, attached to 2014-07-20

Review by DevinB

DevinB There seems to be quite a bit of excitement about this show and I can certainly understand some of that excitement, having been personally overjoyed with the show by the time setbreak rolled around. Gumbo opener? Excellent. High-energy Runaway Jim in the number-two spot? Also excellent. Tela (my first!) was quite a moment. And that Mule? Wow. Just... wow. The energy on the lawn had been steadily rising and the energetic-yet-varied remainder of the set maintained the momentum built during the first quarter, leading me to declare to my friends at the end of Ocelot that it might be the best first set I have seen this summer. An absolutely wonderful Walls of the Cave rounded it out, confirming my post-Ocelot thought, so I had high hopes heading into the second half.

Unfortunately, unlike most of those watching the webcast, I felt the second set left something to be desired out there on the lawn. Sure, we got that amazingly unconventional version of The Wedge, complete with a wild type II jam, and that incredibly smooth "Ghostapaug" mash-up. That was all great. The issue, though, is that I (as well as at least a large minority of those around me) seemed to lose steam during a reliable-but-rote Disease opener, and the fact that the jam proceeded to fizzle out into nothingness before a slight ripcord into a beautiful-but-misplaced Winterqueen and a sleepy Theme From the Bottom didn't help. With this portion of the second set typically reserved for major jam vehicles, it felt like these songs completely sapped the energy from the crowd, which was especially disheartening in light of such a strong first set and the stellar Mike's Grove segment that followed. I am sure that those you who watched the webcast enjoyed the intricacies of the band's playing, which seemed especially tight, and thoroughly enjoyed the curve balls being thrown in a tour that, save for Randall's Island, has featured mostly over-the-plate fast balls; however, having been at the show, I felt differently. Maybe it's because seeing the band in a live setting hinges so much on energy and crowd feedback, so details like set continuity are a little more important. Or maybe it's because the previous Sunday's show at Randall's was one of the best shows I have ever seen from this band. Either way, I'm afraid my personal experience is in the minority on this one.

That being said, I think we can all agree that these Character Zero encores are getting pretty annoying. After such an unorthodox three-song encore the night before, this by-the-book Character -- the fifth(!) this summer -- seemed a little too contrived to cap off a three-day run. But, hey, at least we'll always have that Wedge jam!


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