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. Mr. Completely Says:

    Danny Barnes of the Bad Livers is, or has been, a Portland guy – a keystone of the acoustic scene here

    was just listening to The Band’s version of Long Black Veil this morning and thinking how inferior it is to Garcia’s, or any of dozens of more traditional takes on that tune…one of the classic super-depressing murder ballads…love the Band, that version’s not bad, but it’s too polished.

  2. Jay Says:

    Well, of course you have written about CK5 🙂 I think it’s about time I make this site my firefox home page.

  3. fat bastard Says:

    “im goin back to mom and dad, an my ole feather bed,
    city life has left me broke an tangled up my head, lord,
    an tangled up my head.”

    bad livers

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – there’s about another cassette side’s worth of material, maybe a little more. I forget the details of what they omitted…probably mostly noodling and banter and maybe another take or 2 of songs that are on the official release. not a huge deal, honestly.

  5. Jay Says:

    Loving that Cypress Free! Jesus, that is some thick goo.

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Yeah maybe true, but when you try to get everything that’s worth anything and you miss it, it makes the OCD in me freak a little.

  7. SOAM Says:

    dig the basements tapes-This Wheels on Fire–rolling down the roooaaddd!-Reuben Remus-that is the band with Bobby Dyls at their best IMO

  8. SOAM Says:

    This Wheels on Fire would be a great cover/opener

  9. albert walker Says:

    Speaking of the Band

    It would be real nice if Trey started doing It Makes No Difference again
    Love his cover of that one he used to do in Trey band

    Also love the Byrds version of Wheel’s on Fire- real haunting and psychedelic
    Like Jerry they were the masters of covering Dylan’s work

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    you can’t have everything

    where would you put it?

  11. halcyon Says:

    chuck d and everyone else….

    Old and In the Way from 73

    I think its still active. No guarantees though.

  12. fat bastard Says:

    i love the intro that cd, on how jerry named the band

  13. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Jesus, Completely. I went for O&ITW, and I left with that and What It Is. Many, many thanks.

  14. SOAM Says:

    I love-“it makes no difference” shit I forgot how much I dig that song…

    speaking of Trey-I absolutely love -C’mon Baby let go downtown and Will it go round in circles…

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s maybe the craziest month in Garcia-dom

    11-1-73 grateful dead in Illinois
    11-3-73 garcia/saunders keystone berkeley
    11-4-73 OITW cal state sonoma
    11-5-73 garcia/saunders keystone berkeley
    11-9-73 start of the Winterland run and then on with fall tour

    plus end of month there were experimental quadrophonic abstract seastones style shows with phil and mickey

    talk about diverse interests

  16. bhizzle Says:

    what could possibly be blogged about Pork Tornado? The only time I seen them I was either shocked with a blank stare on my face or shocked with a blank stare on my face. Unbelievable. If they ever came around again I think I would have to pass.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    People bag on the Phish version of Will It Go Round In Circles but I enjoyed it – but I do see it more as a TAB song – love the Billy Preston original too, it’s in that What It Is funk mix btw (enjoy, @Flagrante)

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol @ pork tornado

    file that under Things Man Was Not Meant To Know

  19. voopa Says:

    I mentioned it last night, but it bears repeating…the Winterland 11/73 box set is a must have. The jam in Let it Grow alone is worth it.

  20. llamalee Says:

    i downloaded the phil harmonic show from yesterday and was wondering if today’s download is a higher quality version.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    I haven’t pulled it yet, lee, but I doubt miner would post it if it wasn’t an upgrade

  22. bearito Says:

    Still a lot of crowd noise but thats to be expected. There’s a bit more clarity when I crank it way up. Thanks Miner!

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ so far, that’s all I’ve found out there. Use headphones….

  24. Chuck D Says:

    Thank ya much Halcyon.

  25. Chuck D Says:

    Danny Barnes is the shit. Got any Bad Livers to throw on mediafire Mr. C? 😉

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