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Oysterhead, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI – 11/4

I guess some ideas are better left alone. Gathering three superstars into
one "super" group can limit room for growth, or any chances of creating
something new. Granted, I was tickled pink when I heard the announcement of
Oysterhead, and frothed at the mouth for a chance to see them live. Phish and
Primus, are two of my favorite groups, and adding Stewart Copeland into the
mix is just icing on the cake. But somewhere along the way, they got lost. At
least on a stage anyway.

Oysterhead ambled into Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium Sunday night, for an
evening of disjointed, aimless opuses called "songs." The mere excitement of
seeing Trey Anastasio alone, was enough reason for me to go. Same goes for
the mostly "phish head" audience on hand to see their greatly missed hero
of jam rock. It was apparent from the beginning
gaining momentum was going to be tough. "Shadow of a Man"
for instance, verges on the absurd, with references
to a war that is no longer relevant any more. Les, donning a
helmet with lights on the side, pulled out the same bag of tricks used during
Primus and Frog Brigade shows. Trey never really got a chance to go off into
his own territory with the exception of "Radon Balloon" when Trey sat down on the
acoustic guitar as Les joined in soon after on
the banjo/bass guitar. "Used to be the Owner of the World," didn’t really
give Trey a moment either as Les’s bass, and Stewart’s persistence on
dominating everything, kept him buried in a sea of quiet reverb. I’m not
saying the whole night should have belonged to Trey, I just wanted to hear at
least one mind bending Trey solo.

Not to mention Les and Trey’s vocals compliment each other like ketchup on ice cream, making for some cringing moments. Not everything was bad however, "Mr. Oysterhead" provided the night’s best song, and the cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Immigrant Song" was a nice touch. It’s apparent what altar of rock gods they worship at. Well, Les and Trey anyway. The songs just never really blossomed, and each member took too many opportunities to solo when we already know they have the "chops." Some songs just sounded like a Primus song, which goes to show that you can take the man out of Primus, but you can’t take the Primus out of the man. But sounding like Phish or Primus, is not what the members of Oysterhead are trying to achieve. I’m not quite sure what they are trying to sound like.

Maybe going back to the drawing board is a good idea. Or at least,
learn how to structure a song when they can agree to what one should sound
like. Many left with puzzled faces, and shrugged when asked what they thought
of the show. A good idea indeed, just not as good as we anticipated.

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