Lo Faber with Raisinhead, Revolution Hall, Troy, NY- 7/9
Lo Faber has become an enigmatic figure in the jamband scene. Faber spent the 90's as the leader of God Street Wine, where he staked a claim for being one of the scene's most gifted songwriters. After God Street Wine broke up in late 1999, Faber remained out of public view for over a year. He reemerged with the Lo Faber Band in 2001. Spurning the notion of releasing conventional albums, the band has recorded and released two rock operas, 2001's enjoyable Henry’s House, and 2003’s disjointed Friday Night Freakshow. Further ducking normal trends Faber and company failed to tour after releasing Friday Night Freakshow, so this show at Revolution Hall marked Faber's first time on stage in over nine months, and the first time he has led a full band in almost two years.
Backing Faber this evening was the band Raisinhead, from across the river in Albany. There was clearly a little rust to be shaken off most notably when Faber got the verses of the GSW song "Get on the Train" confused, but for the most part he was up for the task. Faber was enthusiastic to be back on stage, and his trademark clean guitar playing was in fine form. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about his backing band. Several times, Faber attempted to push follow guitarists Rob Beaulieu and Ted Gray to go farther out, each time getting little out of them.
The set drew material from GSW, the two rock operas, as well as some Raisinhead tunes. Highlights from Henry’s House included "Hey Henry" and "Sardines," which featured the evening’s most spirited jam. They wisely selected some of the more accessible tunes from Friday Night Freakshow, including "Everyone's Favorite Rock Star." The band seemed to have trouble with some of the GSW material. Most notably Raisinhead failed to add the vocal parts that were such a staple in both GSW and Lo Faber Band, and neither guitarist had the punch to punctuate Faber's crisp playing. The exception was bassist Tom Pirozzi, who added an aggressive style of play that enhanced the GSW classic "Hellfire." Though somewhat flawed this evening, songs such as "Goodnight Gretchen" and "Driving West," were received warmly from those who remember GSW's heyday. The Raisinhead originals added little to the show. The band, which features two former members of the Ominous Seapods, seem to have similar musical chops as the Seapods, but certainly lack their wit and charm. Their rootsy songs have a been there, done that, feel to them.
It was clear that all involved were enjoying themselves, and that good time vibe made up for some of the musical shortcomings. Despite the layoff and minor mistakes, Faber appeared to be on top of his game, and remains a heck of a showman. Though this setting was not the best arena to display Faber's talent, he did enough to show that a fire still burns within him. While the status of the Lo Faber Band is unclear, hopefully Faber will resist going back into the shadows, and reestablish himself as important voice and a fixture in the jamband landscape.