, attached to 2009-11-21

Review by kevinAreHollo

kevinAreHollo Had previously made a mental promise to review my shows in the order attended, but will now reconsider a teeter-totter approach from last to first, first to last.

So from my first to my last...

I was Woody Allen over going to the show, but it being a hometown gig and SO many friends asking my whereabouts, I ultimately felt driven. After so much hemming and hawing, it was all moot! They band delivered on several fronts and even with a snoozer of a second set (save for the RnR and Also Sprach), there was much to rejoice about.

A solid opening to get the feet wet, and lent an old-school (does that phrase even count anymore?) vibe to things from the start. The trio was short and to the point, with focus and semi-precision; things are tighter now than during the summer. Strange Design was very moving, and by Ginseng I was certain that the band (read: Trey) was once again approaching that loose-tight mode of playing that most jazz players talk about as the grail of performance. Ginseng was near perfect (miscue coming back in) with Trey shining on the nimble flatpicked parts. Not sure why, but the bluegrass tune made me smile wider than any other song of the night :)

Split Open and Melt. Readers will note the song's importance for me, and I was pins and needles to see where it would go. It did go WAY OUT, for sure, but (similiar to most of the big tunes from this summer) there was a wildness to the playing that really read as "um, we're sorta lost up here and i'm not sure who's gonna bring us back home." Sure enough, Mike and Fish's attempts to return to the signature meter were ignored/unheard (where's Paul when you need him? the sound these days is just loud and muddy as a whole) and things came back to earth with an awkward and syrupy swirl. STILL, it was great to hear them let go and take a chance, and the first several minutes were cohesive and menacing without losing the rhythmic power like every other version from the summer.

The Antelope was heads and tails the musical and energetic highlight of the night. It's worth the price of admission alone. Tight and zapped with a fiece determination to not only hit the climaxes but to hone in on that remarkable communciation that we know and love. So good and so powerful. It's easily the best I've heard from these guys since they've been back.

The second set was full of drawn out guitar-hero histrionics and poorly played ballads. But dig the end of Rock and Roll for an amuse-bouche of '97 style funk. And Also Sprach was whip-tight like a box of crackerjacks. B-boys rejoice!

Trey's nod to the sign-holders for an Axilla encore was touching and led to a head-banging session that still has my neck in shambles. Perfect ending.
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