August 13, 2009

Review: Phish @ Chicago’s Toyota Park

It was a middle-of-the-workweek-good-for-nothing Tuesday when The Phish (from Vermont) brought their recently resurrected traveling circus to Chicago’s south side. That’s right…a Tuesday. Once reserved for routed dates in non-major markets, the weekday shows used to prove fertile for the widely-chased “sleeper show.” The show where you knew the band would bring the fire, given the randomness of the location and date.


It was a Monday in Utah in 1998 that saw a full performance of Dark Side of the Moon. A Tuesday in Boise in 1999 saw the bust-out of Peaches en Regalia. A Tuesday in Burgettstown in 2003 was packed with rarities, bust-outs and other heady goodness. Could a weekday show in a major market pack the same wallop? Apparently not. While far from terrible and not particularly-flub heavy (though there were some), Tuesday’s rock show at Toyota Park was representative of Phish, the band, but far from the transcendental heights sought out by the show-chasers.

The first set started rather predictably with Kill Devil Falls, Sample In A Jar and Ocelot, early-show staples of 3.0. The first Paul and Silas since 1998 seemed to get lost on the younger crowd but was eaten up by some of the old faithful. Everything thus far was well-played, but seemed to be lacking any sort of edge or meatiness. This continued through the debut of Windy City – a new Page number that stays true to his early-Elton roots. I’m interested to see how this one matures, but wasn’t floored by it.

READ ON for more of Joel’s thoughts on Phish in Chicago…

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For Those (Girls) About to Rock, We Salute U

Two weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest at the annual Southern Girls Rock’n’Roll Camp located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Southern Girls Rock’n’Roll Camp (otherwise known as the SGRRC) is a week-long day camp for girls age 10-17 held at Middle Tennessee State University. The camp was founded by Kelley Anderson of Those Darlins.


Anderson founded the camp as a student at MTSU after attending a rock camp in Portland, Oregon. The camp teaches instrument instruction including drums, guitar, keyboards, bass and vocals in addition to songwriting and recording techniques. Each year the camp features workshops and panels from women who work in all facets of the music industry. However, the most important lesson that is taught at the camp is not an instrument but rather how each girl can empower themselves and help create and strengthen their self esteem.

I had the opportunity to attend many of the sessions throughout the day as if I was a camper. The morning started as most summer camps do with an assembly with all the girls and volunteers gathered together to stretch, get loud and finally disperse for their instrumentation instruction for most of the morning. READ ON for more from Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp…

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The B List: Five Post-Breakup Phish Misses

There is no denying that Phish has been absolutely killing it this summer. Let me put that out there right at the beginning to alleviate any thoughts that this list is meant to serve as a bashing mechanism. The first leg (June) of the summer tour was highlighted, musically, by Camden, a scorching final day Bonnaroo first set with Bruce Springsteen and two awesome shows in Wisconsin at Alpine Valley. July and August have proven to be just as solid with incredible stands at Red Rocks and The Gorge so far.

But equally undeniable is the fact that some of the songs Phish used to absolutely demolish are still not feeling quite right. Not that the 2009 versions of these songs have been awful but they just haven’t lived up to their potential. So while it’s early in the life of this incarnation of the band, let’s take a look at a few songs that could use a vintage version…

The Moma Dance

Black Eyed Katie + lyrics about sailing = Fantastic. With 25 appearances in 1998 (only Birds of a Feather appeared more that year) Phish played the hell out of this song and shaped it into one of their most consistently funky offerings. For a while this was a song that just kept getting better and better and riled the crowd into dance party mode.

READ ON for four more songs Phish needs to work on…

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R.I.P. Les Paul (1915-2009)

Les Paul, the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar, has passed away at the age of 94 today from complications of severe pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains,

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Track By Track: Beyond Words – The Hue

As promised, we have another edition of Track By Track – the column in which an artist shares the story of each track on their latest album.


Midwest aggressive prog-rockers The Hue have only been together for two and a half years, but over that short period of time they have gained a slew of fans thanks to their masterful compositions, impressive improvisational skills and ability to get the crowd dancing. On Friday, the quartet will release their first full-length album, Beyond Words, and they’ll be taking the stage that night at The Bottom Lounge in their hometown of Chicago to celebrate.

On the eve of what seems to be the most important day in the band’s history, the members of the group share their thoughts on each of the tunes on Beyond Words…

Blackout by Brian Gilmanov

This song is about a person who drinks heavily and has the ability to conveniently erase mistakes they have made in life from their memory entirely, as if they never happened. It was inspired by an intense “friendship” with someone who pretended to be a different person upon meeting me out of shame for their past mistakes. I chose to convey this deception musically by throwing twists and turns into the typical song form, particularly in the middle of the tune where the second “verse” enters abruptly, has a different groove with a meter change, and starts getting more intricate harmonically. Another good example of this “musical deception” is the false ending where the intro chords also close the song, this was my first attempt at a “beginning is the end” structure and served as a taste of where my writing would go in the future. This song is full of surprises, rhythmically very intense, and easily one of my favorites to play live.

READ ON for more from The Hue about the songs on Beyond Words…

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Bloggy Goodness: Zimmy Claus

It’s hard to think about the holiday season when temperatures have been soaring above 90 degrees of late, but news surfaced last week that Bob Dylan had headed into the

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