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”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    @ AW

    Well, since we went to that Park West show last year together, I would tend to agree. The last experience was just awful! Maybe this year there will be no more stage acts and so forth. I would just let it pass IMO. The Kotke stuff is the best so far.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    Windy City, Let Me Lie and Only a Dream are all “album purchase only” tracks on iTunes – we already bought the CD, so I’m not going to buy the whole thing on iTuens again to get those 3 tracks…I’ll check tonight…I’m sure the whole Party Time album will be up there before long

  3. halcyon Says:

    Have the box sets shipped yet? I thought they were going out later this month beginning of Oct.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    stage acts? circus? sounds cheesy.

    PDX show was just 2 sets of rock. First set progressed from OK to really good. 2nd set went from really good to pretty great. Encore, if I remember right, was Makisupa and Takin’ It To The Streets.

    A lot of it was about Mike’s enormous, ridiculously perfect tone and the explosive crowd response in the small Aladdin Theater. While I agree about the odd stylistic match with Scott I think it basically comes down to friendship and enjoyment.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    I think you may be right Mr. C.

  6. Chuck D Says:

    Anyone got any Old in the Way recordings available via non-torrent?

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    That After Midnight Reprise Jam (1st link) is/was/and has been my favorite part of Cypress for a decade. Never seen it- that shit is sick!!

  8. cottle Says:

    @ Chuck, I think I have a show or two on CDR. Step one is finding the discs, step two will be making sure they still play fine. I hope it’s on CDR anyway. If they were on XLII, then I can say with certainty that they’re long gone.

    Let me do some digging later this evening and see what I can come up with.


  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    @chuck D, I have an Old & In the Way mix on this computer, I could toss it up in my mediafire if you’d like it -20 songs including pretty much all the highlights

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    …I do agree that the Leo and Mike stuff is the best, though. Love it. Been bumping their version of Twist on a daily basis – so hip

  11. Chuck D Says:

    Cottle, I’ll shoot you an email

    Mr. C, I would appreciate this greatly. Thank you.

  12. SOAM Says:

    Why can’t you write about Vida Blue or Pork Tornado-I’m so sick of hearing about Trey and Mike –waaaaaahh

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    oh, and by the way, that song “La La La” is a Fatboy slim track…you still think they weren’t playing “Praise You” in the Red Rocks Ghost?

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’m going on Fatboy Slim tour.

    uploading now, chuck…5 minutes or so

  15. Jay Says:

    Why can’t you write about CK5? He is the 5th member of the band ya know! 😉

  16. SOAM Says:

    why on earth has Fall tour not been announced

  17. Chuck D Says:

    ^^ sweeeet! thanks

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Jay: CK5 😉

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    a brief plug – all of the O&ITW official releases were recorded by Owlsey using a remarkable miking & mixing technique – they’re true audiophile documents and well worth owning.

    if you like bluegrass, that is 😮

    now that the dust has settled around the “OMG hippies playing bluegrass WTF” controversy of the time it’s clear in retrospect they were one of the best bluegrass bands there’s ever been, with Vassar Clements in peak form and Grisman showing dominant chops. If you’ve only heard Grisman in his modern mellow incarnation, or even in the 90s Garcia/Grisman stuff, you might not know what a fierce, fiery player he was in the 70s. Jerry knew perfectly well he was the third best picker in that band…

  20. SOAM Says:

    I really enjoy Rice, Garcia and Grisman-Pizza Tapes-man-there are some haunting vocals-humor and tasty pickin on that one..

    I am a maaaaaaaaaaan of constant sorrooooowww-I have seen trooooouuble alll myyyy daaayys

    I have no friends, to help me now….

  21. Chuck D Says:

    ^^ I’m lovin these recordings Mr. C. Great quality, great flavor.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    @ SOAM

    Are you on the East-Coast?

  23. fat bastard Says:

    long black vail is haunting

    i said this once before but check out bad livers if you like bluegrass. “the ridgetop sessions” is money.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^ tony rice is my favorite acoustic guitar player of all time, crossing the finish line so far ahead of whoever is in 2nd you can’t even see them in the dust – Pizza Tapes is some great loose stoned out stuff – there’s more that circulates beyond the official release

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. C

    What more stuff? I had the analogue tape in the mid- nineties. Everything on that tape is on the disc. Did I miss something?

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