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. butter Says:

    Carnegie is mind blowing with the recordings Miner has provided us, i can only imagine what it would have sounded like in that hall that night.

  2. llamalee Says:

    i’m sorry if i sounded complaining, i just would love a true SBD of that classical show. seis de mayo is my favorite trey “solo” work i’ve heard and that YEM is beautiful

  3. HarryHood Says:

    I caught Pork Tornado on a Blues Cruise on Lake Champlain a few years back. It basically amounted to a buffet diner, a cheesy cover band (with Fish on drums), and a boat full of drunkies. We actually had to go back to the dock halfway through the night because they ran out of booze. Musically it was a sub-par show, but it was a good time nontheless. When I realized that I was sitting at a table with Fishman eating a mac and cheese buffet dinner and listing to him tell stories during a setbreak, I decided that it was well worth the 15 bucks!

  4. albert walker Says:

    These new school kids need to get a clue
    I keep hearing about nitrous tanks outside Carnegie hall.
    You represent the scene. There is a time and place for everything.
    If you don’t buy them. They won’t sell them.
    Simple economics.

    $5 for a pinner balloon of automotive gas
    I just don’t get it

  5. bhizzle Says:

    I see the hot air balloon late night/early morning set is still roaming around. This time around it has been upgraded to each member playing in their own basket.

    re: Big Cypress video – looks awesome. How log before the release that dvd package? How much would that mutha be? It looks like they have a ton of footage from all festies. It would be sweet to have dvds of them all.

    re: Pork Tornado – that would be the only reason for me to see them again; to sit and listen to Fishman talk. I have a feeling he’d say some whacked shit as much as any whacked shit Gordo has to say.

  6. Little Buddy Says:

    Wow. Nitrous outside Carnegie Hall. That is really embarrassing.

  7. JerryTimber Says:

    Just revisited the Red Rocks ‘Ghost’ and that is clearly a “Praise You” jam.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @lee, supposedly the recording truck was there so hopefully there will be a professionally mastered official release of the Carnegie Hall show

  9. bearito Says:

    That ‘after midnight’ is something special.

  10. Billy Breathes Says:

    Last Cactus show @ Park West was a Magic Hat sponsored show. It was labeled as some Dream Show or something.

    It ended up being a total let-down as they really only played about an hour of music, the other hour was a bunch of shannanigans.

    At any rate, many have expressed concern to him and the band, and I’m sure they’ll be making up for it this year. They don’t forget things like that.

    Moving on, Trey @ Carenegie is just total bliss. Listenting now. It’s an entirely new dimension of Phishery.

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    re: Big Cypress release timeline – I’m going to take a wild-ass guess and say it will be out in time for holiday shopping season.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    It’s worth noting that the nitrous zoo didn’t get reported in the NYT article I saw – we always get mad when the media focuses on the negative and stereotypes, so it’s worth noticing when they *don’t* do that for once

  13. HarryHood Says:

    Fishman seemed like a really laid back guy (not that I’m claiming to know him personally), but he was there with his then girlfriend and it was a really cool experience to sit and chat with them. The boat was limited to around 150 people or so and mostly an older crowd there for the dinner and “blues”. It was a cool moment when I realized that I was listening to Fish talk about Phish in a non-interview setting.

  14. albert walker Says:

    I’m glad it just was not me at the Park West last year that did not enjoy it
    I left the show early and really had a bad time
    It sounds like it was just a bad show to catch
    Which is funny because they were hyping all tour leading up to it

  15. KWL Says:

    does anyone out there have a link to the matrix of the summer Camden show? I thought it was posted on this site but I can’t find it through the search…

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    @ Miner

    I swear when I listen to the Drowned from Tucson ’99, they were on top of an After Midnight-esque jam.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @KWL I have it at home but not with me, if no one comes up with the link I can up it later

    but I bet someone has the link

  18. albert walker Says:

    When Here Comes the Sun came on the speakers at Cypress during the conclusion of the new years show I thought Phish was still on playing it as a cover.

    If you think that’s a bad place to be mentally while the sun is coming up you should have seen me during the After Midnight jam the night before.
    Hands down largest, most serious throw down ever
    I was not sure we were going to make it to 2000 and it had nothing to do with Y2K

    Great memories

  19. Mitch Says:

    Hope you dig it this year. I had a blast in brooklyn. I did read all kinds of reviews last tour of the park west show. I thought that was the most high profile show, maybe i’m wrong. I dont think you saw an off night tho.

  20. Chuck D Says:

    Gordon’s band just dominates 15 Steps. The vocals would make just anyone dream about listening to Thom York, but I find that it’s still enjoyable for sure.

  21. MOONSHAKE Says:

    my friend in Asheville just called and left a message that he’s hanging out with Mike Gordon somewhere before going to see the show@Orange Peel tonight… lucky duck… wish I were there… welp…

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Anybody listen to “Splinters of Hail” off of Party Time yet? (sorry if this was already covered). It’s up on the Phish facebook page. Nice little song. I could see this being in a segue sandwich.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    got a very old school pink floyd sounding vocal arrangement there…

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    1)where were the Cypress video links officially posted by the band??

    2)Where is the Party Time link?

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    splinters of hail is part of TTE

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