Consistently Random; Sunday Night in Amherst

10.20.10 (T. Merkle)

After playing nearly nine straight shows of unique and interesting music, Sunday seemed to feature songs that they were getting out of the way after the 3-show run. One song came after another with no musical flow and little-to-no improvisation. After a solid first set effort, including the fairly large bust out of “Ride Captain Ride”, Trey was either too tired after their busy week of traveling to put together a cohesive set or he was just trying to play some songs that they had not gotten to yet that weekend.

Set 1: AC/DC Bag > Camel Walk, The Divided Sky, Ride Captain Ride, Stash, Fee ->Time Turns Elastic, Cavern > Run Like an Antelope

Set 2: Seven Below > Wolfman’s Brother, Backwards Down the Number Line > Alaska >Free, The Lizards, Brother, Roggae > Taste > Waste > David Bowie

Encore: Quinn the Eskimo, Chalk Dust Torture

“AC/DC Bag” kicked things off for the second night at the Mullins Center, eventually leading us into an early-show “Camel Walk”. Trey sounded particularly tight on this one, hitting every string-bending note. When “Divided Sky” came next, we got the feeling that we were going back to an early-90’s/late 80’s set. The feeling was set in stone once the beginning of “Ride Captain Ride” started.

We had not seen “Ride” since 12/10/1999 in Philly–a song that had only been played three times since 1992 up until this point. It was apparent that they had been practicing it, as there was little rust to shake off while playing it.

10.20.10 (T. Merkle)

“Stash” loomed heavy, seeing as it had not been played since South Carolina. “Stash” featured an unusual jam that started with the normal song’s tension building. The sonic tension soon fluttered into intricate interplay between all band members. I thought they were going to eventually just go into another song seeing as how far away from “Stash’s” structure they were moving. At one point it was obvious that Trey was teasing Dave’s Energy Guide–exciting to see Trey do it for once, and not just Page. Eventually Trey came back into the normal jam building and building tension. We hoped for a huge release from him, but instead he awkwardly stumbled into the end of the song. Fishman was even caught off guard by the sudden ending.

“Fee” emerged for the first time since Broomfield. Trey, apparently using the megaphone for every 2010 “Fee”, sang the lyrics to the song before they slipped into the usual ambiance that follows the song. In yet another seamless segue and unusual fusion of songs, “Fee’s” jam blended into the beginning of “Time Turns Elastic”. I’m pretty sure this is a first for the song to be segued into. It sounded really nice. While the end of “TTE” wasn’t quite as boisterous as Broomfield’s or Deer Creeks, not many people mind a mid-set “TTE” compared to a set-closing “TTE”–something I think Trey is now on to.

10.20.2010 (C. Gadzinski)

“Cavern” played it’s typical 3.0 role as a set-closing teaser before launching into another stellar version of “Antelope”. “Antelope” was, possibly, the best straight-forward version they have played in the past two years. While Utica’s gets points for the best overall improv, last night’s gets points for wonderful patience leading up to impressive shredding. It’s and intense, high-octane version you don’t want to miss.

During setbreak, I was hoping for a 2.0 song to open up. I was thinking “Walls of the Cave”, “Pebbles & Marbles” or “Scents and Subtle Sounds”–we got a 2.0 song, just not any of those. I had almost forgotten about “7 Below” in recent months; up until last night it had only been played twice (nTelos and Greek) this year. At first it seemed like they were going to stretch this one out as the big second-set opening jam, but around ten minutes they went into “Wolfman’s Brother”.

When “Wolfman’s” started, I was pumped. I was hoping for a huge 2nd set “Wolfman’s” for a long time and, after Broomfield’s and Utica’s, this may be it. The 3.1 funk broke down right out of the gates, again. The dense musical soundscape was impossible to escape without dancing–could this be a 15 minute monster we have all been begging for? No, it would be an extremely short version, yet again. While I am used to them keeping the jams short in lieu of impressive segues and jam density, this is one song that really needs to stretch its legs. Especially in the 2-spot in the second set.

“Number Line” was expected any show, now–It came last night after “Wolfman’s”. Would this be the jam? We had not gotten an open ended “Line” since–hmm, was it Blossom? Or was it Merriweather? I honestly can’t even remember at this point. Needless to say it’s long overdue for a serious jam. I thought this may be it–the jam started to drift away, like it often does when Trey is not planning on finishing it. Instead it quickly comes back and Trey finishes the song quickly.

ACL - Nick Richter

After drab mid-set versions of “Alaska > Free”, “Lizards” was beautifully played. Lizards, always a crowd favorite, was welcome, but not expected in this series of unrelated songs. The “Brother” that followed certainly threw everyone off. The last non-Father’s Day “Brother” was at IT in 2003.

An uneventful, eye-rolling “Roggae” beautifully segued into a hot version of Taste. Taste is usually welcome too, but people were dying for some form of flow or improvisation before the end of this set. It was, however, nice to see only the third “Taste” of the year.

People were unsure of the curfew last night. At first it was announced it was 11:45 pm, when they blew past that, people said it was mid-night. When they blew past that, people were just not sure what to think. For a show with almost no jams, it’s impressively long. Including setbreak, the Sunday night affair lasted four hours.

When “Waste” started, people were thinking to themselves “this can’t close the show”. Luckily it didn’t; Fishman started up a completely unexpected “David Bowie”. Being played for the first time since Utica’s memorable version, people were paying close attention if Trey was going to return back to the usual straight-forward, 3.0 style of playing it. Trey must have known that after Utica’s there was no going back because this, again, contained a somewhat extended intro and a completely unique jam. I will have to relisten to the jam, but I remember tight improvisational interplay throughout. It built nicely until the end where Trey nailed everything. It redeemed a portion of the odd set.

The second set ended at 11:53; we assumed curfew was mid-night, which only leaves one short song. “Quinn the Eskimo” started, which seemed to be the perfect song to squeeze in before curfew. Keeping with the show’s randomness, Trey began “Chalkdust”. The show ended with high energy and a lot of confused faces. “Quinn > CDT” encore? Whatever–Tuesday is sure to be hot! Rest up, boys.