Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Slip: Live At The Bowery Ballroom (2009-06-26)

The Slip are making up for lost time. Two years off the road as The Slip has done the boys well. As hard as it is for fans to have a band take time off, it keeps the artists sane and it keeps the material fresh. While The Slip were still drawing pretty heavily from 2006s "Eisenhower", they also managed to mix in enough old gems, as well as new tunes to keep the setlist interesting and subsequently, the audience engaged. Opening the show with a spacey jam that teased a bit of the old, Cumulus and The Landing, it segued into a new tune which featured bassist Marc Freidman on an old hollow-body electric guitar. The tune (tentatively titled D'Gary) is a dark rocker with a nice finger-picked lead by Brad Barr. Next up came a new-school favourite, "Even Rats" which was pretty standard aside from Brad teasing "Sorry" in the solo section. The raging funk of "Get Me With Fuji" displayed The Slip's jammy side and got the crowd dancing. Like always, it was a showcase for the breakbeat drumming of Andrew Barr who was simply putting on a clinic all night. Another new tune came next, the bluesy-rocker called "Motherwolf". Brad was reaching for the grizzly falsetto and surprisingly enough, reached it most of the time.
This is a tune that is sure to sound great on record and occasionally live. A reworked version of "Dear Melina" came next and this time we had Freidman playing the lead lines on electric guitar with some nice slide work throughout the song. The boys saluted Michael Jackson during the ending of "Paper Birds" with some nice "Man in the Mirror" teases that had the crowd singing aloud. A big surprise came when long-time collaborator Marco Benevento showed up during the solo section of "If One Of Us Should Fall" to add some pretty, get this, accordion work to the ballad. The Slip left the stage briefly, but the crowd was cheering way to loud for the show to be over. They came back out and hit us with the re-worked version of "The Weight of Solomon" with Brad belting the lyrics out, knowing it was a sing-a-long favourite. "Children of December" came next, with Brad singing it in the high register, rather than the monotone manner that was showcased in 2006 and 2007. Proving he was a rockstar, Brad signalled for a crowd surf and the fans happily obliged. The final tune of the night was a new one people are calling "England". It features a nice acoustic loop and some singing from Andrew as well as Brad. It's a pretty song and one that is sure to sound good in the studio. At one point during the show, Brad alluded to the fact that this is not a comeback tour. The Slip never broke up. After last night's show I truthfully believe him. The Bowery was packed and the crowd was loving it. The Slip will continue to rage on in the future, but we may just have to accept them in small, powerful doses.

Intro (with Cumulus and/or The Landing teases) >
Even Rats (with Sorry teases)
Get Me With Fuji
Dear Melina
Paper Birds (with Man In The Mirror teases)
Suffocation Keep
That Love Ain't Enough
The Soft Machine
If One Of Us Should Fall (with Marco Benevento on acordian)
Weight Of Solomon
Children Of December

Here's a video of The Slip playing "Dear Melina"

The Slip - Dear Melina (Live At The Bowery Ballroom Friday June 26, 2009) from lucas samuels on Vimeo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Phish Tells Us To Save The Date

Phish just announced via their website to "Save The Date" for a 3 day festival from October 30-November 1. The exact location of the festival is unknown but it appears it will be in either Oklahoma, West Virgina or Idaho. Stay tuned for more details on this huge announcement!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, Dead At Age 50

After being discovered unconscious in his house in L.A. this afternoon and suffering from cardiac arrest, Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital. He fell into a coma in the hospital, and died soon there after. The music world, as well as the rest of the world has suffered a tragic loss today.
Jackson was a legend and an amazing performer. He revolutionized the world of popular music with countless hits. He will be missed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clearwater Festival 2009

Yesterday marked an important day in my concert-going career. I attended my first festival, Pete Seeger's Clearwater Festival just 45minutes outside of New York City. Although the festival was geared towards an older crowd, it did have a pretty stellar lineup. Artists worth noting were the now 90 years old Pete Seeger (of course), the man who opened Woodstock 1969, one Richie Havens, Susan Tedeschi (wife of guitar prodigy Derek Trucks), Tao Seeger, Old Crow Medecine Show and one of my new favourite bands, Dr. Dog. I was at the festival to work, as Relix had a booth set up for the purpose of selling subscriptions. I did get to drop in on Seeger briefly, he played with the kids from room 12, an assortment of children no older then 9 years old. The man really sparks to life when he is on stage and is simply a musical institution. After meeting and greeting Richie Havens (he was signing autographs and taking pictures at a booth directly across from Relix) I was able to pop in on his short set and catch a powerful rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". Mr. Havens stuck closely to the original version but with the addition of a lead acoustic guitarist accompanying him. I also managed to drop by Old Crow Medecine Show's set and catch some of their highly upbeat bluegrass and country music. People were really diggin Old Crow, taking advantage of an excuse to hoe-dance and get down in the mud. Tao Seeger had Jason Crosby sitting in with him and played a nice mix of bluegrass and rock and roll, nothing I recognized but good fun music none the less. As the evening started to settle in and the rain began to fall more heavily, everyone in the Relix booth was eagerly awaiting Dr. Dog's set. They drew a small but devoted crowd of attentive fans to their performance. The band played a nice mix of old and new, dropping some of my personal favourites from 2008's "Fate" including "100 Years", "The Breeze" and "Hang On". They also played some older gems that I can't quite recall the names of. Dr. Dog's beautiful mix of catchy hard rocking pop tunes and rich harmonies sounded amazing even with the increasingly heavy rainfall. No matter, people danced and embraced the mud. Towards the end of the show the band asked if the barrier in the crowd was set up in order to keep us safe or them safe, and then invited all of us fans to come right up to the stage for the final 3 songs. We all wasted no time and rushed right up to the front to rock out to the final tunes of this amazingly talented up-and-coming band. As the set came to a halt we headed back to the Relix tent to unpack. On the whole it was a successful and fun day. I got my first taste of what a festival is like, even if it was a pretty tame one. With so much good music, great food and overall good vibes, one would have to go out of their way not to have a good time at a festival, even if you were technically "on the job".
Here's a video of Dr. Dog playing "The Breeze"

I was also surprised to find that popular music blog Brooklyn Vegan had used my writeup on their website, check it out, there's also a ton of additional photos. []

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marco Benevento @ The Stone

Although I've seen Marco play a few times now, tonight was the first night seeing it through the lens of a camera (display screen actually). It was my second night of duty assisting the talented Karina Mackenzie (founder of The Stone is a very intimate venue, seating no more than about 40 people. I stood against the back wall and had a superb side angle view of Marco doing his thing. He played a nice mix of "Invisible Baby" and "Me Not Me" tunes including "Atari", "Golden", "Call Home", "Seems So Long Ago Nancy" and more that I can't recall. I apologize as my memory for setlists is usually much better, but I was focusing on keeping the camera steady and getting the right shots. It's amazing how well Marco's material works as solo pieces. Granted, he does use lots of looping and drumtracks, but their authentic enough to not make the music sound cheesy. I did miss the fantastic drumming of one Andrew Barr on a few choise tunes, most notably "Golden". As a surprise Marco did run through a rare cover version of The Shins "Kissing The Lipless" and he encored with a fan requested Ween song (not sure of the title). My favourite track of the night had to be a beautifully re-worked version of The Duo sing-a-long "Play, Pause, Stop". From where I was standing I could clearly hear Marco humming the "woahhhh ohhhh ohhhhh ohhhhhhh" part which was awesome. All in all the set was just around an hour, but it was powerful and like always, expertly played. Hopefully the video footage will make its way on to Shine A Light's website sometime soon.
Here is an awesome rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Seems So Long Ago Nancy" played with a psychedelic groove that only Mr. Benevento can deliver. Check out and hit the Live Music Shoots section for select cuts from The Stone

Jets Overhead & The Rope-A-Dope Boys

Last night I went on my first assignment for Shine A Light Productions. Karina and I shot a few numbers for her Canadian friends Jets Overhead. While I knew nothing about the band going into the show, I learned enough coming out. This 5 piece band from Victoria, B.C. writes catchy rock numbers and sound like a cross between Zero 7 and My Bloody Valentine. The lead singers are a married couple and they are accompanied by a rhythm guitarist, bass and drums. Jets Overhead are also playing Bonnaroo on Friday. I expect big things from them in the future.

Here's a video of Jets Overhead playing their hit "Weathervanes"

After the show we headed over to Sullivan Hall to see the Rope-A-Dope crew. For those of you who don't know it is made up of John Medeski, Billy Martin, Joe Russo, Charlie Hunter and several others. I'm unsure of whether or not they played actual songs or just jammed for 2 hours. Either way the crew in all its different formations was rocking and tight. Russo was epic on the drums and Hunter threw down some fat blues lines while keeping things nimble with some lighting fast jazz licks. Medeski was his normal self on the keys, a complete animal making things as funky or as dark as the moment called for. The show also saw several guest performers including the Rope-A-Dope record label owner and a rocking bass player.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Phish - June 2, Nikon @ Jones Beach Theater

The anticipation before your first Phish show is almost impossible to verbalize. It can only be rightfully compared to the anticipation felt before your first lay. The whole time you’re thinking, I know it’s going to be good, it has to be good, but how good is it really going to be? Well I can safely say that my first Phish show exceeded all my expectations. Phish cradled me with their music, they took complete care of me. Although they never spoke the words, the music itself said “don’t worry, I’ll show you the way, just sit back and enjoy the ride”, and enjoy the ride I did. From the smiles on the faces surrounding me I could tell that everyone else was enjoying the ride too, whether it was their first show or their 50th show. “Runaway Jim” was chosen as the high octane opener and featured some very cohesive jamming from the boys and some super loud singing from the fans. It was followed by “Foam”, for a double-whammy opener akin to early ‘90s era Phish. Next up came the first new song of the night, “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” an upbeat rocker that really let Trey’s soloing shine. Timber (Jerry the Mule) was an unexpected but extremely welcomed number that really got the fans moving. The rare tune helped restore faith in the phans that Phish is not afraid to best out some of the oldies, and play them well to boot. The boys kept us rocking with a perfectly played “Reba” complete with a spacey jam and the ending whistling section from Trey and Mike. They kept the ball rolling with a standard bluesy “Possum” and capped off set 1 with a beautifully jammed “If I Could”, a song that hasn’t been played since 2000.

After what seemed like an eternity, the boys took the stage once more, but not before that feeling of uneasy anticipation arrived again. Before I could even try and guess what song they were about to play they jumped off into “Mike’s Song” foreshadowing the monster that would be set 2. It was a classic version with some great fills and licks by Trey, and some powerful singing by Mike himself. They segued beautifully into “Simple”, which had everyone in the crowd singing at the top of their lungs and bouncing around like crazy. The jam was beautiful as always, tight, but not restrained, just delicately played with no single member at the forefront. “Simple” then segued into a funky “Wolfman’s Brother”, a staple of set 2 which everybody loves. Just as the groove was getting settled, Fishman took the reigns and kicked into the “Weekapaug Groove” drumline, leaving Trey dumbfounded, but happy to help transition the jam into the fast-paced tune. We got some funky playing from a slap-happy Mike, and next thing you knew, we were all sharing in the groove.
The boys slowed things down with a beautifully played “When the Circus Comes to Town” which was a nice showcase for some mid-tempo Trey soloing which was completely on point. Next up was another high-octane new song titled “Kill Devil Falls”. The lyrics seemed a little goofy to me and the jam was too reminiscent too the “Birds of a Feather” jam, but I’m sure it will grow and become more unique as the boys settle into it a few more times. We got some seriously ethereal and avant-garde jamming in “Harry Hood”, which was followed by a set ending cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup”, one of my personal favourite songs. The boys left stage leaving us with a serious longing for an encore. The four walked back on stage and jumped into “Suzy Greenberg”, a raging sing-a-long that left us all surprised and happy. As I walked out of the Theatre I finally realized what I had been missing in my concert-going life. A taste of Phish is like musical-crack, it leaves you wanting more, and thankfully for this summer tour, everyone will be able to score.

Phish :: 06.02.09 :: Jones Beach Theater :: Long Island, NY
Set I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan (1), Timber (Jerry the Mule), Cities, Driver, Reba, Possum, Farmhouse, If I Could(2)
Set II: Mike's Song > Simple > Wolfman's Brother > Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes to Town, Kill Devil Falls(1), Harry Hood, Loving Cup
Encore: Suzy Greenberg
Notes: 1 - First Time Played
2 - Last Played 6/28/2000 (101 Shows)

(all photos taken from

Wednesday Is....No Service Fees Day!

Today Live Nation announced that all tickets purchased will be purchased sans service charges. That's right, it seems Live Nation is giving something back on this very special day, maybe because they charge us up the ass 364 days a year? Either way, by your tickets today while they're still arguably...pretty expensive.