What Happened at Walnut Creek 2003?

Someone sent me a link to a PT thread about Mike’s playing on 7/27/2003 at Walnut Creek. Aside from some stand-out performances, I have not listened to much of ’03 since ’04–this was a show I probably listened to once shortly after it was played and never gave it a second thought. After reading people’s posts in the thread linked above, I downloaded the soundboard to listen to what everyone was talking about myself.

Mike is noticeably off in the first set. This is odd considering that Mike is usually one of the most solid players in the band. Mike is not usually the one to miss notes, cues, or not give a song his all. However, the second Runaway Jim starts, you can tell something is wrong. Mike’s bass is lagging, more than a step behind the rest of the band. It seems like Trey tries to cover some of Mike up by playing louder and wailing (Trey sounds great in it). But if Trey was trying to cover up Mike’s playing, why would Trey lead the band into Ya Mar? Ya Mar is a song sung by Mike and features more bass playing that a lot of other songs. Mike’s singing is horrible (more-so than it usually is), it’s like he wants to sleep. At one point, Trey calls the rest of the band to do a ‘stop’ in the middle of the song, leaving Mike to solo–you can tell Mike tries, but just can’t seem to pull it off.

Set 1: Runaway Jim > Ya Mar, Down with Disease, The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar, Discern, Anything But Me, Llama

Set 2: Ghost, Halley’s Comet -> Seven Below, Tube > Prince Caspian -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fire

Encore: The Squirming Coil

Shoreline 2003

When Ya Mar is over, the band takes a two-minute break before starting the next song. If you listen to the soundboard recording, and turn it up, you can hear the band talking amongst themselves. You can clearly hear Trey say, “Mike if you can’t play, maybe we shouldn’t play.” You hear Fishman try to clear something up by saying “Let’s play like a quartet”, or something to that extent. Trey then steps up to the mic to tell the crowd they are trying to “iron some things out before the next song”. Trey goes on to ask, presumably to the front row, “does anyone know how to play bass?” before Fish starts a drum roll as if he is trying to keep the crowd from hearing anything that’s being said on stage.

You hear Trey and Fish say, “Down with Disease, Down with Disease”–that’s when Mike starts up the usual beginning, however, once the whole band kicks into the song, Mike’s bass becomes wobbly and can’t keep up. He misses a number of cues in the composed part of the song. Despite all that, Trey leads the jam to a furious finish and saves face (by melting it).

The second set, which is far better, opened up with Ghost, in the beginning you can hear Fish saying, “Mike, Mike”. The Ghost ends up being better than most of the first set but still isn’t ground breaking. What’s better than Ghost is the gorgeous Seven Below in the middle of the second set. Trey, still in the driver’s seat, soared gleefully before sinking down into a Ghost-esque jam. Fish’s drum work was exceptional in this song. The jam meandered from bliss, to funk, to heavy so fast. When Trey comes back into the theme of the song, the whole band just stops with Trey punctuating the end with some kind of vocal “uugh”. It’s a great version of the song, probably better than any 3.0 versions (yes, I include Albany 09 in that statement).

After the song, you hear Fish laughing and Trey says, “we’d like to welcome back our bass player!”. Page did a “Charge!” theme a couple times. After a number of fans yelled “Tuuube!”, they launched into just that.

Mike Gordon, Party Animal (from MG FB)

People in the thread posted above claim that Mike was seen out late the night before in Atlanta with Col. Bruce Hampton partying. Do any of you have information about this show–or, better yet, a VIDEO?

I find it funny that Trey made comments to Mike for not playing 100% two songs into a show. I’d love to see how Trey would react if someone said that to him at Coventry, Vegas ’04, or some 3.0 shows. “Hey, does anyone know how to play guitar?” I’d imagine that would be the real end of the band.

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