Tag Archives: Grateful Dead

Concerts, Original Setlists, and Phish…

There has been a lot of discussion recently about Phish and their recent performance at Bonnaroo. The complaint I’ve heard is that the music wasn’t very original, the guest performer sucked, and there were a lot of repeated songs from the previous 2 shows in Worcester.

I haven’t listened to their Bonnaroo sets. I attended the two shows in Worcester, but have yet to have time to listen to their sets from Tennessee. That said, Phish has traditionally taken on a different sort of vibe when playing at a music festival that is not their own. At their own festivals, the crowd is there to hear Phish. At a festival with many different acts, especially one as diverse as Bonnaroo, the crowd is there to hear all sorts of different acts. Phish has traditionally played a “festival set” at these types of festivals – that is, a set of “greatest hits” and standard songs. They keep it fun. They give people a little taste of what makes Phish who they are without overwhelming them.

Music festivals with many acts also allow the bands to collaborate. When Phish first played Bonnaroo in 2009, they had Bruce Springsteen join them on stage. By all accounts, it was a good time. This year, they were joined by Kenny Rogers. Also, by all accounts, a good time. While these sit ins may not produce the most spectacular music, mainly due to the little time available to practice together, they can produce a fun once in a lifetime experience for those in attendance. They can also fulfill dreams of those on stage by allowing the artist performing to invite their friends and influences to join them. This happened when Trey invited Bruce on stage in 2009.

When a band plays a concert, they play it for the people at the concert. Phish was playing for the crowd at Bonnaroo, which occurred 2 days after they played in Worcester on the last night of the four day festival. The vast majority of Phish fans in attendance at Bonnaroo were not at Worcester. Having repeated a lot of songs played at Worcester, those in attendance had not already heard them at the previous show. Phish is known for playing a completely different show each night. The Grateful Dead were also known for the same thing. However, the Grateful Dead also commonly played the same songs on multiple consecutive nights, sometimes at the same venue.

I think it’s time that Phish fans lose the chip on their shoulder and learn to just have a good time. If it’s fun, isn’t that really all you could ask for?


Darkstar Orchestra at Lupo’s

This post is almost a week overdue, but I know some people who read this blog will benefit from it.

I decided on a whim to check out Darkstar Orchestra, a Grateful Dead cover band of sorts, at Lupo’s last Monday. I had heard great things about the band and figured I should see them while they were in town. I had originally planned on going alone, but one of my friends from Twitter decided she was also going with a friend on a last minute decision (more on that later).

Darkstar Orchestra is known for recreating entire Grateful Dead shows. They pick a date and play whole show start to finish. This was one of the reasons I had wanted to go see them. I have liked the Dead for many years and have seen Phil Lesh and Friends twice, which was pretty close to seeing the Dead. The only thing was, I wasn’t overly familiar with a lot of their music or the whole vibe at their shows. Phil and Friends was mostly younger people from the current jamband generation. This show was different. It was full of older heads.

The band started the show with Bertha, one of my favorites as it’s a super fun danceable song. From that, they went into the Greatest Story Ever Told, another song I knew (though didn’t know the name). The crowd was loving every minute of it. Other highlights of the first set were Row Jimmy and Let it Grow, which closed the set. During the setbreak, I was on Twitter (big surprise) and was going back and forth with some people trying to figure out which show it was. Oddly enough, someone came up with a date that had the same exact first three songs, but I was missing some others. Just as the second set started I got the tweet that it was Sept. 30, 1989 as the band opened with Iko Iko. The second set was even more fun than the first (with the exception of some douchebaggy guys that couldn’t just listen to the music during Drums->Space). It was the first time I really listened to Drums->Space and realized that I really like Drums, but I wasn’t crazy about Space. This Drums was vibrating the whole building. It was insane. The second part of this set brought down the house. A Brent tune following Space followed by The Wheel, Watchtower, and Touch of Grey with a US Blues encore. After the encore, they announced the show and then brought out a young woman to sing a tune. I don’t know what the song was, but it was very bluesy and she had an incredible voice.

If you get the chance to see this band, do it. They’re worth every penny. I had a chance to listen to the original show and I have to say that I actually preferred the show I saw. I had a blast and will definitely be going the next time they’re in Providence. They’re really more than just a cover band, making it that much more enticing.

Now, as to my friend who tried to come, she got thrown out, but not after being royally harassed by the bouncer (yes, she got thrown out before she even got in). You see, she had some prescription medication on her, unfortunately, not in the bottle. It was partially her fault for it. They wanted her to toss it. They weren’t going to let her go back to the car. After arguing a bit, they said one of them could go back to the car (neither familiar with the city). She didn’t want to go alone or be left alone with the bouncer who had already verbally harassed and basically threatened her. After he and a woman who worked there started making comments about her, she got upset (and rightfully so). They eventually just told her to leave. I felt really bad. Lupo’s normally isn’t that bad. This dude was a total doucebag. She’s working on getting a refund (which I have no doubt she’ll get) and I had already emailed the band about what happened. I plan on sending Rich Lupo a letter explaining this. As a Providence resident and someone who thinks the music scene is important (and Lupo’s being important to the local music scene), behavior like that from the bouncers is unacceptable. The problem with the setup is that they search you (which is weird to begin with) after they rip your ticket. Of course, once your ticket is ripped, they don’t let you back in. It’s basically a lose-lose situation for someone with something they consider contraband. The last time I was there, I had a mini Leatherman on my keychain. The guy searching me saw it and I had to explain to him that it was scissors and not a knife. He let me in. I wasn’t about to throw it away because a place that has no sign or posting anywhere (including on their website) about what is and is not allowed in determined it to be contraband. I would’ve put up the same stink as my friend had they done that. The worst part was, that was at a much larger show (Trey’s last solo tour).

Anyway, it was a great show. Go see them. Screw the douchebag at the door at Lupo’s. I’ll go back because I love music. She’ll get her refund. It’ll all work out in the end.