Licorice, Lions Den, NYC- 6/28
Young bands on the jamband circuit sure have it rough. Way back at the end of 2004, David Steinberg wrote an excellent article titled “How the Internet Destroys Jambands”. In the article, David cites Phish and talks about how the band spent many years under the radar, taking as much as nine years before playing the west coast. This allowed them the time necessary to become a professional band by working on their weak spots. One can accurately assume this model paved the way for many if not all of the jambands that followed in their wake.
But the point is that the internet has accelerated this process. You can now hear bands the day after their show, which may or may not have been one of the band’s first 25 shows (an arbitrary number but one which underscores the point that a band at that age shouldn’t be critiqued with any seriousness whatsoever). In the case of Licorice, the band has been around a whole lot less than nine years, but beginning on July 27th, you can see them in Colorado until August 3rd. As a listener, the challenge is to listen to an unseasoned band with seasoned ears. It is, to say the least, not always easy.
Prior to the west coast swing, Licorice pulled in to The Lion’s Den here in NYC on Thursday June 28th. Scheduled for an 8:00 start, the band took the stage around 8:15 to a sparse, but steadily increasing crowd of family, friends and fans. Licorice, like many of the very young jambands these days, is an interesting study (at least to me) in the live setting. On the one hand, they are a talented group of musicians whose raw, evolving sound will surely fill out as time progresses and the band becomes more familiar with how to fill air. The opener, “Name,” is a prime example. Once the listener moves past the initial and obvious “Bathtub Gin” associations, the foundation of an interesting jam is present and with Josh Bloom’s light and bouncy drumming holding down the bottom, the band made several attempts at building up a jam. Ultimately they were unable to reach a compelling climax, but for the first song of the night, it was a nice attempt.
Of course, one can chalk this up to the song simply being the band’s de facto soundcheck, as the subsequent two songs, “Freeze” and “All Kings Fall,” had moments of solid musicianship as well as moments of genuine interplay among Chad Dinzes on keys and Dave Lott on guitar. It was these moments that elicited the greatest response from the crowd, the biggest smiles from the band, and brought those milling about by the bar closer to the stage, myself included.
On the other hand, the band, like virtually any band at this stage, didn’t always click on all cylinders. Over the course of the 50 minute set, the band alternated between these two incarnations, one moment ripping through a jam, such as the one in “A Million Grains of Sand” and the next.just not. But this is to be expected and, more importantly, to be embraced. As the band continues to form their own identity, moving beyond the aforementioned Phish references (which were present in a few songs), they can surely stake out their claim as a legitimate band in their own right.
The ending section, highlighted by the show closing version of “Say It,” cements one’s decision to attend a Licorice concert as the right decision. And once the band emerges from its upcoming recording session, the band will have tighter songs and a tighter focus, both of which are instrumental in the band’s development.
And develop this band certainly will.