Psychedelic Breakfast, Forward Hall, Erie, PA- 11/23
It's funny the way things sometimes happen. After reading positive reviews about them time and again in Relix magazine I saw a Psychedelic Breakfast show from 2001 on somebody's tape list while searching Phishhook.com for some trades, so I thought, "what the hell", and asked the guy to make me a copy. After finally getting the disc in the mail I gave it a spin and was quite surprised. I heard wonderful keyboard work and blistering guitar solos that immediately caught my attention and made me yearn to see the band live. Literally that same week I'm talking two days later here the local entertainment newspaper had Psychedelic Breakfast advertised as making a stop in my hometown. Crazy.
The day finally came and I excitedly entered the music club and was met with a scene that left me dismayed. The 500-person venue was filled with a mere 15 people. I was shocked, and then quickly came back to earth when I remembered that this was the same venue The Slip played at a few weeks before they played Bonnaroo. There were about 15 people at that show too. But alas, these things happen. Anyway, I went into the bar and tossed back a few with my girlfriend while we waited eagerly for the first set to begin. I can tell you this much, that bootleg certainly didn't prepare me for what I was about to witness.
If music were alcohol and you took the sounds of the Disco Biscuits, Umphrey's McGee, and Phish, shook them up, and poured them into a glass with an olive you'd have one hell of an intoxicating martini called Psychedelic Breakfast. These guys are supremely technical players whose jams tend to reach a digital realm while sounding at points like an engine cranking on all eight cylinders. Their compositions are highly structured with intelligent lyrics and chord progressions that are highlighted with slippery guitar runs that poke their head out of a metaphorical swamp of groove. You could tell right away that these guys had been playing together for a while and were the real deal. The most impressive aspect is how each tune can serve as a springboard into an extended improvisation or as a bridge into another tune at any time despite the fact that it had never been rehearsed. The band launched into a smoking rendition of their original "Beef Barley" and right off the band the lucky few of us were treated to some wailing guitar pyrotechnics by Tim Palmieri as his runs cut straight through the dark and brooding digital grumbles that keyboard player Jordan Giangreco was laying down on his Univox.
Throughout the first set Palmieri wrestled notes out of his Gibson SG while the band worked its way through extended compositions such as "What The Funk" and wonderfully catchy pop-esque tunes like "Sundance." To close the set the band said they were going to treat us to an "acoustic interlude" which was something they've been doing this tour. With Palmieri and drummer Adrian Tramontano on acoustic guitars, bassist Ron Spears putting down his Modulus five-string and picking up an acoustic four string, and Giangreco on bongo and melodica, a.k.a. "harmonica", PB delivered enchanting acoustic versions of their tunes "Vera Street" and "Language Of The Gods." Each song featured wonderful vocal harmonies and Tramontano showing off some impressive licks as he and Palmieri traded solos. The band stuck with the acoustic set-up for their set closing cover of the Grateful Dead's "U.S. Blues." All in all, a pleasing interlude, however I had enjoyed watching the band tear it up and awaited set two.
When the band returned Palmieri switched from the SG to a Fender Telecaster so he could get that "primal sound" as he put it. I'm not sure if he attained it to his satisfaction but the band sure delivered some primal funk. The pocket was deep as the band jived its way through "Taboo or Not Taboot," an original tune that got some people on the dance floor. The highlight of the night then began as the band started out with their semi-funkysingalongheadbopper "The Vermont Song," my favorite tune of the night. As this song began to come to a close, the band found a way to keep it going by meandering into an extended space jam that featured various digital textures that at points sounded almost like riding through Pittsburgh's Liberty Tunnel with the car windows rolled down. The jam finally settled down and wound its way into "Cosmic Spaceway Rhyme." The band closed their show with a version of Born To Be Wild that almost sounded as if Black Sabbath was on stage and Gene Simmons was their guest vocalist (with Palmieri wailing away and laying some licks with his guitar behind his head Hendrix-style).
In the end I got $18.50's worth of music for one portrait of Abe Lincoln. I was one of few lucky Erie music fans who got to witness a performance by a quartet of young musicians who posses intense musical ability, an amazing knack for improvisational musical interplay, and could very well be the next big buzz in the jamband scene.