, attached to 2013-07-05

Review by MiguelSanchez

MiguelSanchez This was my first trip out to SPAC. I rolled up there without tickets, and was a little worried about landing in the infamous SPAC lawn. Well, I ended up in that lawn all 3 nights, and we had a blast!! Anyone that bitches about this lawn needs to go to Alpine Valley. That'll give you something to bitch about!!

Now, onto the music. The front end of the set is ok, but it never really seems to gain any traction. The debut of Yarmouth Road was certainly a nice treat. After being sound checked in Bangor, many were anticipating this Gordo tune at SPAC. This pleasant reggae tune seems like a keeper already and definitely has a summer tour feel to it. Bathtub Gin peeked as it normally does. It's always a welcome first set addition, but like many 3.0 versions, this one is nothing to write home about. Nellie Kane and Army of One kind of kept the hodgepodge feel of this set going. My Friend seemed to pull everyone back into it. On paper, it doesn't seem like it would be a great fit, but Cities complemented MFMF very well. Page takes a nice swampy solo on the back end of this version that made everyone think that we might be going on a little ride here, but it seems to fade away organically before Fishman makes a move for Bowie. They seem to be feeling this song more and more every year since the return. They still haven't churned out a whopper, but every version since 2012 has been very engaging. It always feels like they are one performance away from freaking out on one. As for this version, they all seem to be in sync here as the middle section gets an interesting work out as they build up to the coda. Trey is strong, but as is the norm anymore, they take the middle section into the coda quickly and cleanly. All in all, I would give this set a C, but the last three songs left everyone optimistic for the 2nd set.

Now for my traditional review style:
Energy: As this one started, I honestly thought it was a new Trey soon. It kind of had a little bit of that cheesy Trey feel to it. I didn't know it was a cover until someone in the lot told me post show. Either way, it is a little cheesy, but it is a catchy little tune. This version is very straight forward. If you want a more adventurous version, check out Chicago, Georgia, and BGCA later in the tour. After this debut, Trey cranks up...

Light: Well, we were all ready for our first SERIOUS jam of the run, and this one delivered. They bounced between some serious rock/funk jamming here. It really starts to get hot around the 8:30-9 minute mark. Right as you think they are just going to ride the groove they had built out, Page and Gordo just turn the jam inside out. Mike slams on the space bass effect, and Page comes over the top with some heavy duty synth rock. Trey counters with some brilliant dissonant rhythm guitar playing. This section was HOT. CK5 brought the thunder here too. I'll never forgot those bad ass white lights cutting through the black of night. Back to the music. As this jam settles down, instead of just letting it fade into the evening, Trey leads everyone on an absolutely gorgeous MUST HEAR passage. After working through this, Trey leads the band into...

Mango- This song is not a favorite of mine, but I certainly do not dislike it. When it fits a set, it fits. On this night, it definitely fit. This is a straight forward version, but it compliments the jam out of Light very well.

46 Days- Like Mango, this is not a song I typically root for, but when it popped up, it certainly felt right. Trey, as is the norm, built a powerful solo with a driving climax in the middle section. On most nights, this would be all that I would expect of this song, but the action was not over. What makes this song a keeper is the dirty funk jam that popped up on the back end. Once it is developed, Page drives this one right into...

Steam- Great segue. Great placement. The bridge between 46 and Steam was completely unexpected, and oh so sweetly executed. As for this Steam, it seems to be one of the more controversial tunes of the tour. Basically, if you don't mind the "whale call," you will like this version. If you don't like it, stay away. Personally, I loved it. Trey built up an absolutely psychedelic solo through the middle section. It was a little choppy at times, but I think it still worked very well. Side note, I was very excited to catch my first version of this tune.

Drowned- HOLY CRAP, this was certainly not on my radar at this juncture of the show. With early in the second set being the normal placement, I knew they were trying to line up a ferocious 1-2 punch to close this show down. They were successful. This jam never is not all that long. It does not reach for some high flying climax. That is not what they go for here. As they come out of the back end of this rocker, it is clear they are going to take their foot off the gas. It is like a slow swim deep into an abyss. It is patient and driven. The bottom does not just simply drop out. Mike and Trey control this one all the way down. As they settle comfortably into the spacier realms, this jam finally descends into...

Slave- There we go!! This is the best slave I have seen since the mid/late 90's. You can tell that Trey is done having to think about this song. He is back to just feeing it. He runs a magnificent weave all the way up to the climax. The dude is butter on this. He just melts all over the place. This is the perfect closer to one of the most cohesive well-played sets I have seen in a LONG TIME. Not to mention, from the beginning of Drowned to the end of Slave is like cruising in and out of a gorgeous valley.

Enc:
Zero: This is up there with Loving Cup as one of my least favorite encores. Can't win 'em all.

Overall:
The first set is forgivably shaky. There is nothing to bitch about, but there really isn't much to revisit except for the MFMF->Cities->Bowie stretch. Even that can't be described as "must hear."

The second set, with the possible exception of Light and Slave, does not feature one song that will probably get mentioned as a must hear, but as a whole, it is a brilliant performance. It is engaging from start to finish. I would definitely say this is my favorite set of the '13 SPAC run.

Highlights:
Light, 46 jam->Steam, Drowned->Slave


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