News of Sullivan Hall's sudden closing was met with disappointment by many - in particular those involved with the NYC jam band scene. Personally, I had some great memories from the two Lawn Boys shows that I managed to catch at Sullivan Hall in 2013; that place had a fantastic sound system and a great vibe, even if the bartenders were incompetent and the bathroom situation was a joke. This Lawn Boys show had been scheduled to go down on the evening that Sullivan Hall's closing was announced, which had them scrambling for a last-minute change of venue. Fortunately, they were able to secure a late-night slot at Knitting Factory, conveniently (for me!) in my neighborhood, just a mile or so from where I'd last seen them, at Europa in Greenpoint, just a week before Phish's Fall Tour began.
Prior to that Europa show, The Lawn Boys had announced that their keyboard player would be departing. Fake Page's spot for this show would be filled by the dude from Strange Design, and he was great, but it would be a little while before they'd find a permanent replacement. [At the time of this writing, I haven't seen them since the new guy has come onboard although I intend to catch at least one of their Garcia's residency shows this month and their upcoming show at SPiN NYC.]
Although I was psyched that Lawn Boys would be playing in my neighborhood, a midnight start time is a tall order. Of course, any reservations I may have had about it being worth it were put to bed early on, since Lawn Boys are fucking awesome. Highlights for me were the (unintentional?) extended piano break in "Poor Heart," a smokin' "Stash," a fanastic "Tweezer" with "Heartbreaker" jam (see above for video), and the second set-closing "Mike's" > "Paug." See below for the setlist.
By the time this show finally wound down after 3 AM, I'd made a few new, uh, "Phriends" (facepalm), engaged in any number of aggressively nerdy Phish-centric conversations ("FALL TOUR ROCKED BREH!!!), and drank more than my share of cheap-ass beers. (I'd also gone a little over 9 miles on the pedometer :->) Fortunately, we wouldn't have to wait too long to see Lawn Boys plying their trade, as they would be returning to 89 North in Patchogue the following weekend - I'll post my review of that show some time over the next couple of weeks.
[Blackout's press photo, a/k/a the band photo that renders all previous and future band photos irrelevant.]
In all my years of excessive show-going, I don't think I'd ever attempted attending three different shows in one day, but with me having absolutely nothing else going on this lovely Saturday, I figured why the heck not. Right?
First stop was Union Pool for the second installment in their 2013 Summer Thunder weekly series. I've seen scores of shows at Union Pool, but this was the first time I'd ever seen one outdoors. Got there in time to catch the second half of opener Love As Laughter's set, which was highlighted by J Mascis joining in on guitar for the final song, a raunchy, slow two-chord monster that sounded an awful lot like Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane."
This foreshadowed what was *supposed* to come next - a performance by Mascis' Heavy Blanket side project. I thought that the Heavy Blanket album was too wanky, but I can totally get behind the psychedelic / bluesy / gratuitous guitar solo thing in the live setting. Unfortunately, with Mascis and his backing band right in the middle of their first song, they were told by what appeared to be venue management that the show was shut down because of noise complaints, and they complied after finishing that first song. This really sucks, and it doesn't bode well for the remainder of the Summer Thunder series, one would think, because it really wasn't all that loud.
[I talked with a few Union pool employees after the show who told me that the bar's elderly neighbors had complained about the noise, and Heavy Blanket posted on their Facebook today that, in fact, the cops had insisted on shutting it down. And simply moving the show inside wasn't an option. Sucks.]
Anyway, the show getting shut down was only the second worst thing that happened here, with the worst clearly being the dude wearing a Paramore tee shirt. Wtf? [Oh, yeah - don't bother watching the below video unless you really, really like looking at the backs of people's heads.]
So, tail between legs, I headed back to my apartment for a couple comfy hours before heading over to Vitus for White Widows with Blackout. Although I've heard both of these bands' studio work (the White Widows EP is pretty damn good), I'd never seen either of them live before. This was a free show, serving as a video shoot for a White Widows song. [Note: it looks like the band has officially changed its name to White Widows Pact, which makes sense, seeing as how "White Widows" was such a good name it had to have been used before. At this show, vocalist David Castillo introduced the band as "White Widows," so who knows.]
Blackout's set consisted largely of dirge-slow stoner / doom licks. Here's a small, unsatisfying tidbit:
White Widows was up next, and they brought the thunder, featuring heavy-as-fuck thrashy licks, dual lead vocals, and lightning quick drumming. These guys are tight as hell and I highly recommend their live show.
Needing to catch up on my pregame, I busted it out of Vitus a bit early and hurried back to my apartment to fuel up on cheap vodka. J train into Bowery, then walked over to Sullivan Hall... got inside at 11, just as Lawn Boys were finishing tuning up. This was my second time seeing these guys live, with the first being in late January, also at Sullivan Hall. I raved about the band's performance at that show, but they've somehow managed to further improve their jamming. The set was crammed to the gills with impressive type II improvisation.
Comparing any cover act to the band whose songs they're interpreting is rarely a flattering exercise, but Lawn Boys really stand out in that regard. For one, the song selection is spot-on, with nary a "Joy" or "Show of Life" or "Alaska" in sight, and these guys' attention to detail is really remarkable. What's more, they're unafraid to give big-time workouts to songs that Phish themselves rarely "jam out" these days - notably "AC / DC Bag," "Gumbo" and "Destiny" (the latter of which Phish has never really jammed out, to my knowledge) in the first set alone.
Highlights for me were the hilarious crowd participation during the "Secret Language" bits, said aforementioned "Bag," and "Gumbo," a "Gin" which seemingly channeled the legendary Great Went version, a jam on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" jam in "2001," and, oh yeah, they nailed "Glide." Just a great show, with a rowdy, appreciative crowd, an extremely talented band, and holy shitballs what a setlist:
Set II: Ha Ha Ha$, Carini% > Twist&, Tweezer* > Ghost > 2001+, Gotta Jibboo, Harry Hood, Run Like an Antelope
Encore: Character Zero, Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise
*with all fall down, Simpsons, and random note secret language in intro
**with Sand jam
***with Mind Left Body jam
@with NICU tease and extended Theme from the Bottom jam
# with plinko jam
$ band announced this was the 100th Phish song they've covered live
% brief Mind Left Body jam
& Oye Como Va jam
* with brief Tweezer Reprise tease in intro and with random note secret language
+ with Get Lucky [Daft Punk] jam
Lawn Boys played for over three hours with about a 20 minute setbreak, and I wound up not leaving Sullivan Hall until after 2:30 AM, and not getting home until about 3:30 thanks to the total joke that is late night J service. A pretty great Saturday, as well as great primer for Summer Tour '13 which.... HOLY SHIT I JUST REALIZED SUMMER TOUR IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!
I heard about this show on Phish.net - apparently these guys were kind enough to play a Sandy Benefit a couple months ago (where the hell was I on this one?!) which raised $1200. Figured it was worth a shot to brave the, what, whole 1/8 of an inch of snow we got (and a few stops on the M Train) to see if these guys were as good as people had been saying.
Fuck yeah, they were. The band themselves sounded great, performing with passion, skill and enthusiasm, and it was obvious that they'd put in the necessary time practicing the uber-challenging sections of the songs they chose to cover (the setlist was chosen in a setlist submission contest conducted on the band's Facebook page).
I for one had a great appreciation for the super old school, entirely 1.0 sets they chose. No, we didn't get any "Show of Life" or "Joy" or "Alaska" or any of that garbage thrown our way - just a whole mess of vintage tunes. In fact, the "newest" song they played, if you can believe it, was "Ghost," hahaha. Here's the setlist, taken from texts I was feverishly sending Beafvy during the show:
Set I: Curtain > Reba, Ghost > Foam, My Sweet One, Ya Mar, Cars Trucks Buses, Antelope, Frankenstein.
Set II: Oh Kee Pa > Suzie G, Melt (aborted early due to broken guitar string), Suzie G jam (bass, keys, drums only) > 2001 jam (bass, keys, drums only), Melt (with fixed guitar string), 2001 > Maze, Cold as Ice > Cracklin' Rosie > Cold as Ice, Lizards, YEM, Icculus.
Encore: Bowie, Golgi.
Highlights for me were the scorching "Reba" jam, the "Foam" which they completely nailed, and the loooooong improv section in "YEM." Hell, even "CTB" ripped, and, not gonna lie, I enjoyed this "Melt" better than any version I've seen Phish perform probably since the 30+ minute version that was one Coventry's few bright spots.
So, yeah, get out to see Lawn Boys when you have a chance - their next show is Feb. 9th on Long Island in Patchogue (waaaaaay out there) at a place called 89 North Music Venue, which might be a bit too much of a trek for me, although you can be sure I'll be at their next NYC show, way up front and hopping around like a jackass as per ushe. Now here's a couple more videos: