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Published: 2002/02/02
by Dan Alford

Steve Kimock Band, Bowery Ballroom, NYC- 2/1

Set I: Sea Blues, Bad Hair, Elmer’s Friggin’ Fudd,
Sabertooth, Hillbillies on PCP
Set II: Cole’s Law, Tangled Hangers, Why Can’t We All
Just Samba, Moon People, Arf, She Cried, 5B4 Funk

It seems like Steve Kimock is everywhere lately. Not
only is he the focus of my regular department here at, Tape Cases, he is also featured in a
detailed interview on the front page. Beyond that,
Steve Kimock Band performed for Jam Nation last week,
with an interview to be broadcast next week, and the
man himself has even penned an article for the new
issue of Relix magazine. That, of course, is not to
mention a major nation-wide tour, currently in
progress, that has SKB working down the East Coast and
heading out west, stopping for a double bill with
Derek Trucks Band last weekend, a show with support
from The Slip this week and three dates opening for
Gov’t Mule. This band is on the move and taking the
country by storm with its powerful instrumental
compositions, enthralling performances and
ever-evolving musical vocabulary.

The first of two shows at the Bowery packed the venue
with music lovers, including a large number of
out-of-towners- such is the appeal of Kimock. The
band took the stage a little after ten, and Steve took
a second to hold his finger to his lips, calling for
quiet. While the crowd maintained pockets of chatter
for most of the show, it was quieter than most shows
in the City. And by the end of Tangled Hangers the
crowd had thinned enough that it was actually
comprised of serious listeners, allowing the band to
play with its full dynamic range. Certainly the
slightly older crowd could take a cue from the Phish
camp and self-police with an old fashioned “SHHHHH!”
That is definitely preferable to inane banter, and as
Mr. Kimock has mentioned how much crowd noise affects
a show, it’s an action that’s time has come.

Sea Blues began the show, a swiggin’ rock n roll tune
with nice energy. Steve and Mitch Stein both took
extended solos early on, but bassist Alphonso Johnson
seemed to really enjoy the brief rockabilly
interludes. The end section had the guitarists
working out a rhythmic structure. After a few bars,
Rodney Holmes joined, with Alphonso finally dropping
in and pulling it all together- a fine opener.

The welcome strains of Bad Hair followed. A brighter
tune, it’s one that exemplifies Kimock’s punchy sound,
and leaves a wide passage through the middle, just
right for exploration. Tonight, it had Steve
stretching out over Mitch’s arid rhythm work, like a
drive into desert places. The movement evaporated
into a clear, starry sky, and before long the band and
listeners were adrift in the atmosphere. Little by
little, Rodney added fills that pulled the music back
and eventually stirred up a whirlwind that overtook
the whole band and brought about the close of the

Elmer’s was a perfectly placed follower. The music
was focused and direct, constantly moving forward.
Steve’s playing was sharp but balanced as the currents
eased, lights on riverside fog road. As the pace
increased, Mitch sounded in with a speedy rhythm
groove that had Steve shooting sparks across the bow.
It was Rodney, however, who pushed the piece past its
limits. His crashes, rumbles and concussive bursts
were displayed with such fervor that I had to grab my
head to keep it from exploding.

SKB’s foray into electronica has been dubbed
Sabertooth, although it still lacks a real bite.
Certainly it has come a long way from its 2001 fall
tour debut at the Bowery, but it still lacks a
tangible target. Hopefully Rodney will begin to
manipulate the loop track, phase it out and bring
back, or add other sections. Consider what Scofield’s
band has been able to do with sampling; it just took a
little time. Conversely, the following Hillbillies on
PCP was deliberate and greeted with big cheers from
the audience. Oscillating between a down-home boogie
and a West Indian shuffle, it had the floor quite
literally shaking. Long and energetic, it climaxed
with Steve and Mitch trading chords before spilling
into a final Caribbean stroll and closing the set.

After a relatively short break, the band regrouped for
a second set, beginning with the classic coupling of
Cole’s Law and Tangled Hangers. The former was
wonderfully constructed, delicate at the outset and
building slowly in intensity. At the third passage,
the music began to sparkle with new crispness.
Alphonso’s heavy bottom percolated to the surface as
Steve toyed directly with the theme. The two
coalesced and the music took off, flooding the room
with K-waves. The following Tangled Hangers was
played independently, rather than as part of a jam.
Rodney began noodling on his kit, while Alphonso
pulled out the upright bass and bow and Mitch bent
notes and shook his guitar. The familiar theme graced
the room, but was quickly left behind as Steve led the
group on an interstellar journey at warp speed.
Swirling in a tight cone, incredible distances were
covered before the movement eased and settled into
orbit. The theme resurfaced briefly and Mitch set out
on fantastically romantic segment. Dramatic Eastern
sounds painted the portrait of a moonlit ride on
Arabians. Throughout the show Mitch stepped up to
take a few extended solos and the lead on a few jams,
showing off his versatility as a guitarist.

While many in attendance thrilled to the Samba, with
its intense intro and bad ass start/stop segment from
Rodney and Alphonso, I was more intrigued by Moon
People. Twisting through the intro and the first bed
of Love Metal chords, the band produced the sound
track for a lunar city with screechy digital sounds
and crazed jabbering. The power chords returned,
ripping the audience from the city and depositing it
in strange lunar landscape. The feedback was wild,
Mitch on the ground grinding out notes and Steve
taking off his guitar and waving it in front of his
monitors. The chords again tore the audience away,
this time leaving it in the able hands of Alphonso and
Mitch. The duo played with a quiet theme that
eventually brought the band back to earth to close the

The show ended as it began, with a very rock n roll
feel. Arf, She Cried featured a long, heavily
whammied solo from Mitch, who penned the tune, as part
of its giddy bop. 5B4 Funk was in much the same vein,
grooving along and causing the band members to joke
around on stage. All in all, it was a solid show, the
second set being more cohesive and consistent than the
first. But with a second night of exploration just a
few hours away, chances are the best is yet to come.

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