Bass In Your Face

Red Rocks 8.2 (D.Vann)

Red Rocks 8.2 (D.Vann)

While Trey was busy fulfilling a dream on Saturday night in New York City, Mike was on the road living his own, as a band leader of his own group, playing his own music.  And only five shows into his “Get Bassed” tour, Gordeaux is doing just that.  Mixing eclectic originals with an an array of diverse covers, Mike is at the forefront of percussive, bass-led jaunts largely rooted in the tradition of Americana rock.

Combining his signature, chunky bass lines with Scott Murawski’s southern-tinged melodies and layers of percussion, Mike’s band has delivered upbeat jams that are most often rhythmically focused.  The most popular songs from The Green Sparrow- “Another Door,” Andelmans’ Yard,” “Sound,” and “Traveled Too Far”- have become anchors of Mike’s sets while many other originals have been worked in.  Aside from his own songs, Mike has featured a wide spectrum of covers in the first week of tour.  Giving musical nods to Coldplay, Radiohead, Desmond Dekker, The Allman Brothers, Deee-Lite, The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Leonard Cohen, Mike has embraced musical diversity, both old and new.  In addition, the band has played originals penned by three other group members.

getbassedWhile Trey’s side-projects are, most-often, directly related to Phish’s musical future, Mike’s have been an opportunity to distance himself from his other band.  With Leo Kottke, The Duo, and now The Mike Gordon Band, he has taken advantage of his opportunities to broaden his horizons with musical experimentation unrelated to Phish.  But never forgetting what got him there, he always seems reference Phish songs; this past week working”Meat,” “Sugar Shack,” and GRAB’s “Suskind Hotel” into his sets.

With jams heavy on percussive groove and layered improv, The Mike Gordon Band has received rave reviews after “bassing” people for only a week.  To check out what’s been going on, I downloaded Saturday night’s show in Falls Church, VA to see what Mike was up to while Trey played in New York City.  This is what I found.

State Theatre, Falls Church VA

State Theatre, Falls Church VA

Opening the show with his two most recognizable numbers, “Another Door” and “Andelmans’ Yard,” the band spliced improvisational segments into both, creating engaging extensions of these songs’ changes and rhythms.  Very danceable music, it sounded like the energy in room on Saturday night was palpable.  The third song, “Emotional Railroad, scribed by someone Scott Murawski, and sounded a bit more generic with Garcia-esque runs up the fretboard by Murawski and complementary piano leads by Tom Cleary.  There was certain Grateful Dead feel to this one, as Mike included his envelope filter bass-bombs towards the end of the jam, and throughout the night.

Speeding up the tempo and seamlessly segueing into a new original, “Can’t Stand Still,” the band was locked into some fluid and spirited playing.  Communicating proficiently as they dug into the song, this didn’t sound like a band’s first week out on the road.  Their musical comfort with each other was clear as the music pulsated with Mike at the center.

Murawski and Gordon - Seattle '08

Murawski and Gordon - Seattle '08

Before the next selection, “Spiral,” Mike indicated that the band had only played it once and it was “an intentionally trippy song,” though he wasn’t “speaking from experience, just from conjecture.”  Following that sentence up with the absurd Gordonism, “Actually I’m not speaking at all,” they started the song.  As the slow opening unfolded, Mike’s lyrics crept out at the same tempo, creating a very trippy vibe, indeed.  This song sounds like one Phish could (read: should) adopt and interpret masterfully as a layered addition to their catalog.  Drifting into abstract psychedelia, this jam held the distinct feel of Grateful Dead-Phish fusion- some really engaging music.  My favorite piece of this show, I now await the day Phish breaks out “Spiral;” it will be sick.

Falls Church w/ Guenaur (M.Gordon)

9.12 - Falls Church w/ Guenaur (M.Gordon)

Inviting folk-rock guitarist, Reid Genauer, (Assembly of Dust, formerly of Strangefolk) to the stage, the band launched into a cover of the the Allman’s “Ain’t Wasting Time No More.”  Taking the tune for a somewhat generic ride, they eventually broke form with Mike’s pumping bass lines heading the charge as they segued into a textured take on Fatboy Slim’s “La La La.”  Check out the basscrabatics on this one, as Mike got straight silly.

Genauer stepped off stage and the band returned to Gordon’s music with “Sound.”  A song that embodies Mike’s emerging writing style- with melodies featured as prominently as his unique rhythmic concepts- in the vein of “Another Door” and “Andelmans’ Yard,” “Sound” is a favorite off The Green Sparrow.  A bass intro gave way to a soft, blooming arrangement that likened a comfortable musical swaddle.  Cleary’s piano leads lent a jazzy feel to the jam of this very collaborative piece.

Falls Church (M.Gordon)

Falls Church - 9.12 (M.Gordon)

With complex percussion, the band began “Sarala,” an impressive jazz composition written by percussionist, Craig Myers, himself.  Not only is Mike embracing the music of pop-culture and his musical roots, but he is also using his band a as a platform for his lesser-known bandmates to get some of their own music out there.  So far this tour the band has played songs written by all three other band members besides drummer, Todd Isler.

Breaking the music down into a more bluegrass-laced place, the band again transitioned from song to song into another original, “Couch Lady.”  While this is sounds like classic Gordeaux, this was definitely my least favorite piece in the show; but I don’t dig on bluegrass.  A cover of Radiohead’s “15 Steps” came next, illustrating Mike’s risk-taking and willingness to cover one of today’s most prominent acts.  Featuring  heavy bass work and organized cacophony, I wish I could say more in relation to the original, but Radiohead, like bluegrass, really isn’t my bag either.

Falls Church Soundcheck (M.Gordon)

Falls Church Soundcheck (M.Gordon)

Mike clearly has tons of music that no one knows about unless you are hitting up these shows, and he broke out another original to close the set, “Only A Dream.”  One of the longest pieces of the show, the rock composition turned far more interesting once the lyrics fell away, but still fell short of the most engaging pieces of the show.  Honoring the request of “Sugar Shack” for the encore, Gordon played a more bass-led version of his new Phish song before finishing with an inspiring and extended take on the Doobie Brothers’ cover “Takin’ It to the Streets!”  Never a dull moment with Michael Gordon.

Touring with a band of legitimate improvisers, Mike’s shows take on a the contours of dynamic band interplay, creating unique paths nightly.  Rooted in rhythmic textures, getting “bassed” has never felt so good.  Don’t let the lack of media coverage fool you- Mike is a secret agent after-all- the music being churned out by his band is both fresh and exciting, and if you can get your face in front of the bass, I highly recommend checking it out.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

2001 > Disease” 9.29.99 II

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Pyramid’s enormous “2001” took it to the next level, and its energy spilled right into a blistering “Disease.”



2009.09.12 The Mike Gordon Band, Falls Church, VA < Torrent

2009.09.12 The Mike Gordon Band, Falls Church, VA < Megaup

getbassed-1Another Door, Andelmans’ Yard, Emotional Railroad, Can’t Stand Still, Spiral, Ain’t Wasting Time No More* > La La La*, Sound, Sarala^, Couch Lady, 15 Steps**, Only A Dream

E: Sugar Shack, Taking It To The Streets^^

* Allman Bros cover, Reid Genauer on guitar & vocals, ^ Craig Myers original, **Radiohead cover, ^^ Doobie Bros cover

Source: Schoeps CCM41V’s DINa>Sonosax SX-M2 + B&K 4023’s DIN>Neve Portico 5012 (Silk) HPF@65HZ>Sound Devices 744T @24/48 (Taper – Ned Struzziero)


2009.09.12 Trey and NYP, Carnegie Hall, NY < Torrent

2009.09.12 Trey and NYP, Carnegie Hall, NY < Megaup

9.12.09 (LiveMusicBlog)

9.12 (LiveMusicBlog)

I: First Tube, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Brain & Robert, Divided Sky, Water In the Sky, Pebbles and Marbles, Guyute Orchestral

II: Time Turns Elastic, Let Me Lie, You Enjoy Myself  E: If I Could

NEW Source: SP-TFB-2 > SP-SPSB-10 > MARANTZ-PMD620

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182 Responses to “Bass In Your Face”

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  1. Matthew Schwarz Says:

    I’m in the U.S. Navy, on a ship out to sea. I’d love to download both Mike’s show and Trey’s Philharmonic odyssey. Unfortunately my ship blocks access to Megaupload. Some of the other similar sites (like Rapidshare) aren’t blocked.
    Can someone post to those sites?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    ^I can do it for ya, but I’ll be leaving for school in like 20minutes, so I don’t know if I have the time (im downloading it now)

    Thank you Mr Miner, I have been wanting to check out Mike’s band. More importantly, their live show. Oh, and that Radiohead cover is “15 Step”

    So what, is this a Mike appreciation forum now? Where’s the rest of the band? 😛

    Once again, thank you for uploading this, I really do appreciate it

  3. axillalot Says:

    Hey Miner (or anyone else that may know)
    Wouldn’t “Only a Dream” be the same song from “Party Time?” The track was released on the itunes version of Joy (bonus track version). I’m pretty sure he’d played it earlier on the tour as well. Can anyone confirm this? Once I download this show I’ll try to do just that.
    Thanks as always for a great site. I look forward to my daily morning read before work!

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    haven’t been on for a wihle, real life has been so busy lately, but I came to check in today and here we are, with a review of Mike’s show, on the morning I am going to see Mike here in Asheville! I am wondering about show times – says 8pm doors, 9pm show, so I’m assuming he’ll come on our standard 9:30ish? How long have the sets been?

    Pretty excited to get some bass time – I’ve never seen any of Mike’s solo projects, though I’ve seen almost all of Trey’s and also caught Vida Blue when they came to town. It kinda sprung up on me and now it’s time, woohoo!

  5. Mitch Says:

    I’m still looking for a copy of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn show if anyone has a link. I personally loved Couch Lady in BK but that’s cause it reminds me of my buds.

    It’s already been mentioned but Miner, I think we all knew Radiohead wasn’t your bag when you said “Step 15” …Just breaking balls. Bluegrass isn’t my bag either but I still say check out the Couch Lady, she’s a fine woman.

    p.s. hows the qual on those Trey links? Anyone have it downloaded yet?

  6. Jam on Dude Says:

    I saw Mike in Raleigh last night and yes you will have a good time for anyone going to future shows. He and the band really mixed it up well with great song selections and positive vibes (even on Monday). Showtime was at 9:15 sharp and he played till 11:30 and from my understanding (straight from the T-shirt guy) that is the time he has been going on for the last few shows. The other members of the band are solid, but it is Mike’s Band, and you will walk away with an even greater appriciation of just how great Phish are as a whole band. I’ve seen Trey, Mike, and Page shows and each of these guys can produce a great show on their own, but together, well you know! Have a good time.

  7. cottle Says:

    What a perfect day for this write-up. I just got a healthy dose of Mike last night, and this band is HOT! I was surprised by how “phishy” everything sounded, but I suppose having a Languedoc guitar alongside Mike’s Modulus bass has a lot to do with it.

    Awesome show. Everyone should go out and GET BASSED!!!

    @ Cowfunk: I got there last night around 8:30 (website said Doors at 7, Show at 8) and I missed all but two songs of the opening set. I can only speak for this one show, but they seem to be starting right on time. Mike’s set started right around 9:30, lasting roughly two hours, w/ encore(s).

  8. cottle Says:

    ^ that should have been, show at 8, but somehow the combination of the number 8 and a parenthesis turned into a smiley face wearing shades.

  9. Tenniru Says:

    Wow. Long time reader, first time commenter here; having missed out on every Phish show of the tour, nothing made me happier than checking the blog this morning and seeing a review not just of a Mike show, but the Mike show I WENT TO.

    Simply put, this show was incredible. The State Theatre was packed, and everyone was moving from the first note of Another Door. I wound up positioned directly in front of Mike’s bass amp, which was eye-opening (or ear-opening, anyhow). The energy was consistent all the way until Only A Dream, which was a perfect set closer (and, yes, the same one slated for inclusion on Party Time, and Phish had BETTER play this thing live).

    I (and probably everyone else) hadn’t heard any of the songs he played before except the Green Sparrow material, Couch Lady, and of course Sugar Shack, but I didn’t care. I’m personally glad he stayed away from most of the Phish material, as I don’t want to be thinking about Trey when Scott’s already up there doing his best. I’m also glad that the one Phish song he DID do was Sugar Shack; to hear the oft-neglected song that caught my ear on that Camden recording three months ago suddenly come to life before my eyes was magical. The performance lasted about seven minutes, too; a good deal longer than anything Phish has done with it.

    I’m glad I was at this show, and I’d recommend solo Mike to anyone (Phish fan or not). I’d say this was easily one of (if not THE) best shows I’ve been to.

  10. fat bastard Says:

    whole tour! posted some sick footage of BIG cypress last night check it out

  11. ub40 Says:

    thank you miner!
    the new trey source sounds realllly good 🙂

  12. KWL Says:

    hey folks! Haven’t been around in a long while, been super busy. Note to self: do not schedule any major life events immediately after tour. I had my comprehensive exams a couple weeks ago and it was terrible getting ready for them right after tour ended… Then right after those I had a week-long workshop that I was ill-prepared for, and now I’m finally back to home and normal life. Oh, except that I’m moving cross country next week! Any of you folks in Colorado? I will soon be living in the San Luis Valley, with frequent trips up the front range.

    Anyway, during all this I have managed to keep up most of the time with Miner’s posts, so a big thank you for all the write-ups, music, and info. Much appreciated!!

  13. Jam on Dude Says:

    I saw Mike in Raleigh last night and yes you will have a good time for anyone going to future shows. He and the band really mixed it up well with great song selections and positive vibes (even on Monday). Showtime was at 9:15 sharp and he played till 11:30 and from my understanding (straight from the T-shirt guy) that is the time he has been going on for the last few shows. The other members of the band are solid, but it is Mike’s Band, and you will walk away with an even greater appriciation of just how great Phish are as a whole band. I’ve seen Trey, Mike, and Page shows and each of these guys can produce a great show on their own, but together, well you know! Have a good time.

  14. cottle Says:

    One final note for anyone planning to get bassed. Last night, as I was setting up my stand, I went to double check with the guy at the light board to make sure I wasn’t blocking his view or getting in his way at all.
    As I’m speaking to him, I’m having one of those “where do I know you from?” moments. All of a sudden it hits me. The guy running the lights for this tour is a cat named Saxton, who ran the lights for STS9 for many years. If you ever saw Sector 9 in the late nineties through the mid 2000’s, and you thought the lightshow as SICK, then there’s another reason to go see Mike’s show. I always thought Sax produced one of the illest light shows on the club circuit, and last night was no exception.

  15. KWL Says:

    funny story about the first day of my exams. These are the comprehensive exams for my PhD program, and the way it works is I pick three reading areas in my discipline (geography), then get tested on how well I know them–one day of exams for each reading area, two questions each day. My advisor emails me the questions in the morning, choose one of two for the morning, and choose one of two for the afternoon. I prepared all summer for these things, or, well, at least all summer between shows.

    The first day was the same day Miner had the SPAC BDT#L as the jam of the day, so I popped onto the site & started it up while I waited to get the questions. The jam is going along, I get the questions and start reading them, and it was like instant panic–they were nothing like what I anticipated. Actually I did a pretty bad job of anticipating what I would be asked on all 3 days. But the first 10-15 minutes of looking at these questions was like sheer terror, I had no idea what I was supposed to say. And as I’m going through all these emotions–shock, terror, anger, anxiety, holy-shit-what-do-I-do-now–I start to hear the BDT#L jam creeping back into my consciousness, which had kind of faded into the background as I read the questions. And, well, Trey scared the crap out of me. He starts hitting this aggressive minor chord, over and over–the jam went from happy and bouncing to dark and psychedelic pretty quickly. Go here:

    Trey hits the first chord at 11:16. It was just the perfect storm of emotion on my part and dark scariness from Trey–I had to shut the music off!! Really freaked me out, didn’t listen to any music the rest of the morning… Later on I went back and listened to the whole thing, and after the dark scariness it gets right back to a happier theme after only a couple minutes… If I would have kept listening they might have helped me get back to a more calm place–but those chords were too much!!

    I think everything on the exams went OK though. I find out Friday how I did when I defend my answers orally, but I’m pretty sure I passed just fine… Damn, just re-listening to that jam now brings back all the rush of emotion in that one terrifying moment…

  16. halcyon Says:

    @kwl…..where in the san luis valley are you going to be?

    I am in CO….in the mtns along the I70 corridor

  17. TheDropper Says:

    Love that Only a Dream off Party Time.

  18. KWL Says:

    @halcyon, I will be living in or around San Luis, one of those small Hispanic villages near the New Mexico border. The research I’m doing is there. I’ll be spending plenty of time in Alamosa, and I have friends in Fort Collins from when I lived there 3 years ago, so I’ll be coming up there a lot too.

  19. KWL Says:

    re: Party Time.

    How is it? I haven’t heard it or anything about it… too poor to shell out for the Joy Box just yet…

  20. Gus Says:

    yeah I don’t know if it’s been answered but yes the only a dream mike plays is the one on party time.

  21. Jay Says:

    Emotional Railroad is a Max Creek song penned by Scott M.

  22. fat bastard Says:

    sounds like a good name for some soft porn.

  23. halcyon Says:

    awesome KWL….Colorado has a huge music scene…you will love it here

  24. Chuck D Says:

    ^^ I’m in Colo as well… Breckenridge. Where you at Halycon?

  25. Mitch Says:

    So was Party Time leaked? My box set hasn’t come and I read it ships in early Oct.

    Fat bastard, yes indeed a good soft porn name!

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