"A little bit further than you've gone before..."
Hell of a show, aside from a strange bit of business where, during the set break, some kid right outside our section apparently, according to news accounts:
1) Got into a three-point stance;
2) Yelled, "HIKE!";
3) Ran straight through an inch-thick double-pane glass window and fell about 30 feet down to the sidewalk
The Furthur shows I've been listening to at Archive.org and Livedownloads.com have been good, but now that this group has been together for a year or so, they're really starting to gel. My boy always asks me to guess the first song, and with this tour, I had no clue; the setlists have run through the whole Dead catalog, and branched out in all kinds of crazy cover directions.
Feel Like a Stranger
'Til the Morning Comes
Pride of Cucamonga
Colors of the Rain >
Estimated Prophet >
Eyes of the World >
I Know You Rider
Golden Slumbers >
Carry That Weight >
The End (tease) >
The Wheel >
So Many Roads >
The Other One >
Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) >
Gimme Some Lovin'
E: Brokedown Palace
Earlier in the evening, I was talking about one of the NYC shows, where the band blasted through the entire B side of Abbey Road, so I was singing "Golden Slumbers" at the top of my lungs. The blues break in "Pride of Cucamonga" is also a personal favorite. One of the friends who came to the show said he thought Bobby Weir is definitely leading the band, and that might be true... John Kadlecik is filling the Jerry role admirably, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's still a little humbled at playing alongside the guys he's been playing tribute to in Dark Star Orchestra all these years. Anyway, back to Weir—he may be leading the band, but they've definitely taken some cues from Phil when it comes to the jams and transition between songs. The transitions aren't quite as nimble as Phil & Friends, but the band sounds more like the Grateful Dead than any other post-Garcia incarnation.
Thus the debate rages: Furthur or Phil & Friends? For my money, the main Phil & Friends lineup, from 2000-'03, is the greatest of the post-Garcia groups. They were so versatile, so nimble, and just so ass-kicking. They did the whole Dead catalog, they did southern rock thanks to Haynes and Herring, and then every once in a while, just for kicks, they'd break out into some Miles Davis...
[A quick side note, speaking of Miles... any possible way you get a hold of show recordings from the Allman Bros. March 2011 run at the Beacon Theatre... DO IT. They are EPIC. Derek Trucks is channeling Duane Allman almost as good as Duane Allman did. One of the shows I have opens with a jam that turns into "Spanish Key" off of 'Bitches Brew'...]
...then again, Furthur, as I mentioned, sounds the most like the original Dead. Even the backup singers fit in. When I saw The Dead at Bonnaroo in 2003, the music was good, but the band just didn't gel too well. Joan Osborne just sounded way out of place. But this band has found its stride.
A FEW 'FURTHUR' NOTES:
• The kid who jumped out the window died from his injuries. The tox report is pending — I'm hoping he was just really drunk. It would reflect poorly on responsible faced concertgoers everywhere if he was tripping too hard and freaked out.
• Saw the drummer for theCAUSE outside the main gate.
• A couple song notes: What I presume is a new original, "Colors of the Rain," was pretty great. The only song I liked better in the first set was a hazy, spacey "Althea."
• There are advantages and disadvantages to having only one drummer in a Grateful Dead band. In a group like Dark Star Orchestra or theCAUSE, a lot of the songs and jams take on a '72-'74 feel, when it was just Kreutzmann drumming (with DSO, of course, it depends what year they're playing)... Joe Russo went the opposite route, working overtime all night and pretty much doing the work of two drummers. The result was a heady cross between that early-'70s Dead sound and the harder-swinging rock of Phil & Friends.
• The guitar filter Bobby uses, that sounds kind of annoying on the Furthur recordings, doesn't come across that way all in concert. With that said...
• ...the Petersen looks great, but it doesn't sound all that great. We were on the first level off the floor, to the left of the stage, and there was a fair amount of echo off the back wall. You also can't escape the fact that, at the end of the day, the Pete is a gigantic gym, with metal-girder rafters that don't help the soundman at all. It's like a mini-Gund-Arena, the venue where I once spent two-and-a-half hours listening The Hazy Echo of The Dave Matthews Band. My buddy went onto the floor during the second set, and he said the sound was a little better down there.
• A tough time: The guy from the event staff whose official job was "Stand Outside the Police Tape and Keep 5,423 People From Taking Cell Phone Pictures." That guy was having a rough night:
GUY: "Hey man, can you delete that, please?"
RANDOM HIPPIE #1: "Uh... okay..."
GUY: [Walks over] "Can I maybe watch you delete it?" [walks briskly to Random Hippie #2 and th same conversation ensues... this goes on for about 25 straight minutes until the second set gets going]