield Band; they
were equally weak at the beginning.

The short, chord powered Freeze Frame preceded a wild
Moon People that produced some of the heaviest playing
I've heard from the SKB. At one point Steve took the
strap off his guitar and waved it by the neck in front
of his three monitors. The feedback was harsh and
grating, and he looked surprised at the noise being
produced. Putting the strap back on, he knelt down
near the monitors, still tapping into the distortion,
as headed back into the jam. This song looked at some
deeply recessed and heavily layered shadows. Closing
the set was a newer tune, Avalon. This bright,
high-energy gallop featured some of the best upside
down anti-gravity guitar of the set. Running through
a series of glens and dales, and cresting high ridges,
it was an excellent way to close the set.

A wonderful version of the now classic jam Cole's Law
> Tangled Hangers began the second set. At times
delicate, at times desperate, the first tune was
emotionally pregnant. The energy stirred up painted
the stage with a different sheen. Richard Hammond
nailed down the bass line, his eyes locked on Steve.
It was his first show and he put his best foot
forward. His style is a bit more fluid that either
Alphonso Johnson or James Genus, both having sat in
since Bobby Vega left the band. In fact, Hammond's
style is similar, through coincidence or design, to
Bobby's. He flexed notes by skidding down the frets
and hit the deep notes from underneath, and as such,
gelled well with the rest of the band. He was visibly
nervous throughout the night.

A nice broad space gave some drifting room before the
musical settled into Tangled Hangers. Missing no
opportunity to blaze, Steve went straight for the
golden ring, then fell back to directing the band.
Big jungle drums led into a weird, angular space.
Again, the sounds drifted far away, creating a unique
moment in my knowledge of the song. The Arabian
return to the theme pulled us all back to reality.

Like the opening couplet, 5B4 Funk was an exceptional
version of a standard piece. In mid-song Mitch tore
up a rhythm solo, gunning over a funky idea, while
Steve crept up with horn sounds. The synthesis was
super bad. At the end, Rodney played lead with a
series of outstanding drum fills. Another newer tune,
Rudson's Roaches featured an aggressive solo from
Mitch right at the outset, and a much more meandering
groove from Steve. There was also another foray into
the cosmos before the end. The perforations of space
gave the whole show a dreamy quality, although it was
actually a tight performance. Closing out the show
was a section of Long Form, perhaps just part I.
Similar to Cole's Law in that it swells and ebbs,
becoming more bloated with each revolution, it was a
good summation of night. At times it eased along, at
times it rocked, at times it floated, but it
constantly offered interesting sounds and textures.

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