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


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

Tags: , ,

182 Responses to “Bass In Your Face”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    @matthew – can you access mediafire? if so, and if brandon doesn’t have time to transfer it, I will when I get in to work

  2. halcyon Says:

    chuck d….just down the road in the vail area

  3. Brooke Says:

    Mr. Miner,
    Thanks so much for this show! Though I would have liked to see Trey debut “YEM” with the New York Philharmonic, I couldn’t make the trek up to New York, and I had gotten to see him play with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra back in May. Instead I decided to go to Mike’s show at the State Theater, and it blew my mind. Mike’s solo stuff is really enjoyable, and live he has some really creative musical escapades with a very nice backing band. Everyone should get bassed.

  4. Chuck D Says:

    Very nice, we’ll have to catch a beer this season Halcyon.

  5. KWL Says:

    Right on, I knew there were some CO people out there… Can’t wait to be back in the state. And can’t wait to have some of that great beer.

  6. halcyon Says:

    You bet chuck d…..ska brewing is one of my favs in the state

  7. butter Says:

    can’t wait to hear this new source of Carnegie, Thanks Miner!

  8. Billy Breathes Says:

    Thank you Miner.

  9. whole tour! Says:

    in case you missed it yesterday….from the fest8 site….cypress box set preview:

    incredible! amazing! outstanding! dank!

    great coverage of MGB today! i’m getting psyched for friday.

  10. fat bastard Says:

    whole tour! i loved those videos- jonesin for more!

  11. whole tour! Says:

    me too!

  12. fat bastard Says:

    page’s fingers weren’t working too well during that first link

  13. whole tour! Says:

    at that point in the set, they had already played longer nonstop than any other phish show. no setbreak. i’d be a little tired too. and they still had 4 more hours to go!

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    wow halfway through the first of these vids…outstanding!

    @Matthew, if mediafire would help you, just post again to let me know

  15. Robear Says:

    Ask and you shall receive. Last night, I was going to bed, wondering if we’d get a download from the ‘Get Bassed’ tour, and then, voila!

    Cheers, and thanks. Will wait until tonight to download, and avoid bandwidth over use-age.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    so if yesterday was 46 days until the start of Festival 8, then that makes today 46 days until our next costume album!

  17. fat bastard Says:

    in the past 24 hours we’ve gotten trey at the hall, gordon gettin us BASSED and those great video feeds. i love technology! and miner’s daily effort!

  18. smegma Says:

    sorry if I missed previous discussion on this but I was very surprised to see the guitarist for MGB playing a DOC. Any background story on this or is it just a coincidence?

  19. cottle Says:

    Thanks WT! I just forwarded those links to damn near everyone I know.
    Hopefully the DVD box will be out in time for Christmas. The only thing better than a ten-year commemorative box set would be a ten-year commemorative festival.

  20. Chuck D Says:

    The one thing that really stands out to me through the orchestral recordings is the lack of percussion. They use a variety of different instruments to fill Fishman’s sound.

    I feel I might be in the minority here, but I have grown to love TTE by Phish, even more so after hearing the orchestral version. I’m not trying to say that the T+NYPH version isn’t breathtaking, because it is; but I think the way Phish has arranged it is much more lively and interesting. They get such a full, dynamic sound out of their 4 pieces, its astounding.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh and Mike’s shows are fun, and a little more than just fun. recommended for sure.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    Mr. C.

    We’re you at the Raleigh, NC. show last night? LOL!!!

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    ? no saw him last tour

  24. albert walker Says:

    I’m going to have to check Mike out one more time.
    I saw the Park West show last tour and did not really get it.
    There was some cross dressing circus of some sort put on with the concert.

    He’s playing at the same place again and it is a few blocks from my house.
    I dig Mike as a bass player.
    He was not only the most improved member of Phish in 2009, but led the band through a lot of the stronger jams.
    I just think as a band leader it falls flat. I just don’t think Mike’s quirky groove based odd metered songs can carry a 2 hour show.
    Of course this is just my opinion and I know it’s great, everyone love’s it, except me.
    I find the guitar player selection odd. He is an amazing player but his more southern, blues, roots rock style does not really mesh with Mike’s songwriting.

    Anyway like I said, I’m giving it one more shot.
    Maybe the last show I saw was just an off night.
    I do admit I don’t find the Green Sparrow that interesting a listen so maybe it’s just not my thing.
    Do love the Kotke shit, no doubt!!!

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    link to Party Time?

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