Review: Mr. Blotto’s Blottopia Nine

“We Sure Could Use a Little Peter Today”

Probably the coolest element to develop out of Mr. Blotto’s proprietary gathering is their show closing tribute to their album cover subject matter. Last year, Blotto crafted a superb song called Wilson’s Lament, which is a continuation of the Gamehendge saga told through the perspective of the evil Wilson. It’s marvelously creative as Wilson’s expresses his dismay for being misunderstood and remorse for what he did to the lizards.

This year, they bookended the show by kicking it off with last year’s Wilson’s Lament and then closing with an homage to the guy behind the guy, Peter Tosh. Mr. Blotto dedicates this year’s new tune to the legendary guitar player, songsmith and pothead who was murdered on September 11, 1987. Interestingly, the band chose an entirely non-reggae sound, but rather an uplifting chord progression based song that provides a great show closer as they shift the “We sure could use a little Peter today” lyrics, to, “It sure was great to see you today.” Sounds a little corny on paper I know, but it sounds good I swear.

“Caught the Shows You’d Never See, From Soldier Field to Coventry”

An always-interesting element of the Blottopia shows – and the band in general – is how evident it becomes that these guys are fans first, musicians second. From their tune, 1977, which pays tribute to the Grateful Dead’s most revered year to the references to seeing shows, their live performances are constantly dotted with nods to their musical heroes. Despite having the talent, you get the sense that they would almost rather be in the lawn than up on stage doing it themselves, which translates to a band that is really gracious for its fan base.

Furthermore, does this song not sound a hell of a lot like God Street Wine?

“My Grandma Said to Your Grandma, I’m Not Gonna Play Scarlet Fire”

OK, I made this one up, but there’s a reason for it. While the band still tossed in a sunny Aiko Aiko, a mammoth Help-Slip-Franklin’s (with a little Astral Weeks in the Franklin’s), Estimated Prophet, and a Bird Song, the sets are starting to look definably Blotto with the list of originals outweighing the covers. This is not to say that the band is putting the kibosh on the covers, because great cover songs are their trademark, but it’s exciting to see the original music really start to pile up on the setlists.

All told, Blottopia 9 provided plenty of great improvisation, lots of surprises, and undoubtedly a really good time for all those lucky enough to attend. While the rest of the jamband community seems to keep heading for more electronica and ace deuce fitted hats, Mr. Blotto manages to provide a refreshing nostalgia for the long hair and patchwork. With the monumental tenth annual Blottopia coming next year, there’s plenty of time to re-grow those dreads.

Mr. Blotto
07/11/2008
“Blottopia IX”
Vasa Park
South Elgin, IL

Set I: Tuning, Wilson’s Lament*> I Don’t Work On Sunday, The Jinx (Anywhere I Go)> Anywhere “JAM”> Anywhere I Go Reprise, Help On The Way> SlipKnot> Franklin’s Tower> Astral Weeks> Franklin’s Tower Reprise, People In The Middle**

Set II: Tuning, Spacey Intro> Keepin’ It Up> Drum “JAM”> JAM> Keepin’ It Up Reprise, Nebraska From Here> Estimated Prophet> Burning Shore “JAM”> Estimated Prophet Reprise> That’s What I Said, Long Way To The Bottom> Circle Seven> Strangle Hold> One Puff

Encore: Announcement from Paul, Three Times***

* Last song sung at last years Blottopia.
** With long Intro
*** Intro Sung By “Marcus” (go listen to Parking Karma)

Mr. Blotto
07/12/2008
“Blottopia IX”
Vasa Park
South Elgin, IL

Set I: Tuning, After It Rains, A Little Bit of Love, Sister Rosie> Chasin’ Rosie “JAM”> Blue Moon of Kentucky, Movie Star, Hell In a Bucket, Back Jack, 1977

Set II: Tuning, You Rock and You Roll, Almost, Organ Grinder> JAM> Meddle Spoken Word “Silent Rites”> Organ Grinder Reprise, Bird Song, Kiss Me In The Morning, Iko, Iko, Space> Here We Are

Set III (Encore Set) – “Babylon By Bus” (Live Album by Bob Marley): Tuning, Greetings, Positive Vibration, Punky Reggae Party> Exodus, Stir It Up, Rat Race, Concrete Jungle, Kinky Reggae, Lively Up Yourself, Rebel Music, Medley: War/No More Trouble, Is This Love, Heathen> Jammin’

Encore: Peter Today*

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4 thoughts on “Review: Mr. Blotto’s Blottopia Nine

  1. DaveO Reply

    These guys put a whole lot of effort and preparation into the shows they throw, and I think that’s great.

  2. Eddie Reply

    These guys just get better and better.

    This was the best show I have been to all year.

    Great atmosphere, friendly crowd and one of the best bands around.

    If you want to hear something HUGE go to the archive.org and download Keepin’ It Up> Drum “JAM”> JAM> Keepin’ It Up Reprise.

    Amazing!

  3. Dave G. Reply

    Blotto really knows how to put on a music festival. Everything you love about camping and music without the hassle you get from some of the more main stream fests.

    The great thing about these guys is you can sample that vibe all year long by checking them out at local bars around the Chicagoland area. They always bring their best effort to every show big or small.

  4. Stash Reply

    Mr Blotto has once again out done themselves at B9. Absolutely Chicago’s best Jam band and the newest original “Peter Today” proves they got it going on. Can’t wait for my next show because thats always the best show. Thank you Paul, Mike, Mark, Steve,& Tony!

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