Close to halfway through Mike’s nation-spanning tour, I thought I might drop in to speak briefly on what I think of it. Admittedly, I didn’t listen to any of the shows from Mike’s last tour, but after Mike was so dominant from June – August this year, I figured that I need to grab some of the Gordo shows this fall.
I expect tons of a hate mail for this, so here it goes; I am really disappointed with Mike’s band. Mike is not nearly as dominant as I would have hoped with this band. There are few rhythm based grooves in their jams, something I would expect more of when the head of the band is a bassist playing a Modulus Q5 with a percussion section.
Their setlists are really fun–Mike has a pretty good arsenal of silly, goofy-lyric songs built up. They are also covering some pretty fun and quirky songs. One of my favorites so far has been “Dancing in the Streets”. Mike is even covering Alanis Morissette’s “One Hand in My Pocket”. They have been covering Phish’s long time favorite, “Cities”, only it’s played closer to the Talking Heads’ version instead of Phish’s version. They covered “Lit-O-Bit”, the cover played once by Phish this summer. Their setlists feature song-sandwiches, teases (of all different songs from all band members) and decent instrumental interplay.
However, I think Mike should get a new guitarist. Scott Murawski seems to be a standard jamband guitarist. He has little substance or passion; he is simply going through the motions, and each time he jams it’s just a noodle-factory of no direction or musical ideas. To me, he sounds like every jamband guitarist out there. I think Mike should get a more funky-playing guitarist, one that sits back and supports Mike for extended bouts of grooving. One that can actually play the real version of “Sugar Shack” (at least Trey attempts to play all the notes) too.
Aside from the musical disagreements I have with Scott, I think it’s flat-out weird that, up until this tour, Scott was playing a Languedoc guitar. If I were him, I would want to stand out, making it clear that I am the guitarist that plays with Mike who is not Trey. I would be embarrassed playing the custom guitar of an iconic musician that normally plays with the band member who invited me to be in his quintet.
Also, on top of the sometimes generic, jamband guitar playing, Craig Myers on percussion adds little to any groove one would hope to hear from this band, and the keyboards are often one-dimensional and amateur sounding. To be honest, aside from the cool song selection, the band almost sounds like moe.–only less hard core.
I understand that Mike wants his songs to be heard more (since Phish seldom plays them), his concerts have certainly been song-driven affairs. After a whole summer of Mike leading Phish, Trey came back with his chops in Fall, forcing Mike to step aside a bit. Mike’s tour shouldn’t only highlight the songs he has been working on, but it should also highlight the domination of his 5-stringed ax that we witnessed this summer. At the very least, get a guitarist that’s going to make me want to listen to one of your songs a second time.
Mike plays tonight in Minnesota and tomorrow in Wisconsin.