The White Stripes’ first-ever performance in Madison was a windy Thursday night in a college town where it appeared most of the students had already left for spring break. The gig at O’Cayz was the band’s first after the completion of their sophomore album, the “De Stijl” cover photos taken a mere two days earlier. While still three months before its release, March 16th is, essentially, the first show of the “De Stijl” tour cycle. The band does four songs off the album (some with the intro of “from our new album that’s coming out”), all of which they’d been playing live for months already.
While included in a still-unshared amateur video of the 3/3/00 Magic Stick gig, the version of “Death Letter” included here is the earliest available recorded live performance of what would become one of the band’s mainstay songs, performed at almost every show for the rest of their career. A little more simple than the behemoth it would later evolve into, I’m quite fond of the inauspicious take on Son House’s classic here. Like just about everything with the White Stripes…simple beginnings.
From my perch, the show was solid if not wildly divergent or raucous. The band went on second of three bands…before the headlining Mistreaters yet after Rob McCuen and the Ruins. I always felt the snare on this board mix was just too low for my liking but was eternally grateful that Kevin Meyer (of the Mistreaters) had the foresight to record the show. Bright moments like the seldom-performed “Grinnin’ In Your Face” or “Astro” interluding with a nod to “Peter Gunn” but without the “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” lyrics or Jack saying he invited the mayor of Madison to the show that evening…all stick out to me as welcome, unique turns in the evening.
Most of all, I’m still scratching my head at Jack introducing “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” as having been written by Buster Keaton…a spurious claim I still have no insight as to where in the hell it came from but had blindly repeated for years before realizing that Burt Bachrach and Hal David were the true authors.
Personally, I had a bitch of a ureteral stent removed earlier in the day and found out I’d gotten a full scholarship to college prior to shoving off for Madison….so all around, it was a pretty memorable day.
Loss is one of life’s most challenging experiences. There is no universal path to solace, no prescriptive behaviors to mitigate its pain. But as we process the death of a loved one, at some point in the days and weeks that follow, the one undeniable truth of the situation is eventually revealed: Life goes on.
Just 11 days removed from the passing of Danny Federici, Greensboro opens with a video tribute to the band’s fallen comrade set to the music of “Blood Brothers.” But from there the mood shifts markedly. At the first four shows performed after Federici’s funeral, setlists dipped back to Springsteen’s first two albums for songs like “Blinded By the Light,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” and “Growin’ Up” in tribute to Phantom Dan. There would be time for that this night too, but to open Greensboro, something more cathartic was delivered.
The pairing of “Roulette” into “Don’t Look Back” rivals the best one-two punch from any Springsteen show in any decade. Two stunning, underplayed rockers—one haunting, one life-affirming—blow off the doors of the Greensboro Coliseum, and the release of energy is unmistakably liberating for all.
As the diehard collectors well know, “Roulette” has a very tricky arrangement, especially as a one-off, and here it is played with full conviction in what has to be one of its best modern performances. How convicted? Listen to Bruce declare, “They say they wanna help me but with the stuff they keep on sayin’, I think those guys just wanna keep on playin’.” The guitar solo is searing as well, and Max crushes one of his signature drum parts.
The same can be said for “Don’t Look Back,” which faithfully follows the 1977 arrangement in its only live outing circa 2000-2012 and one of only 31 performances ever. Short-listed for, but ultimately left off of Darkness on the Edge of Town, “Don’t Look Back” remains one of Springsteen’s greatest non-album tracks. In fact, “Don’t Look Back” was so “ready” for Darkness, it is the only song that wasn’t newly remixed for Tracks in 1998. The performance in Greensboro is a faultless rebirth.
One could argue the top of the show isn’t merely a perfect pairing, but a trio, quartet, or even quintet of brilliantly linked performances. The momentum of “Roulette” and “Don’t Look Back” pushes kindred spirit “Radio Nowhere” to new heights. “Out in the Street” (a phrase also uttered in “Don’t Look Back”) bears renewed vivacity and “The Promised Land” brings us home, riding Roy Bittan’s piano and Stevie’s guitar.
Bruce finally catches his breath as we move into Magic territory with a solemn (and timely as ever) reading of the title track with Soozie subbing admirably for Patti. “Gypsy Biker” was a Magic tour highlight every night and continues to deserve consideration as one of the finest E Street Band songs of the 2000s. A heartfelt story follows, as Bruce describes meeting Danny for the first time, preceding a momentarily tentative but ultimately winning “Saint in the City.”
Setlists on the Magic tour were notably tight, and that bang-bang approach is in evidence as Bruce steers “Saint” left into a very fine “Trapped” and follows that with graceful right turn into the Nils Lofgren (and Soozie, too, in Ms. Scialfa’s absence) showcase, “Because the Night.”
The night’s crackling atmosphere sparks a terrific “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Jon Altschiller’s mix positions piano and guitar ideally. The performance is anchored by an impassioned Springsteen vocal that drops in defeat when he sings the slight variant, “I lost my faith when I lost you,” only to rise to that arresting heightened register to deliver the rest of the verse starting with, “Tonight I’ll be on that hill, ‘cause I can’t stop.” “Darkness” and the “She’s the One” that follows are equal parts vintage and in-the-moment.
By the halftime arrival of “Living in the Future,” the score Bruce has put on the board is at MJ/Lebron levels. And to continue the analogy, those games still make for great, memorable wins, even if the superstars don’t hit quite as many downtown three-pointers or monster dunks in the second half.
The return of a newly streamlined “Mary’s Place” registers as another highlight. “Let’s see if we remember this one…debut on this tour. Come on, let’s try it,” says Bruce with undeniable glee. There is something fresh about “Mary’s Place” mk2, with more echoes of the kind of updated “Thundercrack” or “Santa Ana” vibe that he seemed to be going for in the first place, compared to what the song morphed into on the Rising tour.
Sure, there is something peculiar about spending your sign request on “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” The motivation may have had more to do with being picked for the singalong (which, as it turns out, didn’t even happen for this tidy performance), but we’ll excuse it as well-meaning if slightly misguided. From there, Greensboro moves through a solid back ten that may lack a bit of the first half’s urgency but holds its own, especially the Magic songs: “Last to Die, “Long Walk Home,” and “Devil’s Arcade.” The last of these and “Magic” make their first appearances in the Live Archive series from 2008 performances.
Springsteen and the band ultimately bring Greensboro home in fine form through a long and lively “Badlands,” a musically rich and beautifully sung “Backstreets,” the fitting farewell of “Bobby Jean” (kudos to Clarance for nailing the solo), and the high-spirited finale, “American Land” with Charlie Giordano eloquently deputizing for Danny on accordion.
The recent release of Letter to You on record and film reinforces that life does go on for the E Street Band, and equally that the spirit of those who have departed continue to inspire those who carry on. Greensboro is a wonderful reflection on the process of loss and the power of perseverance.
In 2010, Animal Collective was fresh off the massive success of Merriweather Post Pavillion, a bold and wonderful record that is widely considered one of the most influential albums of the late aughts. Following Merriweather, a question lingered- what’s next? It turns out “next” was a project four years in the making.
Since 2006, Animal Collective had been working with director Danny Perez on the psychedelic visual album that would become ODDSAC. Equal parts audio and visual, ODDSAC is more than the sum of its parts. Meticulously crafted between Animal Collective and Perez, the film is a profoundly weird experience that will draw you in and surround you in its freaky aura. In short, it’s exactly what you’d want to watch on Halloween.
A decade later, we’re happy to report that Animal Collective is still weird and busier than ever. Since ODDSAC, members Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, and Geologist have worked on all manner of solo and side projects. As Animal Collective, they’ve released studio albums, live records, EPs, and more. One of those studio albums, 2016’s Painting With, was premiered over the speakers of the Baltimore-Washington Airport. They’re always thinking outside the box.
This Halloween, Animal Collective and director Danny Perez are revisiting ODDSAC for a special 10th Anniversary Halloween Party. The event kicks off Halloween night with a welcome set by Geologist and a screening of ODDSAC followed by cast & crew interviews, Q&A with Danny Perez, and DJ sets by Avey Tare, Deakin & Panda Bear. Don’t worry if you’ve already got Halloween plans, after you order the show you’ll be able to start watching whenever you’d like.
Ahead of the big Halloween Party, we talked to Josh Dibb (Deakin) and Brian Weitz (Geologist) about 10 years of ODDSAC, touring, and all things Animal Collective.
On every record, you guys are pushing the envelope, experimenting, and shifting your sound. Naturally, that has to lead to a very different experience on the road each album cycle. Was there an album or era where it was particularly fun to perform live?
Brian Weitz: I’ve enjoyed them all! The shifting you mentioned allows every era to feel fresh so when we start, the nerves are there once again. I don’t think I’d like to be in a band where it felt like the same routine after 20 years. I love the nerves of those early tours when we have a new batch of songs and a new set-up. Then you hit a peak and you know it when you’re at it, and then you know when you’re coming downhill. It feels a little more like endurance. The knees shake for a different reason than when you’re going uphill. That’s when it’s time to regroup. Or degroup. I do want to give a shout out to the Painting With cycle because of how much fun it was to play with Jeremy Hyman. He’s the first drummer I played with other than Noah since 1996 and it was such a fun ride to enter into a new relationship with such an amazing person and musician.
Josh Dibb: They’re all fun. That’s not just a diplomatic answer and of course, there are tours that are hard or challenging, but they all feel exciting for the reason you describe. We change so that we feel like we are exploring new territory for ourselves and we hope that makes the music feel more alive. That is what keeps it fun for us and hopefully for listeners. We never want to get to that place where it’s just a jukebox performance. That being said, one of the tours I had the most fun recently was playing Tangerine Reef live. Tangerine Reef is somewhat of a companion to ODDSAC actually in the sense that we wrote the music to be linked directly to visuals. In this case, it was all video that was created by our friends at Coral Morphologic. We only got to perform it a handful of times but there was something really special about it. The music was on the more ambient side than our normal shows but still had an incredible amount of specificity. Every time we performed it we were playing to the movements and feel of these images that look like the most psychedelic unreal thing you’ve ever seen and yet are actually just coral.
I was listening to a podcast the other day with Dan Deacon and he had some pretty insane stories from touring in the early 2000s. Do you two have any weird or wild experiences from putting tours together during the early days that you could share?
BW: I think we’ve told it before, but probably our most memorable one was in 2002 at an old church in Minneapolis that had become a group house that put on DIY noise shows. They had pizza for sale that was cut into small squares. We passed on it because we had already eaten dinner. At the end of the night, we were told each pizza square had a hit of acid on it but we didn’t know that during the show. People got increasingly weird during our set and a few of them started coming up on stage and tried to have conversations with us about the evil spell we were casting. I think someone tried to take off Josh’s shoes and socks in the middle of a song? One guy wigged out, went outside, and attacked the vans. We got a dent in ours but I think another band got a window punched out. Later on, when almost everyone had left, he was still there crying about how he had lost his leather jacket.
A week later we were on another bill with one of the bands from that night and they had the jacket. They had taken it from the van attacker as a way to get him to pay for the broken window, but he was beyond having a conversation, so they just kept it. Sometimes I think the weirdest part of the story though is that we were offered free pizza and said no thanks.
JD: Brian just told the Minneapolis story. Might have to leave it there. Can’t top that one, but that era of touring holds a special place in my heart. These days there are very few surprises on tour and it’s actually kind of rare to really meet and connect with new people. Back in those days every night was an adventure and for better or worse we were often at the mercy of local promoters and hosts to put us up, feed us, and hang with us. Sometimes that was amazing and sometimes it was uncomfortable but it was never boring. It’s an incredible way to get to know new places.
It’s the 10th anniversary of ODDSAC. A decade later, how do you feel about those four years working on the project and its legacy today?
BW: It’s one of my favorite things we’ve done. Definitely brought together so much of our aesthetic in a way that I don’t think any other single record has done. It was the first chance at really doing sound design and feeling how satisfying it is when you sync an image and a sound. I can’t really speak to its legacy. I know our fans like it, but I have no idea if it is discussed outside of the AC ecosystem. Visual albums are more common these days but at the time it was hard to know how to talk about it (even though I don’t assume anyone who has since done a visual album got the idea from us, and we certainly weren’t the first to make something of that nature.) I remember Gary from Plexifilm telling us he didn’t know how to pitch it to festivals or theaters because it wasn’t a documentary or concert film. It also was not a case of us saying “here is a new AC studio album and Danny made visuals to accompany it.”
We wanted people to know how much of a circular process we went through with Danny in terms of the sound and visuals going back and forth constantly influencing each other. That process felt very unique and we wanted a way of encapsulating it. Dave and I were on our way to the practice space one day talking about how to respond to Gary’s question and we said to each other, “let’s have Gary tell people it’s an album that you have to experience visually.” And then we shortened that to “visual album.” Pretty much every interview we did at Sundance asked us what we meant by that.
Speaking of Sundance, I’ll never forget the day we got accepted because I was actually in Philly and had lunch with Danny. We hadn’t heard anything yet about our submission and that morning Gary told us we probably would have heard by then if we’d been accepted and we should be prepared for a no. We spent lunch talking about all the movies that were Sundance hits that we thought were total garbage and convinced ourselves we had no interest in being part of it. Later that day Danny texted me “We got into Sundance!!!!” and we couldn’t do anything but laugh at how full of shit we’d been all afternoon.
Halloween is probably the perfect night to watch ODDSAC. What do you guys recommend fans do to prepare for the best viewing experience at home possible this Halloween? Mood lighting, lava lamps, etc..
BW: This year, please stay safe first and foremost. If you hang, hang responsibly. Masks up, lights down, and speakers loud. Outdoors would be even better. I know of a few outdoor screening gatherings. I think there is going to be one in an alley here in DC.
JD: Brian already said it, but please be conscious of your safety. We are psyched to be finding ways to continue to connect with people by making music and having an event like this, but we cannot wait until we can be in a club with everyone again. But after that… have fun, dress up, change the lighting, let yourself get weird. Halloween is a time to explore an alternate possibility of our reality. We can do that anytime but celebrate the collective intent on Halloween even if we can’t all be together. Elevate the vibe.
What movies or albums would you recommend people watch or listen to in order to get in the right headspace to watch ODDSAC?
BW: Maybe go in fresh. My set is supposed to serve as an introductory setting the mood kind of thing. Like a processional for an autumn harvest ceremony. There will be plenty of visual and auditory stimulation throughout the event so save your strength.
JD: I’m gonna plug my bandmate. Go listen to Brian’s radio show on NTS.live. I especially recommend the show he did last October. This show has a really good October vibe. It’s moody and spooky and filled with spirits. It starts off with a really incredible piece of sound and music that Brian and Dave made last year under the name The New Psychoactives. The first time they played it for me and Noah I was laying on a floor with my eyes closed and it truly transported me to another plane. What follows is a really great mix of stuff that is worth opening your ears to. Highlights include “Come Maddalena” by Ennio Morricone (who is one of the greatest of all time when it comes to film scores), Ralph Lundsten, Ron Elliot, Valentin Clastrier, a lot of great stuff. Highly recommended for the evening and definitely worth digging through more of Brian’s show anytime you’re looking for something new to stretch your musical mind.
You guys have been hard at work on some new songs, will we hear anything new during the Halloween Party? Is there anything you guys can share about what we can expect from the new music?
BW: No we won’t be premiering anything. The only thing I’d share is we’re really psyched on the new songs. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to make a record during the quarantine without being able to be in the same physical space, but it’s coming together!
JD: nope… no teasers. But we are getting closer and closer to being finished and we’re having fun and psyched on the results. we are still in an era of music writing that began with some shows that we played in New Orleans in 2018. It’s been a long road with a lot of unexpected turns but we are deep in it and psyched for the day we get to share it with everyone.
Brian, you’ve previously said that a lot of your music has been inspired by horror soundtracks, how does that translate into ODDSAC or your Halloween DJ set this year?
BW: I will be doing a live set. I wanted to do the introductory DJ set and was going to make it more of a drone /tape music set. I imagined it serving as the light background music you hear in a theater before the previews as people take their seats. Then I thought about the autumn harvest festival vibes I mentioned above and thought about using music from The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, and some hurdy-gurdy records I’ve been enjoying. But I already do a monthly radio show and get my fill of doing sets like that. I’ve been playing the hurdy-gurdy a bit so I decided it’d be a fun challenge to just do a live improvised set on that instrument with that vibe. Maybe viewers would have enjoyed my first idea more, but had to follow the guts. One of the guys out there who really helped get me started on playing the instrument is a musician named Ben Grossman. He played the hurdy-gurdy for that movie The Witch, so I guess it’s still tangentially related to horror soundtracks in that way.
What are some of your favorites?
BW: The Shining is the best, and one of the more influential pieces of music in my life. Tobe Hooper’s scores for Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eaten Alive are great and introduced me to the concept of musique concrete. Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls are great for the organs. There is an early 80’s movie called Blood Beat that has a great soundtrack. Just recently discovered that one in the last couple years. Music is admittedly better than the movie.
Josh, What are your personal favorite memories from making ODDSAC?
JD: So many… There was one primary shoot where we got the bulk of the images for the movie. We hunkered down north of New York City in a house with Danny and a crew of incredibly talented camera ops, set builders, and costume makers. It was just kind of a non-stop workshop but also kind of a non-stop party. It was just friends everywhere and something needing to get done. I remember one of the scenes that had Dave covered in red glitter in the house that we built in the middle of a field. I guess it was the food fight scene, I sat off stage and played autoharp for Dave and Annie and Molly to go wild to. That was great, getting to stand behind the cameras with Danny as the fire spinning footage started to come together and just feeling so excited about how everything was looking.
What was it like writing and producing music not just to be heard but also adding in a visual element with Danny during the creation process? Does it change how you approach production?
JD: Yes. this was the crux of the whole project. before Danny had shot anything or we had made any sounds, the 5 of us talked about wanting to make a visual album where the visuals informed the music as much as the music informed the visuals. We wanted the two things to feed each other. There was a lot of effort put into keeping that dialogue going both ways. Our music has always been very informed by the idea that sound can invoke images and spaces and sensations and that is as important as the chord changes and the melody. Finally having a visual collaborator to give us images that acted as a score for us to play to and also to give sounds that informed Danny’s visual decisions. That symbiotic back and forth was key and it was super fun to work that way.
I remember that when we were shooting the fire spinners, we recorded some of the spinning with field recorders so that we could then take those sounds and use them as part of the rhythmic structure of a song. We hadn’t written the song yet, we just knew that would be a great way to relate the image to the sound to the song. Another favorite was working on a scene that comes on about 20 minutes in. Totally abstract visual space. I think that one Danny had made the visual first and I remember spending so much time in the studio shaping the sounds so that there felt like there was this reactive relationship between the image and the sound. We were really using this abstract moving image as sheet music in a way and trying to decipher it to give us a shape for our sounds.
August 18th, 2000 had The White Stripes performing at Detroit’s venerable Magic Stick. Supported by near-and-dear friends (who’d later become bandmates and collaborators), the Greenhornes and Whirlwind Heat, the recording provides a window into the Stripes’ mindset that Summer — just after their West Coast De Stijl headlining tour in June and still yet to experience the insanity of their opening slots for Sleater-Kinney in September. The only known live performance of Captain Beefheart’s “Ashtray Heart” (which they’d just recently laid to tape for eventual release in the Sub Pop Singles Club), a rare live outing for the deep cut “I’m Bound to Pack It Up,” and an electrifying set-ending “Let’s Shake Hands” leave the listener with the palpable sense that something amazing is about to happen for this band.
Until someone provides a recording of the 7/22/00 Beachland Ballroom show (or possibly the 7/15/00 Blind Pig show) this is the earliest White Stripes live recording with Jack White using his soon-to-be indispensable Big Muff pedal. The performance of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” featured here is the earliest extant example of the distorted, feedback-soaked style that would become the standard for this song. The implementation of the green Big Muff Pi pedal here on songs like “Apple Blossom”, “Cannon”, “When I Hear My Name” and others presents dynamic variations on these classics that previously was non-existent, marking a watershed moment in band history that has not been previously heralded.
Whirlwind Heat played INSANELY early this evening. As in, they were already onstage by the time the Stripes arrived at the venue. The room was pretty empty at that point. So much so that Jack felt bad and arranged for the band to go on again…AFTER he and Meg had finished. You can hear him say after the completion of “Do”…speaking on-mic to Heat frontman David Swanson, “Hey Swanson, you wanna come up? Whirlwind Heat will entertain you again.” The band assembled on-stage quickly and played a brief but spirited second set. Classy all around.
The poster for this performance was personally designed by Jack White (as all early Stripes art was) and may or may not have appropriated imagery from a long-forgotten G.I. Joe graphic.
While previously released in 2017 as part of Third Man Records’ Vault subscription series, the version featured here is newly transferred, speed-corrected, and mastered in high resolution. Upgrade!
I’ve written before about the role the Darkness tour radio broadcasts played in the career development of Bruce Springsteen. Broadcast live from the Agora in Cleveland, the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, The Roxy in West Hollywood, and Winterland in San Francisco, those concerts were recorded off air by thousands of people listening at home in 1978. In the years that followed, many wore out their tapes, playing them again and again as the only “official” live Springsteen product until Live/1975-85 was released in 1986.
Through the “magic of bootlegging,” home recordings wound up on illicit vinyl pressings like Piece de Resistance and Live in the Promised Land. Copies of those LPs made their way to Europe, which wasn’t visited by the Darkness tour itself, so overseas fans at least got to hear Springsteen on stage. He and the band wouldn’t return to those shores until 1981; for such Bruce-starved fans, those recordings were manna from heaven.
Without question, the familiarity fans have with the broadcast recordings of shows like The Roxy and Capitol Theatre cemented their status among Bruce’s greatest performances ever. But what if there were another?
It would be an exaggeration to call Atlanta 9/30/78 “the lost broadcast.” But compared to the other four, which were pressed multiple times on vinyl and CD bootlegs, Atlanta is the least familiar, having no meaningful history on bootleg vinyl and a limited one on CD.
The home recording enthusiasts alluded to above were certainly more plentiful in the Tri-State area, for the Passaic broadcast, than in the Southeast for Atlanta. Other broadcasts got wider distribution (the Agora show was syndicated to FM rock stations around the country after the fact) or were simply bigger events to begin with (Bruce’s Roxy appearance was the most buzzed-about show in Los Angeles in 1978). On the other hand, Atlanta and the Southeast were more of a development opportunity for Springsteen that year, and legend has it, stormy weather in the region on 9/30/78 caused reception problems for those who did record.
All of which explains why, as fans traded tapes and bought bootlegs in the ’70s and ’80s, the quality of the Atlanta broadcast, if it could be found at all, was inferior to the other four broadcast recordings, hence its outlier status. But one listen to Jon Altschiller’s new mix from Plangent Processed, 24-track analog master tapes and Atlanta is an outlier no more.
The 9/30/78 set captures the Darkness tour “picked at the peak of freshness,” as the old commercial used to say. It’s like getting a lost episode of Seinfeld, shot but never aired during Season 5. The official release of this Fox Theatre show gives us the chance to fall in love all over again with a spectacular slice of Springsteen ’78.
After a great intro to the stage, the show smashes to a start with “Good Rockin’ Tonight” straight into “Badlands.” Each E Street Band member quickly shows they are in it to win it this night, with first-among-equals Roy Bittan carrying the melodic load with aplomb, as he will throughout the night. “Spirit in the Night” sets the band-fan tenor. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is flawless, and Bruce sings with total conviction — no more so than on a subtle lyric change, replacing “Where nobody asks any questions or looks too long in your face” with, “You can drive all night, and never make it around.”
Sonically, Atlanta offers crystalline clarity. In the stately “Independence Day,” which Bruce introduces as the “flipside to ‘Adam Raised a Cain’,” the level of instrumental detail — from Danny’s glockenspiel to Max’s hi-hat, Garry’s bass to Stevie’s delicate strumming — is breathtaking and immersive. It pulls you into what just might be your new favorite version of “Independence Day,” a sentiment you are likely to feel across several Atlanta performances. Yes, the audience is mixed just right, too.
The rest of the first set holds to the same gold standard as we move from a faultless “The Promised Land” to a scintillating, extended “Prove It All Night” that’s as good if not better than any version you’ve heard from this tour — and that’s saying something.
The same goes for “Racing in the Street.” Listen for a gorgeous and distinct bit of interplay between Danny and Roy around the 2:05 mark. The first set wraps with the peerless pairing of “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland.” It doesn’t get any better than this.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” opens the second half of the show in jolly spirits, and because the fake snow that fell needed to be swept up by stagehands, Bruce and the band vamp by paying tribute to one of Atlanta’s adopted sons, James Brown. They play the Godfather of Soul’s “Night Train” so well, one would think the song was in the set every night of the tour. In fact, this is the only performance ever of “Night Train.”
“Fire” extends the frivolity before the tone turns dramatic via “Candy’s Room.” Danny and Roy again weave around each other in stunning fashion in the long intro to “Because the Night,” which includes a superlative guitar solo in yet another “name a better one” version. The second River preview of the night, “Point Blank,” surely sent anticipation soaring for Springsteen’s next album, with Danny and Roy intricately swirling behind the striking original lyrics.
E Street Band vocals in the “Not Fade Away/Gloria” intro to “She’s the One” have never sounded livelier, the guitar licks never more Link Wray than this terrific extended reading, another reminder of how special it is to re-live such a beautifully recorded document of the tour. “Backstreets” provides a tour de force denouement, with the middle section a Van Morrison-inspired, mind-blowing melange of “sad eyes,” “Drive All Night,” “you lied,” and “we’ve got to stop.” Listening to the Atlanta version will reaffirm everything you love about the song, this tour, and these musicians.
Even venerable “Rosalita” gets an intriguing instrumental introduction more than two minutes long. There are so many moments in Atlanta 9/30/78 that are just a little different from the Darkness shows we know best, and it is all the more compelling because of it.
The traditional but no less exceptional Darkness tour encore of “Born to Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “Detroit Medley” brings us home, and the night ends with one of only eight tour performances of “Raise Your Hand,” far fewer than you’d guess because all five broadcasts are counted among those eight renditions.
With the release of Atlanta, the quintet of 1978 broadcasts in the Live Archive series is now complete, representing not only some of the greatest Bruce Springsteen performances of all time, but arguably the greatest live concert recordings in rock history.
When the Born in the U.S.A. tour kicked off in late June 1984, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had been off the road for more than two and a half years — or eternity, by Springsteen standards. Contrast that with their previous longest hiatus from the road, 21 months that passed between the end of the Darkness tour (January 1, 1979) and the start of the River tour (October 3, 1980). Prior to that, Bruce and the band had played a significant number of shows every year since 1972.
Not only did 1981-84 represent the longest gap between proper concerts, but the Born in the U.S.A. tour also marked the first personnel changes within the band in ten years, as Stevie Van Zandt stepped out, Nils Lofgren stepped in, and Miss Patti Scialfa expanded the E Street Band from six to seven full-time members.
The song catalog was growing, too. As a double album, The River contributed many new tracks to 1980-81 setlists, but in 1984, Bruce was again supporting two albums’ worth of new material, with one of them a true departure: the solo acoustic Nebraska.
All of which is to say that the early weeks of the 1984 tour marked a period of material change and recalibration to the established Springsteen live show. We can hear that process thrillingly in progress with the release of 8/6/84.
This concert was the second night of an unprecedented ten-show stand at the Brendan Byrne Arena in E. Rutherford, NJ. The sold-out run was strategically placed seven weeks into the tour, which gave the new line-up and material time to gel. With but two exceptions (Montreal and Saratoga Springs), all dates prior to the Jersey stand featured two or three nights in a given market.
Multi-track recordings from 1984 are limited to this Brendan Byrne run, and the Live Archive series has already released two of its finest shows, opening night (8/5/84) and closing night (8/20/84), each worthy in its own right.
What makes 8/6/84 distinct from its predecessors is that it represents what fans in 1984 referred to as the “B” or alternate set. Famous for ever-shifting setlists, when Bruce would play a second or third show in a given city in ’84, he typically changed out songs in the Nebraska mini-set and encores, as well as selected others throughout.
The setlist on 8/6/84 offers eight such changes to the opening night 8/5 setlist (nine if you count, and we should, “Do You Love Me?”). Collectively, they expand our overall perspective of the tour as represented through the Archive releases.
First up is the tour premiere of “Spirit in the Night,” a staple in 1978 that was omitted for all but three airings circa 1980-81 and resurrected here as a surefire crowd-pleaser for the New Jersey homecoming. It’s the third pre-Born to Run song to be featured in a 1984 setlist up to this point, joining “Growin’ Up” and “Rosalita.” The version is a fine one, with the Big Man’s saxophone on point.
After a bang-up “Atlantic City,” “Open All Night” makes its Archive Series debut from this tour. It offers one of most entertaining moments in these early ’84 shows thanks to Bruce’s introduction to the song, a tale of late-night driving on the NJ turnpike and racing the gas gauge needle (hovering around E) before getting pulled over by a highway patrolman. The officer seems to sympathetically recognize Springsteen, only to then drop the hammer on him with the memorable line, “Son, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
When I think of “Open All Night,” this is the arrangement permanently saved in my memory banks, and it is wonderful to have it for the first time in Archive quality. I can say the same for “Nebraska,” and while this is the version released on Live/1975-85, context is everything. This candidate for a definitive reading of the song sounds even better complete with Bruce’s prescient introduction (absent on the 1986 box set) about new technology making people feel isolated from their jobs, families, community, and government. The E Street Band provides perfect, subtle support, with Danny Federici’s glockenspiel and Roy Bittan’s Yamaha CS80 synthesizer adding disquieting, ethereal layers to the track.
“Trapped” is also the previously released version we know from the We Are the World album and Essential. Following “Nebraska” and still riding Bittan’s CS80, it comes off like the cathartic final scene of the mini-set, release coming via Clarence’s sax solo and the soaring voices that carry the chorus.
The end of the first set and start of the second stay true to the core ‘84 setlist, with “Because the Night” the next change from night one, with Bittan brilliant on piano and Patti stirring on the chorus. After a “Pink Cadillac” ride comes a flawless “Fire,” with Clemons’s rich baritone voice in full duet with Bruce’s lead vocals.
The main set comes to a close with “Racing in the Street,” a song that would evolve considerably as the tour wears on, truly coming into its own with a stunning synthesizer-backed story intro in October, November, and December ‘84 performnaces. Those elements aren’t here yet, but as Bittan carries the song through its epic conclusion, we get beautiful, fresh guitar interplay between Nils and Bruce that suggests the song is undergoing a rebirth.
As we move to the encores, Springsteen’s mood is summed up by the “whoop, whoop, whoop” vocal he drops around the 1:50 mark of “Rosalita,” perhaps a simple utterance of joy that night two of this most important 10-show stand was nearly in the books. But not before a few other highlights.
“I’m a Rocker” is a fantastic addition to any encore, and the ‘84 edition gets its due here. And yes, that’s Roy Bittan’s voice you hear loud and clear in the right channel of the chorus. Danny’s faux Farfisa sounds great, too.
But they saved the best for last. Arguably this show’s greatest contribution to the Live Archive series comes in the form of a song only performed on this tour.
Springsteen covered the Rolling Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man” 28 times, all but one in the summer and fall of 1984 (the last was London 7/6/85). This marks the first official release of the song by Bruce and the E Street Band.
Paired brilliantly in a doubleshot with a potent “Born to Run,” “Street Fighting Man” declares, “What can a poor boy do, except to sing for a rock and roll band,” a sentiment Springsteen was likely feeling as the biggest rock star in America during an election year. “Street Fighting Man” is a call to arms, telling us the “time is right for a palace revolution” against those in power. Its inclusion in the set is a not-so-subtle suggestion of where Springsteen stood just a few months ahead of the 1984 Presidential election.
A year later, Bruce famously introduced his cover of Edwin Starr’s “War” by stating,“blind faith…in your leaders…will get you killed.” “Street Fighting Man,” first played on opening night of the tour, and “War,” debuted at the final L.A. shows in ’85, can now be viewed as thematic bookends questioning U.S. leadership, something Springsteen continues to do in 2020.
The more I listen to this performance of “Street Fighting Man,” the more electrifying it sounds. Bruce carries the way with his impassioned vocals, but the band’s contributions are integral, as Garry channels his inner Bill Wyman, Nils finnesses an intricate guitar lead, and Patti pulls the chorus up to the next level.
One song later, Bruce asks the audience, “Do You Love Me?” After hearing “Street Fighting Man” again 36 years later, in an even more important election year, the answer is: now more than ever.
How should we view the Seeger Sessions tour in the context of Bruce Springsteen’s storied performance history? Incredibly, 14 years have already passed since the arrival of the album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions and the tour that followed. That’s roughly the same amount of time as between Bruce’s early 1970 Steel Mill audition for Bill Graham in San Francisco and the release of Born in the U.S.A. (Join me in an unspoken but no less mortified “Yikes!”)
Springsteen’s foray into traditional music is named in homage to legendary folk-music activist Pete Seeger, with whom he had a fond relationship. Bruce was on tour in South Africa when Seeger passed in 2014 at the age of 94. “I lost a great friend and hero last night,” Bruce told the crowd. “We’re humbled to be here tonight in the land of Mandela, a great freedom fighter. We are here tonight in his grace, because he made it possible for us to be here. Pete, back home, was a very courageous freedom fighter also.”
We Shall Overcome surveys the kind of American folk standards popularized by Seeger. The project’s musical approach is often full-on hootenanny, with Bruce backed by a large, loose ensemble of musicians playing with instinct, spontaneity, and just the right amount of reverence. The Sessions Band tour followed a similar blueprint, expanding song selections to include additional folk and roots classics, as well as Springsteen originals re-arranged in kindred styles.
Whether you love folk music or merely appreciate its importance and influence, Bruce’s live performances of that music with this band were undeniably infectious and entertaining. Part of that was down to the man himself seeming as happy as he had ever been on stage, energized by painting with a completely different palette, performing with new companions and a few friendly faces.
The Seeger Sessions album and tour happened in the midst of a fruitful period for Bruce, who released and toured behind Devils & Dust the year before, and would issue and tour in support of Magic a year later and beyond, followed quickly by the same game plan for Working on a Dream. It was an impressive flurry of activity, and because Seeger Sessions was a one-off, perhaps it hasn’t received a deserved reappreciation.
We know it remains near and dear to Bruce. Earlier this year he blessed the YouTube release of the entire New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival performance from April 2006, the first show of the Seeger Sessions tour and one Springsteen cites in this autobiography as among his most meaningful shows ever.
Jazz Fest was also released in the Archive series, providing a fine document of the tour’s early stages. The official Live in Dublin culls highlights from three shows at the end of the tour. To those bookends we add London 11/11/06, which offers the first complete performance from the end of the Seeger run and includes a number of setlist variations to New Orleans and Dublin.
We commence with a show-opening throwback to Bruce’s first single, “Blinded By the Light.” When Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. was released in early 1973, more than a few critics characterized it as folk rock, making its inclusion here all the more fitting. That being said, while I’m no musicologist, the style in which it is performed here suggests File Under Klezmer.
The first half of the London show offers a satisfying mix of high-spirited songs from the album (“Old Man Tucker,” “Jesse James,” “Mrs. McGrath”), some of its weightier material (“Eyes on the Prize,” “Erie Canal,” “O Mary Don’t You Weep”) and Seegerized, story-rich Springsteen originals.
To wit: “Atlantic City” is transformed into a murder ballad rave-up; “Growin’ Up” is appealingly re-arranged with country flourishes and a bit of Dylan influence, too; and “Open All Night” gets something of a juke-joint makeover. The new arrangements cast all three in fresh light that expands our appreciation for each song. “Devils & Dust (which does not appear on the New Orleans or Dublin releases) hues closer to the original arrangement, but it draws upon the chorus of voices in the Sessions band, led by Curtis King and Soozie Tyrell, yielding a beautiful and poignant result.
Late in the show, Springsteen thanks the crowd for “taking a chance on [our] experiment here,” his characterization of the entire Seeger Sessions project. On this night he took that spirit one step further by debuting a brand new song.
The night before his first London show, Springsteen went to see Lucinda Williams play at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, joining her on stage for two songs. Inspired by her performance of unreleased material, the next night Bruce pulls out one of his own work-in-progress originals, introduced as “Gonna Be a Long Walk Home.”
“She was brave because she played all these new songs,” Springsteen tells the Wembley audience. “Between my whoring and drinking, when I come home after that, I sit up in the hotel room occasionally and I try to write.”
The premiere of “Long Walk Home,” a one-off on the 2006 tour, features a number of lyric variations and extra lines compared to the version eventually released on Magic a year later. The final verse of this unique performance includes a sober couplet on the state of America that feels even more relevant today: “Now the water’s rising ’round the corner, there’s a fire burning out of control / There’s a hurricane on Main Street and I’ve got murder in my soul.”
That kind of risk-taking and the enthusiasm for reinterpreting one’s own work are hallmarks of the Seeger Sessions tour, as is the pure, unbridled joy of the performances. London 11/11/06 captures those qualities marvelously.
By Ben Blackwell, The White Stripes’ official archivist
I must admit I have some difficulty writing about White Stripes shows that I wasn’t in the room for. My insight, my drive, my perspective is so driven by the experience. But this performance at the Sit & Spin (or is it Sit ‘n’ Spin…I’ve seen it both ways and it drives me crazy) from December 2000 is just one of those gigs that, even though I wasn’t there for, having listened to the tape for almost twenty years it’s locked into my psyche as a barn-burner.
First off, some details…the White Stripes played two shows at the Sit & Spin on this day. There was an earlier, all-ages show to accommodate minors who’d otherwise be left out due to Seattle’s draconian liquor and live performance laws, and a later one that same night, 21 and up performance.
Funny thing is…we don’t know which of those two shows this recording is from! If I was forced to guess, I’d imagine the later one, but I don’t have anything concrete to back that up. Just a hunch I guess.
Jack and Meg start the show with an impromptu jam. Totally made up on the spot and never to be heard from again. And honestly, for me, I think it’s bonkers good. Just the thick, muscly Jack White Airline guitar tone that was front and center in that era, power chords riffing, Meg kicking ass keeping time, lyrics a garbled mess all except for the barely discernible “Back to School” which we’ve felt was an appropriate a title as could exist for this one.
Everything else performed here feels just as sublime, rare outings for both “Slicker Drips” and “Sister, Do You Know My Name?” delight while a downright volatile run on “Hello Operator” invigorates. Jack even calls out a journalist from local weekly the Stranger in his introduction to “Truth Doesn’t Make A Noise” using the writer’s own words to introduce the tune as a “sketch of a great song.” Asking the crowd for requests and actually following through on someone’s shouting of “Astro” is unabashedly quaint here. And tying it all together with a solo rendition of “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” to end the set is a fitting audio denouement for what stands as one of the best live recordings of the band from this year.
For those of us fortunate enough to have seen many Bruce Springsteen concerts and multiple tours, particular shows stand out for any number of reasons, from the people with whom we attended to favorite songs that made the setlist that night. But the most indelible memories often come down to a special, unexpected moment.
Prior to this show, Bruce hadn’t played “Incident on 57th Street” since December 29, 1980, a gap of nearly 19 years, and a performance that itself proved to be a one-off on the original River tour. Hell, the song only got played five times on the Darkness tour. Three decades later, the Reunion tour became a catalyst for the revival of many dormant classics, none more beloved or longed for than “Incident.”
I can only imagine the tears of joy and quivering chins that sprang forth when Springsteen commenced his sixth and final show in Philadelphia with this magisterial reading of “Incident on 57th Street.” I would have been a puddle, overwhelmed by the caliber of the performance. While he would go on to play the song three additional times on the Reunion tour and revisit it on special occasions ever since, if Philadelphia ‘99 had been the song’s only modern airing, it would be held in the same regard as the officially released one from Nassau ‘80.
Despite a long show the night before at the Spectrum (unfortunately not recorded on multi-track due to the venue change for the rescheduled date), 9/25//‘99 finds Bruce in particularly strong voice. On “Incident,” he finds a connection to those vintage versions, singing with real passion, taking his time and sending the song soaring. The E Street Band is also up to the task, needing but that day’s soundcheck to nail the epic. The performance of “Incident” is not a recreation (listen to the fresh edge on the guitar tone) but a thrilling revival of one of Bruce’s early classics.
Springsteen’s vocal prowess continues and the versions of “The Ties That Bind” and “Prove It All Night” that follow ring particularly true across the board: singing, playing, intention. There are already great Reunion shows in the Archive Series, but Philadelphia ‘99 will sound fresher than you expect, as new details jump forth. For example, Jon Altschiller’s sonorous stereo mix treats us to a fantastic Stevie and Bruce vocal exchange on “Prove It.”
The show’s first half runs from strength to strength, with peak Reunion takes of “Two Hearts,” “Atlantic City” and “Factory.” “Point Blank” arrives with a captivating organ and saxophone intro in what is its first Reunion tour performance released in the Archive Series. “Point Blank” is not a song you think of as a Clarence Clemons showcase, but his textures start the song on an appropriately unsettling note, and later, Steve’s guitar solo is similarly edged.
“Youngstown,” “Murder Incorporated,” “Badlands,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” (which also bears some tasty fret work from Van Zandt) are strong as they were night after night in 1999, with “Tenth” dropping in on “Red Headed Woman” and a very sweet verse and chorus from The Temptations’ “My Girl.”
The party atmosphere extends with “a little last taste of summer for you,” “Sherry Darling,” another showcase for the musical and vocal chops of the E Street Band who are in collective top form.
The tone shifts movingly with the first full-band performance of “Streets of Philadelphia” in its namesake city. The modern Springsteen masterpiece is beautifully rendered, Van Zandt’s background vocals adding richness.
The evening enters the rarified status of hosting not one but two circa 1973 epics, with “New York City Serenade” (itself only recently revived after a 24-year slumber), delivered in stunning fashion in what might be its strongest ‘99 performance. Each E Streeter wraps themselves in musical glory: Stop it Stevie. Stop it Big Man. Stop it Roy. You’re killing us with your melodic beauty.
The set winds down in largely expected fashion, but Philadelphia ‘99 does add two additional songs to the Reunion tour Archive roster. Clarence Clemons’ great night extends to his most famous saxophone solo in “Jungleland,” which is spot on. I can’t imagine the band has played “Jungleland” better than this in the modern era. The other new addition is the show-closer, “Raise Your Hand,” played as the pure soul classic it is and celebrating the band-fan bond that Philadelphia has offered since the very beginning.
If you’re looking at Philadelphia ‘99 and thinking it is “only” 22 songs long, remember six of those tracks top the ten-minute mark on this night of epic performances. I’ve heard longer Reunion tour shows, but I’ve never heard stronger.
On Saturday, August 7, 2010, Phish played the final show of a sold-out three-night stand at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA. The bar was set high with the previous two shows and expectations soared. The 2010 Greek run found the band reaching higher each night, basking in the glow of this historic venue and attentive crowd. The show opened with an old school pairing of AC/DC Bag > Foam followed by Gotta Jibboo – all played with the same patient, open approach displayed over the previous shows. Next came a soaring Reba as Trey’s new guitar emitted a flow of pretty leads and staccato runs amidst Page’s intricate Rhodes runs. 2010’s last Sleep Again and Army Of One provided a moment of reflection before a sizzling 46 Days > Tube. Mike held Tube’s last bass note, providing the bridge to a sing-a-long Character Zero to end set I.
After another sunset over the San Francisco Bay, the band kicked off set II with Wilson > Light. The Greek Light climbed to pinnacle heights, bending and floating to a sublime place before resolving into The Golden State’s first Twenty Years Later. Harry Hood followed, with ghost notes on a second snare drum, press rolls, and percussion wizardry from Fish while the music hung in the night air and reverberated across the Greek’s open bowl. Theme From The Bottom came next and then they shook the trees with 2001 > Suzy Greenberg and a spacious Slave To The Traffic Light. The first The Lizards encore in nearly fifteen years came next and First Tube put the finishing touch on an incredible three days of music at one of the most stunning spots there is.
Today we’ve added legendary performances from one of the greatest rock bands of all time to our catalog. The Who are now available in the nugs.net app and on our web player. Fans can enjoy three timeless shows that drop them into the crowd in 1970, 1980, and 2015. Here’s everything you need to know about these classic shows.
Filmed on June 26, 2015 as The Who celebrated their 50th anniversary, this stunning show with 65,000 fans in attendance at London’s famous Hyde Park is a triumphant return to their home city. This massive event formed a fitting culmination to The Who’s 50th anniversary celebrations and the set includes classics like “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Pictures Of Lily,” “I Can’t Explain,” “You Better You Bet,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Join Together,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “I Can See For Miles,” and many more! This grand scale concert, complete with huge screens surrounding the stage and an exceptional light show, holds true to Pete Townshend’s promise at the start of the set: “You’re a long way away…but we will reach you!”.
The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Kenney Jones) delivered both classic tracks and rarely performed songs: “Pinball Wizard,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “My Generation,” “Substitute,” “Who Are You,” “I Can’t Explain,” “See Me Feel Me,” “Baba O’Riley,” and many more. The tour promoted the 1982 album It’s Hard and the set list was comprised of several tracks from that album, some of which the band would only play live on this tour. The Who’s 1982 North American tour was their last to feature Kenney Jones on drums and the band did not tour again until 1989. This concert film features the show from the second of their two nights at New York’s Shea Stadium and was filmed on October 13th 1982.
This new edition of Murray Lerner’s film of The Who’s legendary performance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival features newly restored pictures and remixed sound to finally give this amazing concert the quality release it deserves. Accept no substitute and play it loud! The tracklist includes:
1) Heaven And Hell 2) I Can’t Explain 3) Young Man Blues 4) I Don’t Even Know Myself 5) Water 6) Medley: Shakin’ All Over / Spoonful / Twist And Shout 7) Summertime Blues 8) My Generation 9) Magic Bus
From “Tommy”: 10) Overture 11) It’s A Boy 12) Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker) 13) Christmas 14) The Acid Queen 15) Pinball Wizard 16) Do You Think It’s Alright 17) Fiddle About 18) Go To The Mirror 19) Miracle Cure 20) I’m Free 21) We’re Not Gonna Take It 22) See Me Feel Me / Listening To You 23) Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Many nations can lay claim to being Bruce Springsteen’s second home or adopted country. Italy has a strong case, given the ancestral roots of Bruce’s mother Adele (maiden name Zerilli) and a history of special shows that took place there, particularly in Milano. England is in the conversation too, with an incredible run of concerts dating back to 1975, and the passion of Spanish fans is well documented on Live in Barcelona. Australia may be a latecomer, but there’s no denying the love affair between Bruce and the land down under that played out in two major tours in 2014 and 2017.
Yet it would be hard to deny Sweden the symbolic honor of first among equals. Sverige’s history with Springsteen also dates back to 1975, when it was one of three markets Springsteen played on a brief European sojourn on the Born to Run tour. But the special relationship really starts with a pair of shows inside the very building in which this Devils & Dust performance takes place. Then called Johanneshovs Isstadion, the venue was the site of two legendary nights on the 1981 European leg of the River tour, memorialized on the famous vinyl bootlegs Follow That Dream and Teardrops on the City.
Four years later, Gothenburg cemented its place in the narrative with two dates at Springsteen’s home away from home in Sweden, Ullevi Stadium. Legend has it the passionate response of fans in Ullevi actually caused structural damage to the building in ‘85, and Springsteen has played the stadium nine times since that human rumble took its toll. Throw in the 1988 radio broadcast from Stockholms Stadion, the Tom Joad tour at Cirkus, and many other celebrated gigs, and the case is quite compelling. The country’s passion for Springsteen never wanes. Case in point: He sold out three stadium shows in Gothenburg alone in 2016, where it would appear he is as popular now as he was in 1985.
You can hear the special bond with Bruce’s Swedish fans on Stockholm 2005. Jon Altschiller’s mix showcases the audience-artist dynamic and the interplay between the two that makes live performance so special and so missed in these times of social isolation.
One element that made the Devils & Dust tour so bewitching was ever-changing setlists. At nearly every stop, Bruce dusted off a few songs that had been sitting on the shelf awhile and added them to a common core. In Stockholm, he opens with the tour debut of “Downbound Train,” hearkening back to those Ullevi ’85 shows. Boldly, the second song of the night is one of the highlights of that common core, “Reason to Believe.” Springsteen completely reimagined the song on this tour, transforming “Reason to Believe” into a Delta blues stomper with his inventive use of the bullet microphone.
Bullet mics are designed for harmonicas, with intentionally limited frequency range (usually cutting anything above 5,000 khz) and distortion. For his new take on “Reason to Believe,” Bruce played harmonica and sang his vocals through the bullet mic, distorting his voice and crunching down the sound to an eerily narrow slice.
The result sounds like an otherworldly transmission from the Crossroads or a lost Bluebird 78 RPM record spinning in the past. Rearranging his own songs is something Springsteen has excelled at going all the way back to “E Street Shuffle,” but this radical and riveting “Reason to Believe” is one of his most memorable and a standout every night of the Devils & Dust tour.
“Empty Sky” from The Rising had a second act on the tour as well, making close to two dozen appearances. The mournful tale rides Springsteen’s percussive acoustic guitar and focused vocals. Two guitar songs follow, the heartfelt parental reflection “Long Time Comin’,” which gains poignancy when Springsteen sings off-microphone, and the least-played track from Devils & Dust, “Black Cowboys,” which made 16 setlists in 2005.
Bruce moves to the keys for a rare outing of “The Promise,” in its first ever performance in Sweden. What a moment that must have been for diehard fans, five years before it became the title of the Darkness on the Edge of Town box set. We go down to “The River” on piano as well, with a striking prelude that starts with a single note, builds, swells and then settles solemnly before Bruce sings the evocative first lines.
Though it had been a standard feature on the Tunnel of Love Express tour, Bruce’s entertaining evolution tale, “Part Man, Part Monkey,” had its own second life on the Devils & Dust tour, a narrative befitting the candor Bruce was expressing about human behavior in story and song during the shows, sometimes in deeply contrasting ways. Several Link Wray guitar turns only add to the appeal.
“All I’m Thinking About” is an underrated charmer. Sung in a faltering falsetto, it’s a series of sweet, real-life snapshots (little boys carrying fishing poles, little girls picking huckleberries) set to a simple chorus of devotion (or obsession?). Two songs later in “Reno,” fishing poles and blueberries give way to a price list of front and back door sexual access. Damn.
Snuck in between (no pun intended) is “Across the Border,” played for the first time since the Joad tour, augmented with a rich, accordion-like harmonica. You’d never know Springsteen hadn’t played it in so long, his reading is faultless.
Over to the irresistible eclectic piano we go for “Point Blank,” sounding more haunting and knowing than ever, then a true gift, “Walk Like a Man,” making its second archive appearance this year. Springsteen starts it on electric piano (not unlike the arrangement of “Tunnel of Love” from the previously released Grand Rapids 2005 show) and it unfolds warmly. It’s interesting to note that when he last played the song in 1988, he had no children of his own. Singing it here, Bruce is son and father. The song’s gravitas rises for the final verse as Bruce switches to full piano and the arrangement grows richer and more confident. What a gift to have two incredible live versions in our hands now.
That theme of fatherhood is enhanced with the piano pairing of “Walk Like a Man” with “My Hometown” in a powerful, straight-ahead reading where every line rings true. With that, the first half of the show concludes and we move back to guitar for “The Rising” and an intense take of “Lucky Town,” with Bruce strumming his acoustic with physicality and conviction like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” at the 1990 Christic Institute performances.
The back nine of the show rides his conviction to excellent performances of a trio of story songs, “This Hard Land,” “The Hitter,” and “Matamoros Banks.” One might go so far as to call “The Hitter” the closest thing to an unpublished screenplay Springsteen has penned since “Highway Patrolman” and until Western Stars, where it could have slotted in nicely. As character studies go, it is one of his finest.
As he does so masterfully, Springsteen rounds the bend and lightens the mood with a storming, Seeger-ized “Ramrod,” Dylan-ized “Bobby Jean” and a true-blue “Blinded By the Light,” making its Scandinavian premiere 32 years after its release.
The show wraps with the soul-stirring Devils & Dust tour pairing of “The Promised Land” and a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream,” both offered in meditative, at times mantra-like arrangements. In “Dream Baby Dream,” the words “keep on dreaming” and “I just want to see you smile” sink into our subconscious, floating on dark-cloud organ notes that brighten as they turn towards heaven. Given the genuine dark clouds that so many of us are weathering, the spiritual power of the “Dream Baby Dream” mantra may provide genuine solace.
We’re back with another edition of our Staff Picks series, highlighting the favorite songs and shows from our nugs.net team members. This third volume comes from our stream technician, Jacob Lima. Over the past year, Jacob’s been all over the world working to beam shows to your living room. Take a peek at his favorite shows from across the years.
So I’ll start off this list with one of my favorite recent shows. Talk about a Denver barn burner.. this show was it! With most Colorado shows ending well before the 2 AM state-mandated liquor curfew, when Goose came on at about 11:30 PM everyone was ready for a standard Cervante’s Other Side 90 minute set, but what we got was a screaming two-set show going well past 3 AM. Wasting no time and starting off with a killer Madhuvan they carried the energy not just through the entire night but for the rest of their four-night Colorado run as well!
I have always been a huge fan of Artifact and believe the album encapsulates perfect jamtronica harmony, with the post Artifact years being my favorite STS9 era. While I was tempted to pick any show from the amazing 5 night run at Boulder Theater, also in 2007, I’d say this is my personal favorite tribe show ever! Starting off the night with Interplanetary Escape Vehicle in its entirety, unbeknownst to the audience, the last time early Tribe staples HB Walks To School and Quests would be played live, this show is full of Sector 9 classics from start to finish.
An instant favorite since the first moment I heard these guys, almost any of their shows would fit this list. I’ve been lucky enough to catch them more than a few times and have never left a show short of mesmerized. Acoustic guitarist Billy Strings has the classic bluegrass chops to pick with the likes of Del McCoury and John Grisman, and then jam with Widespread Panic the next day.. talk about spectrum. His shows are the way.
Coming in hot into Boulder Theater directly after headlining Red Rocks, the monster Hangover encore from this show is not to be missed. One of my all-time favorite Umphrey’s songs, and still the best version I’ve heard to date, closed out a fantastic 2 night Colorado performance. I love a long noodly jam as much as the next guy.. but this ain’t it. Hangover highlights Umphrey’s ability to change time signatures on a dime with no less than five changes in this six-minute song.
Any time Sam Bush and Cheese get together, especially on a Sunday, you know you’re in for a good time, and this show does not disappoint. The Whiskey Before Breakfast and Lonesome Fiddle Blues > North Plains Jam > Lonesome Fiddle Blues from Set I are some great examples of some nice Cheesy bluegrass with the Rivertrance from Set II also showcasing the spacey jam side of Cheese.
The Jeff Austin years of Yonder will always hold a special place in my heart and while all the shows from this five-night run were amazing I’m gonna have to pick the NYE show as it contains a great Half Moon Rising and a killer rendition of New Speedway Boogie to close out the run. Oh and did I mention Darol Agner sat in on fiddle for the ENTIRE show??
I joined the Dead & Company family this year and hopped on tour with these guys to facilitate all the live video streams and my favorite moment of 2019 is a flub. You heard me right. Although I don’t pick this moment for the musicianship of the band, but for what it says about us, the fans. I think Deadheads and other jamband fans, at least in general, are a pretty open-minded, relaxed, accepting bunch. If you spend any time on the Internet forums you might have a different opinion but in-person jam shows are like Olive Garden, when you’re here you’re family. And how do these fans react when the band they hold to very high esteem makes a huge glaring error and has to completely restart a rare Box of Rain? With one of the loudest cheers, I heard all year. It’s a perfect metaphor for the mentality of (in my humble opinion) one of the coolest music fan groups. Understanding that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, but we’re also all in this together and being loving and accepting of your fellow man, warts and all, is one of life’s true kernels of meaning.
Subscribers can listen to highlight’s from Jacob’s picks in the nugs.net app!
May’s Third Man Thursday is here just in time for the holiday weekend with a very special release. Oberlin 2000 was a cornerstone moment for The White Stripes and now the transformative show is available to stream in the nugs.net app. Ben Blackwell, The White Stripes’ official archivist returns this month with a recap of the show below.
We left Cincinnati later than we should have. A visit to Shake-It Records looms large in my memory and we definitely rolled straight to the club, Dionysus. On the campus of Oberlin College and apparently run by the students there, what could be an easy target to shit on is actually pretty damn cool. I mean, hell, the college I was enrolled in that semester wasn’t booking Sleater-Kinney.
The show itself still sticks out as one of the most transformative the White Stripes EVER played. Like if there was ever so clearly a “before” and “after” moment in the history of the White Stripes live shows, I’d push the pin firmly into the date September 16th, 2000.
I don’t recall the crowds the previous two nights (Chicago and Newport, KY) necessarily “getting” the Stripes. Sure, the performances were solid, folks may have even picked up on it a little, but they were big rooms, law of averages probably explains it. But at Dionysus, man, it’s a small room, maybe 400 capacity, and with a low stage, the space felt like a basement…hot and sweaty, probably not being utilized for its intended use and primarily populated with kids who’ve got NOTHING better to do. Receptors open, transmissions receiving…just give ’em something worthwhile and the response will be wild.
Watching from the merch table at the back of the room, you could feel the band take off. The show starts off interestingly enough (can’t ever recall “Your Southern Can Is Mine” appearing so early in a set) and from around “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” onward, its as if afterburners are on full throttle, every move just of-the-moment and powerful and important and happening right in front of your face.
After futzing around for months, the fuzz feedback mainline of “Dead Leaves” is finally firmly established in the way all would come to know and love it. “Death Letter” is the raucous rail-splitter while the placid verses of “Stop Breaking Down” achieve the song a tempered duality as leveraged by the absolute savage slide of the choruses, while the uncharacteristic off mic screaming in “One More Cup of Coffee” has you realize that mind-bending covers of Son House, Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan poured out one after the other in rapid succession, a most holy trinity of White Stripes heroes if there ever was one.
From “Astro” forward…there’s so evidently a transcendent musical connection between the two entities on stage, of the same brain, taking action without thought, a Darwinian evolution that should crawl across millennia transpiring in matter of mere minutes. On a Saturday night. In Ohio.
Listening back now, nearly 20 years later, it STILL gives me goosebumps. The way “Jack the Ripper” (a song they’d goofed on a handful of times previously) melts into “Farmer John” (a song they’d NEVER previously goofed on) and straight into, hands-down, the best version of “St. James Infirmary” the band would ever perform and arguably epicenter of the aforementioned “before” and “after” designations.
To lay ears to the recording now is to hear “St. James” evolving in real time as an arrangement heretofore unknown, just exploratory explosive accents primally bashing away as entree to the song, unrecognizable from its released version, pummeling inauspiciously into the first verse, Jack’s voice rich, full, expressive, like a vase holding ten thousand orchids hand-painted by O’Keeffe. Then completely out of left-field, Jack offers the second verse double time, damn near jazzy or show tune(ful), humbly paying respect to the roots of this Cab Calloway composition. In my recollection of the evening, I feel like I was holding my breath at this moment. As if to ask, timidly, scared, fearful of failure or catastrophic collapse “can they do it?” And wildly, with abandon, Meg is RIGHT there with him, never missing a beat for the next TWO verses. Weeks, days, shit a half HOUR early this would have been impossible. The chops were not there, the telekinetic o-mind wavelength was, previously, nonexistent. And without ever telegraphing the move, out of nowhere, Jack calls verse four back to the explosive accents, half-time, reigning it in with a delightful smirk, at this point completely showing off how shit hot he and Meg are. Just making it up as they go at this point, verse five crosses back to double time, the intensity somehow amplified, improbably kicked up a few notches and culminating into one solitary, strong expositional statement, like a goddamned full-body statue of Teddy Roosevelt, arm outstretched, pointing, confidently, ready to decimate whatever gets in the way. And that, you little maniacs, is when the White Stripes first hit that apex, as if levitating, where they could do no wrong. Exquisite beauty. The reason we are all here today.
A few songs later and unexpectedly, Jack just starts making shit up off the top of his head. We’ve labeled it “Keep On Walking (improv)” here and that, again, you lucky freaks, is the first time the White Stripes ever just made something up in front of a crowd. Said approach would be responsible for some of my personal favorite moments from the band (including “Little Cream Soda” even though I wasn’t even there to witness it in person) and straight into “Screwdriver.” Jack teases, if only for a moment, the drawn out and confrontational manner of both the MC5’s “I Just Don’t Know” and the Gories “48 Hours” and yet somehow builds upon it. Goes further. Creates distance. Catches nirvana.
Leaving the stage after said culmination, you can hear the crowd just losing it. Apeshit. The opening act, who almost certainly no one there even knew of prior to this evening. EVERYONE was urging them to return for an encore, including the members of Sleater-Kinney, who were all but pushing Jack and Meg back onstage. Really, truly, this never happens, it should never happen, yet witnesses to history and this tape prove, “Let’s Build a Home” just smokes before the tape runs out in a brief moment of Basinski-esque disintegration.
I’m a bastard when it comes to hyperbole…I HATE when people blow shit out of proportion. I don’t have time for it. But I honestly do not think the White Stripes ever played a more perfect show. Yeah Manaus ’05 was bonkers, Tasmania ’06 is electrifying, Mississippi ’07 brings tears, Detroit Institute of Arts, Peel sessions…there’s no shortage of GREAT shows with this band. But ones where everything clicks. Where the band is almost a visage in hyper-speed while their surroundings are but props calcified in amber, where it feels like the incalculable number of nerve endings of every last synapse of every living being in the world were all connected onstage that night…well, damn, Oberlin it is. Because while those other shows may carry more emotion, may explore further depths of the catalog, or engaged multiples of more fans…September 16th, 2000 was the catalyst that enabled all of them to ever happen.
This being our fourth year on wonderful Jam Cruise, and with two sets every year, we were eager to mix things up this time around. We decided we wanted to cover something really special, but not too obvious. Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome has been a long time favorite album for Taylor, and then in turn for the rest of us over the years.
We decided ahead of time that this would be a great opportunity to get other musicians involved and do a “Turkuaz and Friends” type thing, which we almost never do. So basically we just called up a bunch of friends to do it (Karl Denson, Robert Walter and basically the entire amazing band, Ghost Note). What we didn’t realize was that the specifics and complicated nature of each song was by far the hardest cover material we’d ever learned. So many random horn lines, harmonies, things that happen 12 times, and then 5 the next, and then 17 the next. Damn near impossible to get everything right. But we practiced a bunch with our own band, and really learned the tunes to a high level of detail. Then as it got closer we thought – “man, without a rehearsal with our guests – this is gonna get interesting!” Spoiler – everyone did an amazing job, guests and band alike. So kudos to them on that! As far as winging some things and just letting it happen how it happened – It just wouldn’t be proper tribute to Parliament if it weren’t a little bit sloppy, chaotic and crazy up there. As Robert said after the show, “that was perfect, especially in it’s imperfection.” And it was a really special moment for all of us.
Oh, and we also decided not to tell anyone what we were doing and let it be a surprise. It simply said “Turkuaz and Friends – Mystery Album”. We were keeping it under wraps, but needed to try and squeeze in a quick run through.
So we sealed the doors of the theater, for the very brief (10 minute) rehearsal we had the day of the show. Thinking no one could hear what we were doing, we started playing the first song “Bop Gun” with Karl. All of a sudden, we look up and Ivan Neville is running down from the theater entrance towards the stage and ran up to the piano and started playing. He said something like “sorry to crash the party, but I mean… Bop Gun? I just had to get involved”.
Sure enough, Ivan returned for the set and became a last minute special guest. Nikki Glaspie showed up side stage during the set, and started swapping back and forth with Sput on second drum kit. Not to mention – the rest of Ghost Note were all dressed in animal costumes and had smiles on their face that seemed to imply some sort of out of body experience was happening (you can fill in the blanks yourself for what may have been going on there). Everyone played great and after the show, Sly from Ghost Note said that during the set he had experienced “the best moment of his whole life”. I’d say that’s pretty satisfying to hear from an incredible musician like him. It proved to be something that the whole boat seemed quite high off of for the following couple of days. It remains one of our favorite undertakings and sets to this day. And now we’re premiering the audio for the first time here on nugs.net Hope you enjoy (warning – it gets weird!).
I was 15 years old in the summer of 1981. My friend Marc had just turned 16 and obtained his driver’s license. The previous October, my father took Marc and me to the Seattle Center Coliseum to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and that changed everything.
My parents subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine, which ran a Random Notes item that Springsteen would be doing a return leg of the River tour over the summer. With only that single data point to go on in the pre-Internet days, Marc and I would get up early and drive to the local mall every Sunday in June and July to see if, by chance, a line had formed and Springsteen tickets were going on sale. The Seattle ’80 show had gone up with no prior warning on a Sunday morning. We figured, better safe than sorry.
A Seattle ’81 show never materialized, but the story illustrates the heightened levels of anticipation for Springsteen’s summer return. If Marc and I were going to all that trouble in hopes of getting tickets to a Seattle concert that was never even contemplated, imagine what it must have been like in New Jersey when it was announced that Bruce and the E Street Band would christen the newly constructed Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford with a six-show stand to kick off their post-Europe victory lap.
Though only 32 dates in total, the Summer ’81 tour is one of the most celebrated in Springsteen’s long performance history. The epic-length sets of the previous winter had tightened up, giving the shows a sharper focus. The summer run also came after Springsteen’s first extended tour of Europe, an inflection point in his musical development that, with the introduction of three vital new songs to the set, brought with it the first indications of where his music might be going.
East Rutherford 7/9/81 is the final night of the Brendan Byrne run and a moment of culmination for Springsteen and the E Street Band. Their confidence and a new sense of purpose developed on the stages and streets of Europe drives this outstanding performance, and the audience is there to meet them. Even when Bruce assays new songs, the crowd sounds fully on board. Listen to the sympathetic clapping they add to “Follow That Dream”; the live archive version from London a month earlier has no audience participation at all.
The 7/9/81 show wastes no time getting to the meat of the matter, opening with “Thunder Road” into “Prove It All Night” and “The Ties That Bind.” Playing his sixth show in nine nights, Bruce’s voice needs a little warming up at the start, but his passion is already dialed in at 10. By “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Bruce and the band lock into gold medal form, and the song spotlights Stevie Van Zandt’s critical vocal contributions in this era.
“Follow That Dream” is the first of the new songs, all three of which blur the line between cover song reinterpretations and originals. The Elvis Presley reinvention retains its stark, meditative arrangement debuted in Europe and closes on one of the most disquieting, chilling notes in the Springsteen catalog.
“Follow That Dream” has an especially curious place in the canon in that it feels like an extremely significant song in Bruce’s evolution as a songwriter, despite having never had an official studio release (it was recorded for Born in the U.S.A. in 1983). It’s only been performed 15 times since the Bridge School Benefit in 1986, but it shows up in every decade, as recently as Australia 2017, the last E Street Tour to date. Is there a more meaningful unreleased song?
Carrying on, “Independence Day” revisits Springsteen’s father-son narrative, but this time with a new chapter recognizing the need to say the things that need to be said, now, while there’s still time. The sentiment couldn’t be more timely in the Covid-19 era.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain” has never sounded bigger or bolder than this terrific rendition, and Jon Altschiller’s mix offers incredible instrument separation. The acoustic and electric guitar interplay is marvelous — and listen for the electric to kick in again, quite thrillingly, five seconds into “Two Hearts.” What a great version. The same can be said for “The Promised Land,” as heightened vocal phrasing brings the song to another level.
There’s an intriguing break in the mood as Bruce begins the harmonica intro to “This Land Is Your Land” only to be interrupted by the explosion of a firecracker (heard clearly in the right channel). Condemnation is immediate. “Whoever just threw that firecracker, you can do me a big fucking favor and don’t do it,” he says with total convinction. “Whoever you are, you are no friend of mine. This is a song about that respect; it’s about having respect for yourself, for the land that you live in.” Pure conviction powers Springsteen through the daunting take of “The River” that comes next as he attempts to reset following the firecracker, leading to one of the highlights of the night — if not the whole of the 1981 tour.
Word of this incredible new song “Trapped” had even reached me on the other side of the country (again, likely through Rolling Stone). I had to hear it. Through the magic of mail order, I bought a bootleg LP called Prisoner of Rock and Roll that included “Trapped,” and I was gobsmacked. The simple start, the build, the intensity, the crescendo, then again and AGAIN, with the final release coming as Springsteen shouts “I’M TRAPPED” and the last note sustains. Mesmerizing and unlike any Springsteen song that had come before it.
“Trapped” is a cover (originally recorded by Jimmy Cliff), not an original. Cliff’s lyrics are basically intact, and fundamental melodic elements are there, too. But how Springsteen listened to this and developed the arrangement he performs in New Jersey is the alchemy of a musical genius. Hearing the song in this context—following the firecracker incident, “This Land Is Your Land” and a tentative “The River”—“Trapped” offers unmistakable catharsis.
Set one wraps with a high energy “Out in the Street” and full-tilt “Badlands,” rich with Van Zandt vocal accents, Roy Bittan piano, and plenty of Max Weinberg propulsion.
East Rutherford 7/9/81 is marked by its new songs, but it was also a summer Shore party as the second set makes clear. The festivities begin with “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch),” replete with some interesting lyrical additions where our protagonist is “going downtown, gonna buy a gun.” Love the guitar mix on this one.
From there, bang bang into “Cadillac Ranch,” Bruce’s ultimate party song “Sherry Darling,” and “Hungry Heart” (with the audience taking the first verse capably) before we’re treated to a guest appearance. Gary U.S. Bonds, whose Springsteen-Van Zandt-produced album Dedication was released that April, duets with Bruce on the traditional “Jolé Blon” (which Springsteen introduced to his own sets in the UK), and Bonds takes the lead vocal on his hit single, the Springsteen original “This Little Girl.”
The third and final new song of the show, “Johnny Bye Bye” follows. Bruce offers a eulogistic rumination on Elvis Presley to introduce the song, which, like “Follow That Dream,” draws potency from its spare arrangement. It is a compassionate farewell to The King. Paired together, “Racing in the Street” extends the elegiac sentiment in a resplendent reading led by Bittan on piano.
Time to party. “Ramrod” low rides into an extra playful “Rosalita,” as Clarence Clemons set the scene with the opening lines from Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee”: “The night was clear, and the moon was yellow. And the leaves came tumblinggggggggg.” Band intros are on point, accented by tasty Stevie guitar licks throughout and concluding, of course, with The Big Man himself, who Bruce posits could be the next Governor of New Jersey. “Sounds like a good idea. Clarence Clemons Arena, I like that,” he says, referencing the new arena named for Governor Byrne. All of which leads to “Spotlight on the Big Man” and its brief vamp on “Sweet Soul Music.”
For the encore, the most Bruce Springsteen song Bruce didn’t write, “Jersey Girl.” This performance of the Tom Waits classic is the one that would be officially released as the b-side to “Cover Me” three years later, but I don’t recall that mix bringing Van Zandt’s guitar so charmingly to the fore. A superb “Jungleland” accompanies, with sublime soloing from Stevie and Clarence, along with a pacey “Born to Run” with Bruce soaring for “girl I’m just a scared and lonely rider.”
The New Jersey homecoming wraps with an extended “Detroit Medley” which takes several exciting detours as it careens along the turnpike. The first is “I Hear a Train,” then a rare romp through Mitch Ryder’s “Sock It To Me, Baby!” (written by Bob Crewe and Russell Brown), another scoop of Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music,” and finally a generous slice of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” in what might constitute the best “Detroit Medley” ever.
The phrase “giving the people their money’s worth” would be an apt description for the final night at Brendan Byrne Arena 39 years ago. Now, it is time to return the favor. All net proceeds from the sale of the East Rutherford 7/9/81 will be donated to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.
After crossing, un-crossing, and re-crossing the Canadian border a few days earlier, Wilco undertook a week-long stay on the Great White North side of things in early July 2006. This jaunt featured the introduction of two additional songs from the forthcoming “Sky Blue Sky” album (a third song, “Walken,” had already been in the repertoire for over a year), as well as a(nother) new arrangement of Spiders (Kidsmoke).
This particular show from The Playhouse features an excellent recording of the band in typical white-hot mid-tour form. Beginning with what is surely one of their most evocative opening songs, “Hell Is Chrome” forces those who just want to let their rocks roll to sit/stand at rapt attention. Four songs in, we get a first glimpse at “Sky Blue Sky” in the form of “What Light”, featuring some intro and first verse guitar flourishes from Nels Cline that would later be excised from the live arrangement. The biggest highlight comes a few songs later: the first (and one of the few) live performances of the unreleased (until now!) “Let’s Fight”. This rarity was first attempted during the “A Ghost Is Born” sessions, and then re-attempted, but never completed, during the recording of “Sky Blue Sky”. This is followed by the aforementioned “Spiders”, with its new ending whereby the band fades down to the sole sound of Glenn’s bass drum, only to then abruptly silence that and leave the audience to (hopefully) keep time via handclaps. Future versions of this arrangement gave the audience sufficient time and rope to figuratively hang themselves (it’s hard to clap in time at a rock show), but this one keeps things short and crisp before the final instrumental chorus comes crashing through.
Other standouts include a very rocking “A Shot in The Arm” and a beautiful extended (albeit slightly undermixed) solo from Mr. Cline on “Ashes of American Flags”.
From Ben Blackwell, official archivist of The White Stripes
Opening for Sleater-Kinney, the September 2000 performance at the Southgate House would be the first of three Stripes performance at the venue in the span of 8 months. Built in 1812, the Southgate once hosted Abraham Lincoln and was also the birthplace of the inventor of the Tommy Gun.
On this inaugural visit to the club we were told that it was haunted by a female apparition from the 1850s. Waiting in the widow’s peak everyday, she would watch for the riverboat her husband worked on. The Southgate House is situated prominently on bluffs on the Kentucky side so she could easily view its daily arrival and departure. One day, out of nowhere, the ship exploded into flames. Instantly struck with grief that her husband had perished, she hanged herself. In a cruel Shakespearean twist, that proved to be the day her husband had missed the boat, his life spared.
Yeah, if that happened to me I’d be haunting the shit out of that place too. There are other tales of Confederate soldier sightings in the halls, random specters, all-around wholesome fun for the entire family.
The band C.O.C.O. was scheduled to go on first of this evening but got caught up in some Indiana speed ticket drama and would not make it to the club in time to play their set. So the Stripes went on first, something they would only do a handful more times in their career, primarily when the Strokes or Rolling Stones were also on the bill.
Highlights for me in this show include Jack’s delivery in “Cannon” where he stretches the title out and sings it as “cannon-non-non-non-non” in a way I don’t recall him ever doing before or since. And the skeletal “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” just ALMOST where it needs to be, one Bug Muff pedal away from the overdrive the song would need to become a continual set-opener for both the Stripes and his solo career.
After the show, we hung out at the Comet in Cincinnati and then crashed at Patrick Keeler’s house for the evening.
If there was ever a time to appreciate archival live recordings, that time is now.
Many years ago, I heard the brilliantly talented and famously cantankerous guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson posit a provocative position on the subject of live recordings. “Of the many, many performances [I’ve seen] over four decades,” he told an audience at SXSW in Austin, “I have [never] left and felt I wished to have it on tape. There was nothing in my experience of any of [those] events which were other than available to my experience. And if I wasn’t there, I missed it. And if I missed it, photographs, recordings, nothing could bring this back to me.”
Au contraire mon frère.
The core idea Fripp articulates is undeniably true: Nothing can fully replace or replicate being at a concert in person, as it happens. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Archival live recordings are, as Ma Bell used to say, “the next best thing to being there.” (For those too young to remember, that’s what AT&T was affectionately called when it was a national telecom monopoly.)
As undeniably magical as live concerts can be, they are by nature fleeting, real-time experiences. Yes, they live on in our memories, but what’s the larger cultural value of these unique performances? When the technology was invented in the 1870s to record and preserve audio, after the spoken word, the earliest recordings captured on those cylinders were of musicians performing live. Preserving performances is arguably the fundamental underlying purpose of recording technology.
Hearing a show you attended can stir memories back to life. Amazing as that is, live recordings even allow time travel and can place us at the Tower Theater in 1975, the Roxy in 1978 or Wembley Arena in 1981 when we couldn’t have possibly been there any other way. Is it the same as having had Bruce stand on your cocktail table during the middle of “Spirit in the Night?” No, but close your eyes, let your imagination flow, and it is awfully close.
Gothenburg 7/28/12 allows fans who weren’t there at Ullevi to travel through time and space to hear one of the best nights on the Wrecking Ball tour in a closing run of European concerts that was, to quote Stevie Van Zandt’s predictive tweet before the show, “one for the ages.”
There’s something about rainy shows that brings out the best in Bruce and the band. The show opener, a cover of Creedence’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” is a bellwether for great things to come, with crunchy guitar leading the way. Fan-band bonds are solidified through sparkling takes of “The Ties That Bind” and “Out in the Street” (with extra long intro) before we move to the less-traveled corners of Born in the U.S.A. with an excellent “doubleheader” of “Downbound Train” and “I’m Goin’ Down.” The former extends the guitar-richness of the show’s opening salvo and benefits from the heft of the horn section; the latter restores a bit of often-missing edge to the self-deprecating tale.
The aforementioned guitar tone extends seamlessly into a sharp “My Lucky Day” in one of only four Wrecking Ball tour performances. Special nights are built on special songs, and Gothenburg has particularly juicy ones.
What is it about “Lost in the Flood?” Bruce and the band can let it lie dormant for ages, then nail it as they did in NYC 2000. “Flood” had gone unplayed for three years prior to Gothenburg, wasn’t soundchecked, yet the mighty E Street Band is more than up to the task. “In the key of E minor,” says Bruce, “then we’re gonna hit the big chord.” Do they ever. The big chord that follows Roy’s prelude smashes forth an electrifying version that sounds as vital and fresh as it did four decades prior. Bruce vocals are especially gritty, evidenced by this not-so-subtle lyric change: “Hey man, did you see that? Those poor cats were sure fucked up.” Damn.
The energy generated by “Lost in the Flood” propels the ensuing three-pack from Wrecking Ball (“We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Death to My Hometown”) plus kindred spirit “My CIty of Ruins.” Pick your cliche—firing on all cylinders, in the zone, killing it—all would apply, and doesn’t the horn section sound fantastic? Despite the stadium scale of the show, Jon Altschiller’s mix is tight and close, with Roy’s piano and Max’s high-hat in particularly sharp focus.
“Frankie.” Merely typing the song title brings a smile. The marvelous, lost-and-found Springsteen original premiered on the Spring 1976 tour, his first new song after the release of Born to Run. It was performed around a dozen times that year and cut for Darkness a year later (despite Bruce’s introduction saying The River). It was recorded again for Born in the U.S.A. in 1982, and that version was eventually released on Tracks in 1998.
The song’s live outings in modern times are equally limited. One-off attempts in 1999 and 2003 showed “Frankie” deceptively tricky to get right; something about the song’s lilting quality and mid-tempo pacing proved elusive. But after working through the arrangement in soundcheck, Bruce unlocks the wondrous heart of “Frankie” and lets it wash over Gothenburg in a spellbinding performance.
The show’s second act begins with slightly off-kilter take of “The River,” though normal service is restored in a crisp “Because the Night” and on through “Lonesome Day,” “Hungry Heart,” “Shackled and Drawn,” and “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” We step back into special-show territory with another great pick from Tracks, the rollicking River outtake “Where the Bands Are” dedicated to the fans who had traveled from show to show around Europe. It is the last performance to date of the irresistible track.
Sure, special songs help make special nights, but Gothenburg is more than its rarities. The performance of “Backstreets” shines as a particular standout, taking its time and accented with vocal nuances that don’t occur in every outing. I don’t think Bruce can sing it any better in this century. Boom, “Badlands” kicks in, and the show runs through the end of the main set via “Land of Hope and Dreams” and the band-spotlighting “People Get Ready” outro.
The encore might best be described as one of release. Start with Bruce’s final vocal line in “Thunder Road,” as he wavers for effect on “we’re pulling out of here to wiiiiiiin.” The contrast of “Thunder Road” into “Born in the U.S.A.” is compelling “40 years down the road” with the horns adding anthemic overtones to the song’s conclusion. The energy stays high for “Born to Run,” “Ramrod,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” before we reach the emotional apex of the night: The return of “Jungleland.”
“Clarence was a special part of Sweden,” Bruce tells the crowd. “So tonight, we haven’t done this one in a long time, and we haven’t practiced it. This is for the Big Man and for you for giving him a home for quite a few years.”
Roy and Soozie kick it off a la Main Point ‘75. The band turns the burners to high. Steve’s guitar solo is on point. As we arrive at The Moment, Bruce’s vocals are passionate, stretching out “Just one look and a whisper, they’re gaw-aw-one” before Jake Clemons hits that transcendent note. Having never listened to fan recordings of the show, I didn’t know what to expect from this resurrection, but Jake, Bruce, and the band really deliver. That first note of the solo might bring a tear to your eye, and when Jake’s spotlight ends, you hear the appreciation and recognition of what just transpired from the audience.
How does one follow up such a moment? The only way Bruce knows how, with “Twist and Shout.” Nothing can follow that, yet even after 12 minutes the audience is still “whoa, whoaing” the melody to “Badlands.” No wonder these Euro 2012 shows were so long: the audiences, Bruce, and the band just didn’t want it to end.
This second volume of our Staff Picks series comes from Stephen Holland on our marketing team. He loves music across a wide spectrum but there is definitely an emphasis on sounds of the southeast and jazzier jams. Click here to listen to Stephen’s Picks in the nugs.net app and read below to learn more about why he loves these tracks. Enjoy!
Railroad Earth: “Panama Red” 11/30/13 – Stroudsburg, PA
I’ve always loved this New Riders of the Purple Sage tune and Railroad Earth has some fun with it here.
The Allman Brothers Band: “Statesboro Blues” 8/12/08 – Bethel, NY
I’m a Georgia boy so a famous blues standard with a Peach State location reference always hits for me. This was a Mountain Jam show with the same band that recently reunited at MSG as The Brothers, absent Gregg and Butch of course.
Goose: “Madhuvan” 3/15/20 – T’s House
A really fresh one here. This was the opening track of a webcast that Goose just did over the weekend with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in this time of virus-caused live music drought. They lit up someone’s living room on this one.
Jerry Garcia Band: “Mission in the Rain” 6/10/89 – French’s Camp on the Elk River
Recording of an under-appreciated Jerry tune from a small little place up in Northern California.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “Cover Me Up” 10/22/18 – Ryman Auditorium
Jason Isbell has been the most consistent soundtrack of my life the last few years. His writing is a combination of the nostalgia from the south and the current state of the world. This track has a special place in my life for sure.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “Outfit” 9/14/19 – Capitol Theatre
Doubled up on Jason but it’s my playlist. This one hits big on growing up in the south nostalgia.
Pearl Jam: “Alive” 11/30/93 – Las Vegas, NV
From the earliest Pearl Jam archive show that we have, the band toured on its second album Vs. Unfortunately, we don’t have a video of the Elvis impersonator that sat in with them. We’ll have to just imagine that.
Billy Strings: “Turmoil and Tinfoil” 2/15/20 – Asheville, NC
Billy en fuego on this track. I can’t wait for his tour with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit this summer.
The White Stripes: “Boll Weevil” 7/31/07 – Southaven, MS
The last song of the last White Stripes show, enough said. You can see I like old blues standards.
Tyler Childers: “Lady May” 11/30/18 – Exit In, Nashville, TN
Who doesn’t like a beautiful love song? The lyrics and the lonesome fiddle get me every time.
Tyler Childers: “Country Squire” 11/30/18 – Exit In, Nashville, TN
Another double dose. I needed to highlight some slide guitar on here.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead: “Truckin'” 11/10/18 – The Fox Oakland
A nice stretched out jam of a classic. This was a great show across the Bay at the Fox.
Wilco: “California Stars” 12/3/01 – The Fillmore San Francisco
Iconic song recorded in another round of turbulent times just down the street at The Fillmore. It makes me feel like it’s all going to be ok for about 6 minutes anyway.
Charlie Hunter: “Lively Up Yourself” 9/14/96 – Cincinnati, OH
The horns, guitar, and organ play together like the three best friends that anyone ever had. More of this, please.
Kitchen Dwellers: “New Man” 2/8/20 – Bend, OR
Blisters on some fingers here as they headed into the break. Really been enjoying the Kitchen Dwellers lately.
Guy Clark: “LA Freeway Pack Up All Your Dishes” 11/19/89 – Austin City Limits
A cool one from a trove of Austin City Limits shows that we have. Guy Clark is one of my favorite songwriters.
Lotus: “Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky” 2/15/20 – Frisco, CO
This is a nice recent one from Lotus with some beautiful harmonies in the back. Enjoy!
Ghost Light: “Old Time Religion” 11/22/19 – San Francisco, CA
This was one of my favorite tunes from last year’s show here in the neighborhood at The Independent.
“Three-hour shows! Acoustic sets! Deep cuts! On-stage restaurant gift certificate giveaways! All of these factors made the Spring 2010 “An Evening With” tour one of the most revered among long-time fans. Initially starting with a hefty 33-35 song length, by the time the tour rolled into the central New Jersey town of Montclair, the show had expanded to occasionally hit 38 songs played over 3-plus hours onstage. The sets were so long that, in order to catch their collective breath, the band really did take a few moments mid-show to give away local restaurant gift certificates to a few lucky fans.
But quantity ain’t nothin’ without quality, and these shows have a high quantity of quality (see what we did there?). Perhaps the coolest aspect of these shows is how the performance morphs, via the noise-coda of “Poor Places”, from it’s initial hi-wattage electricity to an intimate mid-show acoustic set…and then back “up” again after “Airline To Heaven’s” crescendo. In addition to its counterbalance of timbre and dynamics, the acoustic set also provided a platform for the performance of rarely-played deep cuts; these Montclair shows include “Someday Some Morning Sometime”, “When You Wake Up Feeling Old”, and the deepest of deep tracks, “More Like The Moon” (featuring a beautiful extended Jeff Tweedy acoustic guitar solo). These shows also include powerful readings of the Big Star songs “In The Street” and “Thank You Friends” as a tribute to the then-recent passing of Wilco hero Alex Chilton.
All in all, the two shows in Montclair showcase a whopping 57 different songs, presenting a near-complete representation of what went down during that “An Evening With” tour.” – Marc Prizer
“Heard Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana consecutively on the radio as we entered Seattle city limits. When we got to the club the sound guy was wearing the ‘Fudge Packin’ Nirvana tee I knew I’d see here. Took me awhile to find the Space Needle, but once I did, I knew I was officially in Seattle. While band was sound checking, I explored the city and managed to walk to Sub Pop World HQ and the Croc Club.
The Stripes were okay, Slim Moon was really into it, sold a ton of merch, saw some guy with a bootleg Gories ‘Outta Here’ t-shirt. After the show, Jack got offered to record for Kill Rock Stars and Sub Pop (from Jon Ponemon himself). Leaving the club the van wouldn’t start (for about ten seconds) giving everyone a big scare.”
In terms of The White Stripes first extended tour, Seattle seemed like a gig everyone was looking forward to. Having just turned 18 years old four days prior, I was later told that if I could get into the show in Seattle (with some of the most restrictive 21-and-over bar policies in the country) that I would be able to get in ANYWHERE. No one ever even asked to look at my ID, but the next four times I would find myself at the Crocodile Club I would have to stay in the van because I wasn’t 21 yet. Anyway, the set that night was prime White Stripes 2000 magic, all the best moments from their first two albums delivered with abandon and aplomb. The crowd doesn’t even seem to mind the early abandonment of “Little Bird”, cheering their heads off at its conclusion, nor object when Jack re-inserts the tune into the set not two songs later. While Jack’s voice had been having issues this week (he even begins the show pre-apologizing for it) outside of his changing his register for “Jolene” it sounds vibrant to me. The vitality of youth! I shot video of this gig, but it’s a terrible angle with horrible light. Maybe we’ll share it for the 30th anniversary.
Are you stuck at home for the foreseeable future? As music-lovers, we know how frustrating it is to be separated from the live music experience. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of shows you can enjoy anywhere. Watch these at home and enjoy the full concert experience without risking your health. Throw them on in your living room and grab a front-row seat on your couch, it’s showtime. We also have a full slate of upcoming live webcasts coming from studios and artists’ living rooms; check out the full lineup on nugs.tv!
The 1988 Tunnel of Love Express Tour was marked by material changes to the Springsteen concert baseline in place from 1978-1985. The band changed on-stage positions, setlist warhorses like “Badlands” and “Thunder Road” took a breather, and Bruce drafted in a horn section for the first time since 1977. But the true differentiator separating the ’88 tour from every other is its original narrative arc. A Tunnel performance was a blend of song selections, sequencing, and even on-stage elements that took the audience on a journey through the complex and nuanced world of adulthood and relationships: romantic, fraternal, and familial.
Bruce started Tunnel shows with an invitation along the lines of, “Are you ready to ride?” The visual metaphor on stage was that of an amusement park, implying a night of thrills, chills, and spills. Marketing for the tour intoned “This is not a dark ride,” but as Bruce wrote in “Tunnel of Love,” “the house is haunted and the ride gets rough.” Does it ever.
The Tunnel set, in story and song, explored adult life’s emotional ups and downs and the hard questions that arise when you recognize being in a deep committed relationship requires acknowledging your doubts and vulnerabilities.
At the time, the tour’s setlist rigidity raised eyebrows from longtime fans, though it did loosen up as the tour wore on. But in hindsight, the initial core setlist in the tour’s first several weeks can be seen one of Bruce’s most fully realized artistic visions. Detroit 3/28/88 captures the Tunnel of Love Express Tour in its purest form.
The first set in Detroit borders on perfection, opening with a stellar version of “Tunnel of Love” into “Be True,” the latter released as a live b-side from this performance. The River-era selection serves as a showcase for the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, who was at the top of his game on the tour and blows “Be True” beautifully. Patti Scialfa’s vocals are also on point.
The resurrection of “Adam Raised a Cain” for the first time since the Darkness tour is a long-awaited return, especially with the Tunnel of Love Horns adding heft to the performance and Bruce’s guitar pushed to the fore. In terms of familial relationships, “Adam” is one end of a father-son thread that will come back later in the show with “Walk Like a Man.” But before that there is other provocative ground to cover: introspection (“Two Faces”), companionship (“All That Heaven Will Allow”), oppressive outside forces (“Seeds,” “Roulette”), shelter from those storms (“Cover Me”), self-doubt (“Brilliant Disguise”), a mother’s doubt (“Spare Parts”), and lastly the lingering impact of the Vietnam War (“War,” “Born In the U.S.A.”).
The sequencing of the set is so strong that the transitions between tracks are as memorable as the songs themselves. “Tunnel” gives way to the soaring “Be True.” “Roulette” ends but “Cover Me” rises from the mist in the same key. The haunting keyboards that end “Cover Me” flow straight into “Brilliant Disguise.” Every song change has been thought through and rehearsed, or in some cases newly written. The stirring piano and synthesizer suite that serves as the music bed to the introduction of “Spare Parts” is one of my favorite musical elements of the entire tour, cinematic in scope and poignant in expression. Kudos Mr. Bittan and Mr. Federici.
The set ends with a brilliant “Born in the U.S.A.,” again showing that 1988 versions of the song are the most potent, driven by Bruce’s additional lyrics and storming guitar solo.
“Tougher Than the Rest” opens the second set on a majestic note and reminds us of its place among the very best songs Bruce has ever written. After a foray into longing via “Ain’t Got You” and “She’s the One,” the mood lightens with the playful and self-effacing “You Can’t Look (But You Better Not Touch)” and Gino Washington cover-turned-original (and ’88 tour exclusive) “I’m a Coward.” The pairing of “I’m on Fire” with “One Step Up” is a trip into a particular male psyche, perhaps even the same character at two different stages of life.
“Part Man, Part Monkey” offers a humorous take on animal instincts before the overall narrative arc reaches its dénouement with “Walk Like a Man,” revisiting the father and son from “Adam Raised a Cain.” The resplendently detailed yet understated arrangement is augmented by horns and shows off the band’s vocal chops, too. Bruce’s singing stays true to the original, and there’s a real power in the sincerity of his performance.
The set ends with “Light of Day,” in a less refined, more exploratory form than later versions in ‘88. In fact, rather than bring closure, this “Light of Day” seems more a celebration of uncharted waters — the line that really stands out now, “Don’t ask me what I’m doing buddy, I don’t know,” lands like an overall commentary on the narrative that preceded it.
Standouts in the encore include “Love Me Tender,” which teeters on wedding band territory until you realize that Bruce is singing the hell out of it, and a free-flowing “Detroit Medley,” with Bruce calling out key changes and the band showing off their turn-on-a-dime prowess. The medley features “Sweet Soul Music,” which gives La Bamba & Co. one of the all-time great horn parts to chew on.
For dessert, we’re treated to the second soundcheck bonus track in the live archive series, “Reason to Believe.” While Tunnel of Love setlists had fewer variants than a typical Springsteen tour, 1988 soundchecks were often wide-ranging affairs, loaded with cover songs (some of which eventually found their way into the set) and other material. As cool as those covers could be, “Reason To Believe” is even more compelling.
The song regularly featured on the Born in the U.S.A. tour but was dropped when the show moved to stadiums. Here, Bruce and the band test drive a moody, horn-accented arrangement that is reminiscent of what they would do with Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” two months later at Madison Square Garden. Springsteen’s vocals and harp are resolute, the music swampy, and the end product a beguiling alternative take on one of Springsteen’s best and, as later versions attest most mutable songs.
Highs, lows, pathos, comedy, sin, redemption—the Tunnel of Love Express tour had it all, and on stage in Detroit, Bruce shared as much of himself in these rich, satisfying performances as he would do three decades later on Broadway.
Next week, thousands will gather in Las Vegas to celebrate three decades of 311. The band will play three shows beginning on March 11th A.K.A 311’s official holiday, 311 DAY. Fans unable to make the trip out to Sin City will be able to participate in the festivities from home. All three shows will be webcast live on nugs.tv in their entirety. The webcasts, offering individual nights or a three-night package, are available for order now. Ahead of next week’s celebrations, we spoke to 311’s Nick Hexum (Vocals, Guitar) about this year’s 311 DAY and more.
nugs: With this being a special 30th-Anniversary celebration, what do fans have in store with these three 311 DAY shows?
Nick Hexum: I think it will be a very emotional experience for us and our fans. Reflecting on what a special community the 311 Nation has become. We will be looking back as well as forward. Being 311 DAY shows, of course, we’ll be digging deep and playing songs from throughout our 30-year career across 2 sets a night, plus we have special production to take the spectacle of this show to another level!
nugs: What is your fondest memory from 30 years of touring?
NH: One special night was when we did a big free show in a park in Omaha back in 2006 and like 40,000 people showed up. It was overwhelming to see the sea of people in our hometown. Meanwhile, every 311 Caribbean Cruise and 311 DAY feel really special. Somehow it just keeps getting better!
nugs: What makes a 311 DAY so special?
NH: It’s like a family reunion. A celebration of the band, the fans and the community we’ve built together. I’ve heard so many cool stories of people who know each other online meeting in person and then becoming great friends. Also, quite a few marriages and babies being conceived! Mostly, it’s time for us to express our gratitude for our incredible fan-base by putting on the very best show we can!
nugs: Do you think this year’s 311 DAY shows will hit the 100 song mark across all three days?
NH: I’m sworn to secrecy.
nugs: What makes doing this in Vegas so special?
I think people leave their troubles behind once they arrive in Vegas. People just automatically unwind there, so it’s perfect for a 311 event. Plus the Park Theater is an amazing high-tech venue to get to play. Let’s rock!
Jeff Milbourn is nugs.net’s Vice President of Technology, resident Widespread Panic apologist, and possibly Goose’s #1 fan. Longtime Widespread Panic fans have probably enjoyed his tapes from ’90s Panic shows. For the first installment of our Staff Picks series, there’s no one better to share their list of favorites from across the years.
This was a top Widespread Panic show when it happened and remains a top show still today. This is WSmfP at their best. Houser screams, Jo Jo is dynamic and omnipresent, Schools thunders and drops bombs, Todd and Sunny crescendo, and JB sings like an angel throughout the entire show.
I Love Mule. I Love dirty NOLA Mule even better. I’ve seen a lot of great NOLA Mule shows over the years but this one is something else. “On Your Way Down” with Jonathon ‘Boogie’ Long and “The Hunter” > “Good Morning Little School Girl” > “The Hunter” with Alvin Youngblood and Smokey Greenwell are required listening.
Before kicking off a ridiculous show which, of all bands, Barenaked Ladies opened, JB growls, “How about a big ole’ hand for Barenaked Ladies . . . Barenaked everything!” Classic JB, classic Panic show at Mud Island.
This is the show that should not have been. As many probably know, The Rolling Stones were supposed to headline Jazzfest. When they canceled, Fleetwood Mac was booked to fill the slot, yet they too canceled (quite fortuitously). Panic stepped in to fill the void. The speculation was that Panic would incorporate at least one song from the Stones. Not so. Instead, they decided to blow out the Fairgrounds on their own terms, with a nod to Dr. John.
This is Panic’s most recent show available on nugs.net. It will be replaced on the list of best shows by the next show the band plays. And that’s the point. You can never beat the anticipation of the “next one.”
By Photographer and Writer Joshua Huver(Must Have Media)
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA 2/14/20
Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA 2/15/20
The Baltimore, MD based funky foursome of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong marked their fifth overall SF Bay Area appearance over Valentine’s Day weekend on February 14 and 15.
The two-night extravaganza was a little different from the typical two-night stand. Instead of setting up shop in one venue overnight, guitarists Greg Ormont and Jeremy Schon, bassist Ben Carrey, and drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos performed at different venues each night.
In doing so, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong follows a recently growing trend for jam bands visiting the SF Bay where bands will play a smaller, more intimate venue before moving into a larger spot to accommodate more fans. In recent years STS9, The String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey’s McGee have all followed a similar model. For P4, this meant they got cozy on Valentine’s Day at the Great American Music Hall and finished SF at The Regency Ballroom which holds about 1,000 more people only a few blocks away.
These two San Francisco dates fall right in the middle of the band’s 13-date trip West and they have brought Connecticut-based bird band Goose along for support on each bill. Goose deliver hard breaking grooves and patiently spaced, hard-rocking jams underneath a vocal harmony that you just don’t normally hear in the jam band community. The love and camaraderie between bands was full tilt, evidenced by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong giving Goose 60-75 minutes as an opening band each night and opting to only take a single 2 hour set themselves on the 15th.
But on Valentine’s Day P4 delivered a rowdy two-set show with on-theme covers and unrelentingly high energy all night long for their debut at the historic San Francisco venue. They opened with “Walk Outside”, from 2016’s Pleasure, a song that had been cut from the encore of the previous night in Santa Cruz. That was followed by two tracks that appear on their most recently released record, Presto: “Avalanche”, which delivered a mountain of funk for the audience to dance their way out ofand “Fortress”.
From 2017’s Pizazz the band delivered a major “Porcupine” sandwich featured a transition into “Penguins” and a cover of the Deee-Lite track “Groove is in the Heart” mashed into it before wrapping it back up with the end of “Porcupine”. Playing into the maritime relationship of the Bay Area, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took a “Water” break before finishing the set with an ode to the Greek water god, “Poseidon”. Ormont and the band had one more Ace up their sleeves, dealing out a totally unexpected cover of “Daddy Wasn’t There” from the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember.
“Henrietta” gave the second set a solid standalone start before Gator took the spotlight ahead of “Bad For You”. Carrey’s thunderous slap-pluck bass technique rolls in slowly, and before long the song is off. Definitely don’t skip ahead and wait out the segue into “Live It Up” – it’s worth it.
They followed immediately with a second pair of back-to-back tracks. “Kiwi”, another carryover that was nixed from the night before in Santa Cruz came third in the set and spilled into the psychedelic party vibes of “Yo Soy Fiesta”.
At the midway point of the second set, the lights dropped onto Carrey for a bass solo that signaled the beginning of what may be the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brand-equivalent of Help! > Slip > Franklin’s, or, “Spacejam” > “The Hop” > “F.U.”. If you like getting lost in the signature screaming leads of Schon and some intense disco beats, strap yourself in.
One of their earliest tracks and only from their 2010 debut album Funk E P, “Landing” turned the funk up to 11 and into a monster jam that melted into the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Long Train Running” to close the set. For the encore, they went for a single standalone take on “Ocean Flows”.
For the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s return to The Regency, it was obvious that they felt comfortable and at home. What was supposed to be another two-set show as fans of the band and other jam bands are accustomed to and expect turned into a single mega long set with no break. The energy that reciprocates between P4 and their fans gets palpable, and they certainly know how to read the room.
Saturday’s show opened with a pair of standalone songs beginning with High As Five”, the third and most recent single from the 2020 release Presto. That was followed by the Pleasure track “Bad For You”.
Pizazz’s “Something For Ya” kicked off a massive head-bobbing dance party that accelerated through “Skipjack”, the final song off of Presto.
The first cover of the final night saw the band revisit their ‘Dead Hot Sgt. Peppers’ themed Halloween weekend from 2018 for one of George Harrison’s most memorable contributions to The Beatles’ catalog, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which elevated into a wild and raucous segue of “Burning Up My Time” > “King Kong”, another single from the new albums.
After a brief rendezvous onstage, the four band members called an audible and opted to continue riding the energy out and skip the set break. They continued with a standalone take on “Too Long” before entering “Whoopie” sandwiched around the Prince classic “1999”.
A pair of tunes from the bands’ sophomore release Psychology followed. Beginning with “Lightning”, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong invited fellow bird band members Rich Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach of Goose to sit in on guitar and keyboards, respectively.
One of the overall highlights of the weekend, it was the first time the bands had crossed paths musically onstage since beginning the tour almost a full week prior. “Lightning” was tailed by the band’s live music meta-opus “Horizon” before finishing the marathon set with “The Liquid” – an appropriate reference to the full melt the audience was in the throes of.
Even after all that, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong mustered up the energy for a one-two encore punch. They started with a new (less than one year and 15 plays since its debut) song called “Distant Times”, followed by the lead single from Presto, “Dawn a New Day.” In full-circle fashion, long time San Francisco flockers will remember that the band debuted “Dawn a New Day” during their second SF stop in October of 2017.
The work of a jam band requires a fierce and loyal following to thrive; by that measure, Twiddle has made it and is here to stay.
Comprising of front-man Mihali Savoulidis (lead guitar, vox), Zdenek Gubb (bass, vox), Ryan Dempsey (keys, vox), and Brook Jordan (percussion, vox), Twiddle enraptured the State Theatre this Saturday, February 15th.
The night kicked off with Wild Adriatic, followed by Strange Machines, creating a recipe sure to thrill during this Valentine’s weekend.
Wild Adriatic got the crowd going with their hard rock sensibilities, showing off their versatility with a unique take on Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”. These guys are absolutely realizing their soul sensibilities, revealing the many facets of their pop-rock roots.
Vermont-based Strange Machines followed. These guys are no strangers to the members of Twiddle, who have shown consistent love for playing with fellow local musicians in a wide variety of shows. Strange Machines features Mike MacDonald (guitar, vox), Craig Holland ( bass, vox), Josh Dobbs (keyboard), & Ryan ‘Claw’ Clausen (drums): an expert choice to prime the crowd with their unique, immersive blend of psychedelic rock. Keep your eyes on them, folks.
Both Dobbs and Clausen have been consistent staples of Burlington’s notorious Dead Set at Nectar’s (Burlington, VT) since its inception seven years ago, filling crowds with their own takes on Dead covers every Tuesday. At the right time, you might even find Mihali and/or Gubb throwing their stylings into the mix. Though perhaps these days, you may be more likely to find the guys throwing down at Ryan Dempsey’s own new club/venue, Orlando’s Bar.
Following an epic finale in which Mihali joined Strange Machines for their electro-jam fan-favorite “Klepto”, the stage went dark to prepare for Twiddle, as the crowd continued to grow and buzz in anticipation.
The lights came up, the band emerged, and the crowd instantly threw all of their considerable energy in as “Nicodemus Portulay” began to take shape.
Electricity was in the air, the crowd was primed, and Dempsey took the lead as Twiddle dove into “Gatsby the Great”. The crowd was fully immersed as the group seamlessly slid into “Zazu’s Flight” before finishing off this take of “Gatsby”.
A true highlight for this Frend was the first set finale, featuring Josh Dobbs stepping in on the keys to fill out the melodious and heartfelt “Out In The Cold”.
The stage was silent once again, as we buzzed with anticipation of what was to come.
They may be a new(er) generation of ‘jam’ band to the fiercely loyal and competitive scene of Burlington, but hot damn, these guys know what they are doing.
“Blunderbuss”, as the title evokes, exploded through the crowd like a starburst, as Dempsey, Gubb, and Jordan rode out a rhythmic sound-storm.
“Jamflowman”, a well-loved Twiddle staple, found Mihali back at the forefront, with beautiful solo riffs, as the crowd enthusiastically joined in to sing along. This crowd favorite transitioned into “Frankenfoote”, as Mihali continued to dominate the stage, before moving “Into the Kitchen”.
Not enough yet? Certainly not. Dempsey threw the crowd straight into the band’s tried and true cover of Mason William’s timeless hit, “Classical Gas”. Set two came to a close to resounding applause and ecstatic cheers.
But being from Vermont, Twiddle was not done yet. Finishing off (so we thought), with a “Syncopated Healing” that is equal parts wildly improvisational and harmonious, the Frends are satisfied.
But then, before we knew it, we were hit with a “Juggernaut”. Minds blown, loves found and reinforced, Twiddle exited the stage.
With the Super Bowl just completed, social media reminded us anew about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s turn in the halftime spotlight back in February 2009. That gig speaks for itself (and will never be confused with Shakira and J-Lo’s even with knee slides), but it also proved to be the catalyst for one of the busiest periods in modern Springsteen history.
With massive TV exposure beckoning, Bruce greenlit a new album and tour mere months beyond the conclusion of his last cycle. After putting out Magic in September 2007 and touring it for the better part of 12 months, Bruce began 2009 with the drop of another studio album, Working on a Dream, followed a week later by the Super Bowl, his most widely viewed performance ever. Barely catching their breath, Springsteen and the band kicked off the WOAD tour on April 1, which would run through November, albeit with new wrinkles.
Nassau Coliseum 5/4/09 presents the first opportunity in the archive series to revisit the WOAD tour in its purest form, the first leg, before the full-album shows of the fall and on a night when Max Weinberg played drums the entire performance.
Max’s son Jay had been drafted to take his sticks while the Mighty One was fulfilling his day job leading the house band for Conan O’Brien’s short-lived stint hosting The Tonight Show. Because he was training his understudy, Max shared the drum stool with Jay for the preceding eight concerts. Max’s full participation at Nassau may be one of the factors energizing this excellent performance which offers a winsome mix of recent material, welcome returns, and a few true surprises.
Let’s get right to the point: The first half of the show is straight fire. There’s a real sense of purpose and focus right out of the gate with a punchy “Badlands” straight into “No Surrender.” Familiar territory, yet sounding mighty fresh indeed, buoyed by the E Street Band in especially fine voice (a good example of details you can only hear in the archive series recordings). Listen for lovely vocals from Soozie and Patti at the top of “No Surrender” and clear evidence of the night’s high spirits: after Bruce sings “Hearts of fire grow cold,” Clarence shouts an affirmative, “YEAH!”
With the show clipping along, Bruce goes all-in for “Outlaw Pete,” and damn if it doesn’t work, as his conviction brings the hokum narrative to life. Springsteen and the band have a rollicking good romp through the mini Western epic, and there’s even a quick nod to “Be True” in the final solo.
A snappy “She’s the One” makes an unusually early and appreciated appearance in the set, continuing the cool E Street vibes. Like “Outlaw Pete,” Bruce digs deep for “Working on a Dream” in what has to be one of the best versions of the song, sounding vital and rich, once again resplendent with background vocals from the band. One of the tour’s hallmarks was Springsteen’s preacher rap in the middle of the title track, and his gospel will surely move you, especially with the The Big Man’s call-and-response intonations so clear and heartfelt.
“Seeds” made a much-appreciated reappearance in 2009, the first E Street Band turn for the song since the Tunnel of Love Express Tour and played in a potent, straightforward arrangement that wraps with inspired guitar soloing. “Johnny 99” marks another WOAD tour return in a full-band version that bears an unmistakable Jerry Lee Lewis flavor. There’s no mistaking the blast the band is having, with Nils taking a sinewy slide guitar solo and Soozie and Patti singing sweet, train whistle “Woo Hoo”s.
Six-string pyrotechnics continue with a showcase for Lofgren on “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” completing the so-called “recession pack” of songs that started with “Seeds.” Thanks to Jon Altschiller’s revealing mix, the song is also a showcase for Roy Bittan, who, unbeknownst to most of us until now, plays a beautiful piano part behind Nils’ soaring solo.
Another distinguishing feature of the WOAD tour was the impact of song-request signs made by the audience. The acknowledgment of these signs organically evolved the show to feature a moment where, during “Raise Your Hand,” Bruce collected signs and decided what requests to grant.
Kismet was definitely in play for the first request granted, the one and to-date only performance of “Expressway to Your Heart,” a minor hit for the Soul Survivors in 1967 written by the legendary Philadelphia songwriting and producing team Gamble & Huff. Anticipating the request, Springsteen and the band rehearsed and soundchecked the song, which helps explain why their one-off version is so bloody good.
Bruce has a rich history of covering minor hits (“Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,” “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Mountain of Love”) and making them his own, and “Expressway to Your Heart” joins the pantheon of the best of them. With its irresistible hook and infectious chorus, the song is an instant E Street classic cover worth the price of admission.
The request section goes from strength to strength as a well-oiled “For You” follows “Expressway,” then the tour premiere of “Rendezvous,” an asset to any set list. This wonderful sequence concludes with a fizzing version of “Night.” What more could you want?
The back nine of Nassau 5/4/09 holds up its end of the bargain, too. Some consider “The Wrestler” to be the signature performance on this leg of the tour, and the case is made strongly tonight. The song’s rustic, fleeting majesty is on full display (does anyone else hear hints of U2’s “Kite”?), with Bruce’s voice rough-edged and full of emotion. In hindsight, the story told by “The Wrestler” echoes some of the sentiment expressed first-person in Bruce’s autobiography and Broadway show.
Beckoning Patti to the mic, Bruce changes the mood with a soaring “Kingdom of Days,” pledging his partnership in full voice in this underappreciated song, rare for celebrating love not at its inception, but further on up the road.
A trio of 2000s songs (“Radio Nowhere,” “Lonesome Day” and “The Rising”) carries us to “Born to Run” and the encore, where Bruce speaks nostalgically about how “these old buildings” — arenas like Nassau Coliseum, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, and the Sports Arena in Los Angeles — are “great concert halls” that are being torn down one by one. Springsteen’s history in Nassau Coliseum alone, site of the epic New Year’s Eve 1980 set among others, is significant and resonates through this final performance in the original arena which has since been renovated.
The encore ends, as it should, in joy mode, with “Dancing in the Dark” (in which Garry Talent keeps the time very tight indeed) and “Rosalita.” And surely any performance of “Jungleland” from Clarence’s final tour should be treasured. But it is the first line of a song unique to the WOAD tour, “Hard Times (Come Again No More),” that lingers: “Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears.”
Following Bruce’s comments about the value of old buildings like Nassau Coliseum and his suggestion to the audience to support Long Island Cares (founded by Harry Chapin), the sentiment of “Hard Times” — making its live archive debut here — is fitting. In early 2020, a time marked by national travails and reminders of how precious and fleeting life can be, the 166-year-old lyric sounds even more like a directive all should heed.
Since emerging in 2011, Turkuaz has lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee and Electric Forest,to Telluride Jazz Fest, Lock’n, Red Rocks, and The Fillmore. Their horn-filled funk incorporates elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.
We had a chance to chat with the nonet about the evolution of their music and style over the past nine years.
Q: You guys are entering a new era as a group. Beyond the color scheme change, what evolutions can we expect from Turkuaz in 2020?
A: Well, the color scheme change was inspired by this last EP we released, Kuadrochrome. About 5 years ago, we released its’ predecessor, Stereochrome, which had the band dressing in all black and white. This was followed by 5 years of the “colors” era, as we’re calling it. As much as we and our fans both loved the colors on-stage, 5 years is a lot and we knew it was time for a change. We had a few other songs and arrangements lying around that had yet to be released that fit the vintage style of Stereochrome, and creating a sequel with a four-tone scheme instead of two seemed like a fun and unique opportunity to break out of the rainbow.
As far as what’s to come—we want to keep growing and changing, and being open to whatever that means when inspiration strikes. As mentioned, this last EP leaned more vintage funk/soul, but we’re already working on a ton of new recordings with a wide range of sonic influences. This was more of a palate cleanser or a little pit-stop on our journey. We don’t entirely know where it will lead and that’s part of the fun. The only constant for us at this point will be change. And we look forward to seeing where that takes us in 2020 and beyond.
Q: We’re really excited about the upcoming “Remain in Light” shows with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew. What is that experience going to be like?
A: We’re also very excited about it. We’ve been playing Talking Heads’ music since the inception of our band, and it’s deeply woven into the fabric of what we do. We worked with Jerry on a couple songs a few years back, and we were very happy when he approached us with the idea of doing this tour. Adrian is also a musical force that we have been a fan of for a long time, and getting to play this music with them is a great honor.
Rather than play the record straight through, we’ve been discussing modeling the show partially on the 1980 Rome show which was on the “Remain in Light” tour. This show featured highlights from the record, as well as the rest of their existing catalogue at the time. If you haven’t seen that show, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s truly inspiring and we’re looking forward to pulling ideas from it. Jerry has also mentioned wanting to do some Turkuaz songs which, of course, we’d love to do, as long as it doesn’t distract too much from the vibe of the show we put together. All in all, we want a high energy and fun show that does justice to the import legacy of that music.
Q: The four shows at the Blue Note in Tokyo are amazing, what was your favorite experience from those shows?
A: It was amazing. Playing the shows as well as meeting and interacting with our fans there were both so great, it’s hard to say what the favorite experience was. Simply exploring Japan was also something none of us had ever done, so the entire trip really feels like one meaningful and unforgettable experience.
The Japanese audience there was very different from our typical American audience. In addition to the Blue Note being a jazz club which naturally is a more calm and reserved environment, public space in Japan is generally treated differently and people are incredibly collected and respectful. This creates a concert environment where the audience is sitting and carefully listening to every note. I don’t think one approach is necessarily better than the other, but this was the first time we had ever played to an audience like this and I think we struck a good balance of adapting while also giving them the Turkuaz experience.
Q: Do you have any personal favorites from the shows currently released on nugs.net?
A: Cleveland is a good one, and Brooklyn Steel is our most recent hometown show, so I’m glad that’s in there. The Nashville show has some of the newer stuff we’ve been doing on the Kuadrochrome tour. Overall, I think they’re all pretty solid which is why they’re up there. With a band this size, and so much happening in the arrangements, we’re just looking to continually feature the audio that came out the best as opposed to posting every show. We’re not a jam band with a 100% different setlist every single night, but every show is different by at least 40-70% night-to-night, and we never repeat the same set. We plan on presenting a “best of” every so often to keep a good flow of shows coming. The best is yet to come and we look forward to adding to the catalogue.
Q: What are you guys looking forward to most in 2020?
A: I’m looking forward to all the collaborations. The “Remain in Light” shows will be amazing, and the Brooklyn Comes Alive set we’re doing in March will also be a blast (with Cory Henry, Nate Werth and Robert “Sput” Searight). We also have a ton of new music in the works which we look forward to sharing with the world. We’re also very happy to be part of the Nugs family! It’s gonna be a good year.
Jam Cruise is always an epic experience. From pool-side acoustic daytime sets to 4 AM super jams in the Jam Room, the boat creates an atmosphere unmatched by any other festival. Truly, nowhere else, can you be sailing the high seas with the certainty that the set you are listening to is a once in a lifetime experience. We asked a multi-year patron about what the vibe of the boat was this year, and she simply answered, “The boat was incredible. If you don’t leave there feeling better and more positive than you didn’t smile at enough strangers.” It’s a beautiful thing, being side by side with colorful costumes and expert musicians, braving a storm in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, all while dancing your way through a cruise ship. Whether you’re trying to recover from your fear of missing out or wishing to relive your best vacation of the year, nugs.net has you covered!
Check out our list of select soundboard audio from Jam Cruise 2020, now available to stream and download below:
Steve Kimock Featuring John Kimock, Robert Walter, Reed Mathis, and George Porter Jr.
Umphrey’s McGee wrapped a weekend in the Midwest with a doubleheader featuring their 10th and 11th performances (excluding two VIP sets) at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI on Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. Featuring a wealth of old-school rarities, new songs and fan-requested favorites, this most recent Detroit run is required listening. Major highlights across the two nights were the 400th performance of “Phil’s Farm”, a bust of the Radiohead song “Meeting in the Aisle”, “Words” and an impromptu 10-minute take on the SRV classic “Lenny”, as well as a wide variety of jams and impressive segues, made more impressive by a new breath of creativity from lighting director Ben Factor.
Having performed at The Fillmore over the last ten years, it is their first time bringing a two-night run more than two consecutive years. Umphrey’s McGee, or guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, keyboardist Joel Cummins, drummer Kris Myers, percussionist Andy Farag and bassist Ryan Stasik skipped the venue in 2016 and 2018 before playing two nights in 2017, 2019 and now 2020.
On Friday night they began with a solid 20 minutes dedicated to two originals, “Maybe Someday” and “Whistle Kids” from their recent release it’s not us and the counterpart, it’s you. “Whistle Kids” was stretched out longer than the two and featured a light stepping blues-funk outro riff before the jam slowed into something more ambient. That low-intensity vibe segued neatly into a Radiohead cover of “Meeting in the Aisle” for the first time in 322 shows and 18th overall.
The second biggest surprise of the set was fan favorite “Words”, appearing on 2006’s Safety in Numbers. After the song, Bayliss admitted that the song was requested for the Detroit show the previous year and made good on his promise to play it, on his terms of course.
The old-school song selection continued with a standalone “Mail Package” to split the set. The 2011 Death By Stereo cut “Miami Virtue” featured some of the sets’ most fun improvisation and shouldn’t be skipped. The final 15 minutes of the first set was a fiery “1348” > “The Fuzz” > “1348” segment. “The Fuzz” is another first set bust-out. An old-school favorite, “The Fuzz” was criminally underplayed for several years but has seen a resurgence since late 2018.
The second set was heavy in the middle of the band’s catalog, opening with “North Route”. A soft and ethereal piano intro from Joel Cummins leads the instrumental, but it finishes as an off-kilter and loaded rock ‘n roll anthem. On Friday, they segued that heavy rock into the dance party that is “Bad Friday”. Both songs are relatively recent and share that they were debuted as the first song after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2016 and 2013, respectively.
After a lengthy jam and a quick reprise, the band rested briefly before introducing another heavy rock and under-played favorite, “Go To Hell”. A 25 minute “Mantis” > “Hajimemashite” > “Mantis” segment was off to an incredible start in the first 10 minutes, but somewhere in the transition between the jam and “Haji”, Stasik’s pedalboard was bombed by an airborne tallboy of Budweiser. The music never stopped, which is a credit to the band’s ability to handle the biggest surprises on the fly, inspiring an ad-libbed first verse of “Haji” by Bayliss.
The intense expression of gratitude that is “Little Gift” from 2014’s Similar Skin followed with an explosive improv section led by Cinninger. The band transitioned into a 13-minute standalone “Hurt Bird Bath” to finish the set.
When Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage, Stasik took the
mic and addressed the win of a shiny new tuner and the fact that instead of playing
what they had planned (which was an unnamed cover) they were going to play
“some Michigan shit”. Mid-sentence, Cinninger jumped on the mic to stop a
second beer from being hurled at the stage. The band moved into a quick and
standard take on the Bob Seger classic “Hollywood Nights” and called it a
On Saturday, spirits were high and positive among the crowd and the band despite some sticky pedals and melted faces. Umphrey’s McGee’s sense of humor was on display immediately, beginning the show with “You Got the Wrong Guy” and taking it into the uptempo rock and roll anthem “Mulche’s Odyssey”. Appearing on 2004’s Anchor Drops, the band moved into the much slower and relaxing vibe of the titular track.
From “breathe easy” to “Make It Right”, they moved on from the thrown beer and into a 14-minute “Kabump” party. An off-beat and jazzy improv section kept the crowd moving and bumping around their neighbors. The second jam in the track will put this track on many favorites lists this year as well as the next track, “Sociable Jimmy”. Cummins and Stasik took turns keeping the improv weird and funky, drawing it out into a psychedelic peak with frenetic fretwork from Cinninger before falling back into the song’s ending.
A stark contrast to the dance frenzy of the last 25 minutes, the band carved out a soft landing for a bust out of “The Pequod” at the request of long-time fan Erik Johnson for his 100th show. After a brief and beautiful respite, the band used the last nine minutes of the set for an upbeat “Day Nurse”. There’s a hot Michael Jackson tease of “Workin’ Day or Night” which could have tricked some fans into thinking a “Night Nurse” was also on her way.
The second set of the night got off to a great start with a 15-minute standalone “Phil’s Farm”. One of the band’s oldest tracks and appearing on their debut album Greatest Hits Vol III, the Detroit “Phil’s” marked the 400th time the band played the song since they debuted it at their very first show 22 years earlier. It is the 10th song in the Umphrey’s McGee catalog to break the 400 mark with “Jajunk”, “Push the Pig” and “Ringo” all less than ten performances away as well.
They followed one of their oldest songs with their newest release, “Suxity”. A reworking of a track called “Fresh Start” from 2007’s The Bottom Half, the song bounces between angsty 90s grunge and uptempo funk. A major uplifting jam bridged the song and a ten-minute take on “Lenny” – which was a total audible and not on the working setlist.
For the next 45 minutes and for the second half of the set, the band only played three songs. Leading with the extended and psychedelic discombobulation into of a standalone “Believe the Lie” and into “Jajunk”, the band was firing on all cylinders. For the final song of the set, “August”, Bayliss shone throughout, taking multiple leads and letting the melody soar.
For the encore, Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage for the second performance of “Bullshit Anthem” since debuting at the most recent New Year’s Eve run in Denver. A funk-laden cover by Oakland, CA native Xavier Dphrepaulezz, aka Fantastic Negrito, the song featured Myers on lead vocals. They ended the show with the conclusion of “Jajunk”.
This weekly podcast caters to music lovers within the jam band community, featuring artists like Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic and more. During the show, host Kory French works through his weekly playlist of new releases and old favorites, giving listeners some history on the songs and the bands behind them.
If you’re looking for all music and no-frills, then this is the podcast for you. It’s 3+ hours of live/studio jam band music. You can find the playlists for each episode on their website: endlessboundaries.com
A Female run podcast that discusses all things Phish from a woman’s point of view. Listen as they interview Phish’s community members, play games like “Market Price” and discuss the latest goings-on in the Phish scene online and on the lot.
Hosted by music journalist Dean Budnick, LMTR tells the story of a band, their fans, and the journey that made them one of the most successful touring bands of all time. With over 50 interviews, season one of LMTR focuses on Phish, shedding light on how they pioneer an entire industry on many impactful and important levels, doing it their way.
This podcast looks back on Phish’s Big Cypress festival 20 years later—examining the legacy for Phish and the music world. Hosted and narrated by Jesse Jarnow, this five-episode series draws on interviews with members of Phish and its crew, fan memories, and conversations with other people across the music industry.
nugs.net founder Brad Serling’s podcast guides fans through a playlist of recent live music from artists like Phish, Dead & Company, The Allman Brothers, Pearl Jam, Metallica, The Raconteurs, Wilco, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, and more.
Harris and Scott are comedians, music lovers, and friends. Where do they differ? Harris loves Phish, and Scott does not. On Analyze Phish, Harris navigates the vast landscape of Phish’s catalog to find entry points for Scott while trying to explain the live Phish experience without the use of illegal substances.
Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum explore the Grateful Dead’s celebrated Dick’s Picks live series. The show takes a deep dive into the 36 Dick’s Picks entries, the history of the Dead organization, and popular culture around each show.
In this podcast, Jon Barber dives deep into analysis and commentary of The Disco Biscuits and talks about his role in the band, music, technology and other topics. Jon also brings on a variety of exciting and inspiring guests to co-host with him.
The Sound Podcast is a music discovery interview-style podcast, hosted by Ira Haberman. Featuring Jam Bands and more… much more. Rooted in Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Funk, Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Soul but mostly Jam Band music. New episodes of The Sound Podcast are available Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Wednesday episode is exclusively a live music playlist called LIVEFIVE powered by nugs.net.
This is a Podcast about Music – Industry, Festivals/Concerts, and Culture. It’s a mix of the Fan (Rob Turner) and Industry (Seth Weiner w/ Shimon Presents, Inc.) perspectives. Their presentation style can be difficult to jive with, but their guests are top-notch!
By nugs.net Staff Member and fan, Arya Jha Photos by Kory Thibeault. Check out more of his work at @korythibeaultphot
On Friday, January 24th, The Infamous Stringdusters returned to the legendary Fillmore, bringing a high energy performance to a nearly sold-out crowd in San Francisco. The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass quintet started off the show with a “Shakedown Street” tease, igniting the audience into a roar. Moving quickly into fan-favorite “Carry Me Away” they continued on into “Wake The Dead” which ended in heavy jamming and a battle between the dobro player, Andy Hall, and fiddliest Jeremy Garrett. Set one continued on with ISD classics like “Let Me Know” and “Steam Powered Aeroplane” alongside Shakedown teases which continued on throughout the entire show. “Gravity” brought the audience to a standstill with a soul moving performance and an epic dobro solo. The set ended with the psychedelic, playful yet dark, “Echoes of Goodbye” leaving the audience wanting more.
Set two brought the heat with a “Midnight Moonlight” opener, yet another nod to the legendary Fillmore, which came to little surprise after they mentioned the venue as one of their favorite places to play in the country. Set Two highlights included “Rise Sun”, the title track off the Dusters latest album, and a 13-minute jam of “No More To Leave You Behind”. They kept the audience engaged with covers of the Band’s “Cripple Creek”, Phish’s “2001″, and finally a full rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street”. Listening closely to the end of set one you’ll even find a “Dark Star” tease! The show continued on with a two-song encore, resting their instrument down after “Sunny Side Of The Mountain” which played well past the venue’s curfew.
Last week, Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum launched 36 From The Vault, a new podcast exploring the Grateful Dead’s celebrated Dick’s Picks live series. The show takes a deep dive into the 36 Dick’s Picks entries, the history of the Dead organization, and popular culture around each show. We caught up with Steven and Rob to find out more about the new series.
nugs: What makes Dick’s Picks unique amongst other official releases from the Grateful Dead?
Rob Mitchum: One of the joys of doing the podcast so far is doing a deep dive into who Dick was and how he came to be associated with the Dead organization. His background and the whole process in selecting the shows is really sort of fascinating early on. The key thing about Dick, I think, is that he came to the Grateful Dead organization already a huge tape trader and fan. He had that fan’s perspective and brought it to the organization. Everybody who was working for the Dead from the band to the crew to the people running the business had been inside for so long that they kind of lost perspective about what the outside world wanted from them. And that’s especially important for this kind of archival release series.
Dick was giving the fans what they want. He had his own sort of peculiar pov on what needed to be put out there. He talked a lot in early interviews about the fact that the band, by ‘93 certainly, never listened to the tapes. The only one who was interested in even participating in choosing or rejecting shows was Phil and he was doing all rejecting and no choosing basically, so he really slowed down the release in the early days. But Dick was super enthusiastic about all this music and would come across something like the “Here Comes Sunshine” that’s on Volume One and say, “We have to get this out there! Deadheads have got to hear this.” He would just argue and argue that it needed to be put out there and finally ended up winning some of these arguments with Phil. We’re all very lucky to have had his perspective on the inside at that point. Certainly, they wouldn’t have put out as much without Dick advocating for it and what they would have put out maybe wouldn’t have been as satisfying.
Steven Hyden: I think what makes the Dead unique in a lot of ways in terms of how their archive is handled is that they are probably the biggest example of fans stepping into the place of the band as stewards of the band’s history. The fans of the Grateful Dead have had such a big role in ultimately shaping the perception of how this band is perceived and I think mostly for the better. I think Dick is an example of this and there are lots of other people, lots of the Deadheads, who have much better taste in Dead music than the members themselves. If not for them there’d be a lot of great music that wouldn’t have been put out there for whatever reason. I think it’s a really interesting aspect of their history, the role that fans have played in writing and maybe correcting it in a lot of ways.
nugs: You guys mention in the podcast that the Dick’s Picks shows are a sort-of medium between the studio sound of early official releases and the DIY sound of bootleg tapes. What is it that distinguishes the sound of a Dick’s Picks show?
SH: It was kind of like the best of both worlds in a way where you could get something that sounded pretty good but it wasn’t overly professional or it didn’t have a ton of overdubs on it. It is interesting doing this show and realizing how much actually was done to these tapes in terms of just cutting songs out or like resequencing songs. The first Dick’s Picks record I ever got was Volume One and I wasn’t aware of how much had been taken out of there until I did this podcast. I heard you could stream the shows that they took that from and pretty much the whole first set is gone from Dick’s Picks Volume One. So it wasn’t quite as unedited as I assumed it was but still much less polished than a regular studio record would be.
nugs: On the note of live albums missing sections or being re-sequenced, what makes the six-song uninterrupted section in the second set of Dick’s Picks Volume One so special?
RM: One of the cool things that I think Dick’s Picks allowed the Dead to do is put out some of these hour-long song suites that they used to do regularly live. For a lot of reasons, they hadn’t really represented that on their official “live” albums. I think Live Dead probably gets the closest to it but even that one is spliced between I think two or three shows. A lot of their other live albums were sort of grab bags of best versions from a particular tour or run. If they’re edited together it was done in the studio later on by combining versions from different shows and things like that. What was sort of revolutionary at time was finally having a pretty solid unabridged hour of music and segues from the show on an easy compact-disc format. Usually, that was the domain of tapes and not something you could get your hands on in official quality.
SH: It really is amazing how spoiled people are now with this kind of stuff. I was just thinking about myself with Phish for instance. I only started listening to Phish in the 2010s. I’m used to an era where the show ends and within a couple of minutes there’s an instant show to stream online that’s a master and sounds great. At your fingertips, there’s an entire show. We’re so used to that now. Revisiting the series is a reminder that even getting part of a show that sounded this good was kind of a unique thing. it was a much harder thing to attain than it is now.
RM: That’s going back to before a time nugs.net spoiled music fans. But yeah, I think one of the interesting things I’ve learned from the start of the series is how the Dead organization was very nervous about whether this would actually work, which is crazy in retrospect. Now the Dead put out like eight to ten live releases a year or something like that between Dave’s Picks and the other box sets they do.
Dick, Kidd Candelario and a couple of other people that were involved in the start of the series really had to argue with the band, the organization, and the record label to do this. Even the permission they got was only to sell it through mail order and do a very low run for the time of only 25,000 copies each volume. Dick wanted to do complete shows but they wouldn’t commit at the time because they only wanted to do, at most, 2 discs. Of course, you can’t get a complete show on two discs. There were all these handicaps put on the project from the start just because they were worried that it might be a commercial bust.
SH: I guess maybe the Dead’s defense back in the early ‘90s was that putting out something that’s pretty unvarnished risks being picked apart. Especially by a fan base as critical as the Dead’s. So I understand their trepidation from that perspective, they didn’t want to put out something that was maybe less than perfect. And in the show that we just did, there’s this whole thing about editing out this terrible Phil Lesh bass solo. When you listen to the show it’s actually kind of good that it’s not there because that part of the album flows so well, it’s like really the best part of the whole release. But there is a part of you as a purist that’s like “oh I wish that was in there because that’s actually what happened.” The fact that they were willing to release Dick’s Picks as they did is a little bit of a leap of faith, to expose yourself in that way.
nugs: You guys have hinted that the show could explore some other artists along the way, what can we expect down the line from the podcast?
RM: Steven and I are both fans of the live album format in general and the Dick’s Picks series is such a revelation in how live albums can work for a band, doing more archival releases than polished live album releases. So I think we’re interested in those types of archival releases from other bands. Like Steve was talking about earlier, telling the story of the band through this very particular kind of release is a concept that fits the Dead perfectly and they were the ones that set the template for that. But there are other bands that do that as well and that’s the kind of thing we’d like to explore down the line or in special episodes
nugs: In the first episode, you guys go deep into the context around the show. You even dive into how the venue was named after a corrupt Tampa mayor. Is that something we can expect more of in future episodes?
SH: Part of the appeal for us doing this show was that it’s a chance to talk about the Grateful Dead, but it’s also an excuse to explore music history and pop culture history in a fun way. You could time travel back to December of 1973 and look at what’s happening in the world at that time and get a sense of what it would have been like to be at that show. Rob and I were both born several years after this show and I never got to see the Grateful Dead live at all. I’ve only ever experienced them through recordings. The time travel aspect of listening to live tapes is enhanced when you can look at the rest of the world at that time and see how that influenced what was going on.
RM: Yeah, I think a lot of times people tend to consider the history of the Dead in sort of a vacuum. They were always an oddball in the music industry so people tend to consider the Dead and their different eras in a silo without thinking about the cultural context of the time. What was going on in the music industry? What was going on in film? What was going on in the news?
Each show kind of gives us an opportunity to do that which is really fun. Looking at the different venues they played and seeing who else was playing that venue around the same time, It’s fun to be like “You know they played this show in Tampa not long after David Bowie was there on the Diamond Dogs tour.” A bunch of the shows in the ‘70s were within a month or two of like an Elvis appearance at the same venue. The other things that were sort of bobbing around in the culture at the time, of course, were going to have an influence on the Dead. They might have been doing their own thing but there’s certainly some bleed over you can hear from the bands, arts, and society that was around them.
SH: Another thing for Rob and I with this show was to approach it as huge fans of the Grateful Dead without being too clinical or scholarly about it. I think that we both want to have a sense of humor about the band. They’re a brilliant band, but they’re also kind of a goofy band. Craziness and brillance always co-mingled with this band and it’s part of what makes them so much fun to talk about.
I think that spirit of fun and reverence that’s inside the Grateful Dead is something that we wanted to have on this show and I think that’s a pretty big part of what we’re doing. I always feel like the best kind of music criticism should feel like listening to music and I hope that we have a little bit of that element of the Dead in our show.
Railroad Earth: Saturday 1/18/20 Live at The Fillmore in San Francisco
Photos provided by concert photographer Kory Thibeault. Check out more of his work at @korythibeaultphoto
Recap provided by nugs.net staff member and Railroad Earth fan Arya Jha
Railroad Earth’s Saturday night performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco was a non-stop dance party. Perhaps it was due to a well-received performance the night before, but by the time the band hit the stage they were well past warmed up and ready to rock. Railroad’s first song of the night “Lordy, Lordy” quickly transitioned from high tempo drumming and long bass riffs into a multi-layered psychedelic jam, setting the tone for a night full of solos and melodies held together by a seemingly infinite rhythm.
Set one continued on, taking a journey through ebbs and flows of uplifting harmonies. The crowd started to settle in and just as the effects of a beautiful light show against the band’s custom made backdrop quieted and entranced the audience, the band busted into spacey but tight banjo-led twang, bringing the room into a knee-slapping roar. ‘Old Man and the Land’ segued nicely into ‘Black Bear’ and bassist Andrew Altman segued nicely into upright bass, maintaining the foundation and tempo of the set regardless. Fiddler Tim Carbone led the band into an upbeat ‘Cuckoo’s Medley’ to end the set as Bill Graham’s chandeliers lit up the ceiling of the venue in a wave of colors.
Railroad Earth’s more recent shows have defied the classical bluegrass and even jam-grass genres through their use of the funk forward B3 Organ, an instrument rarely used by projects whose core is also determined by fiddle and mandolin. It was a true pleasure to see Matt Slocum on keys, and even better to hear how well his Leslie Whirl paired with Mike Robinson’s steel pedal shredding. While set one provided a great deal of harmonic energy, set two opened up room for alternative leads, from Todd Sheaffer’s acoustic guitar to Carey Harmon’s drums, and everything between. Always a crowd-pleaser “Elko” jammed on as fans tossed cards high into the sky in tribute to the lyrics, a true testament to the fanatic Northern California community the band has bred through their annual headlining sets at NorCal’s Hangtown Music Festival. “Captain Nowhere” segued into “1759” segued into “Fisherman’s Blues” played more like ballads but kept the crowd moving. Finally, in an emotional tribute to the historic venue and Jerry Garcia’s San Francisco roots came the short but sweet encore “Old and In The Way”. This show will easily be a fan favorite to regular Railroad Earth listeners, but also a wonderful start to their catalog if you are not yet versed. Railroad Earth’s live show recordings live on nugs.net and you can listen to the two night Fillmore run today.
Starting today, nugs.net subscribers can experience The Rolling Stones like never before. Filmed with stellar quality, a collection of vintage performances from The Rolling Stones’ Vault is now streaming in the videos section of the nugs.net app. There are currently three shows from the 1970s available to watch with more on the way soon. Now is your chance to watch Mick, Keith, and the rest of the band during the golden age of Rock’n’Roll.
We’re back for the first Third Man Thursday of the year and this month’s release is a unique treat. Today, Third Man Records is releasing The White Stripes’ 2001 show at Orange House in Munich, Germany. The show is one of only two known White Stripes shows to be recorded on reel-to-reel tape. Third Man Records’ Co-Founder Ben Blackwell’s write up details the unique process of mastering this show from the 1/4″ tapes:
This show is a remarkable performance in stellar quality. Boy do the Germans know how to record! Of particular interest was the fact that a radio broadcast in 2001 was recorded to 1/4” tape. Just seems like…such an anachronistic move. The fact that the tapes ended up in the Third Man Vault made it all the better to transfer at an appropriately-high bitrate and then share them here. But the tapes themselves were in an incredibly odd iteration which I had never even seen before. They weren’t on reels (or flanges) and instead the tape was all held together by sheer tension around a metal center piece that looks reminiscent of a 45rpm adaptor. I am told they are called AEG hubs. Additionally, the tape was wound with the reels magnetic side OUT. Leave it to our main man Bill Skibbe to track down a German Telefunken tape machine IN DETROIT and work magic on his end. The heads on Telefunken machines face IN, so he had to surgically unspool, respool, edit out dead space AND track down a step up converter as the machine only runs on 220v electricity. I wish everyone had their very own Bill Skibbe to solve technological quandaries like this. I mean, he IS for hire at Third Man Mastering, but I digress.
There are some songs missing here that are included in audio circulating amongst fans, in this instance clearly missed by engineers swapping out reels in real time. Rather than try to include from inferior sourced audio, we’ve chosen to just present the show exactly as it exists on these original tapes. Save for one EARLY gig (1997?) I am unaware of any other White Stripes performances that were captured on reel-to-reel tape, so this feels extra-special. Starting the set with “Death Letter” is peculiar and I love it…I can’t recall any other Stripes performance beginning with that song, but I’m sure some die-hard will take the opportunity to tell me otherwise! Coupled with rousing takes on “Love Sick” and “The Union Forever” the entire performance captivates. A prime example of the on-fire abandon Jack and Meg were brimming with in 2001.
Since 1976, Austin City Limits has been providing Texas and the rest of the world with iconic live sessions. Over the holidays New West Records added more than 15 of the greatest ACL performances of all time to the nugs.net catalog. Experience legendary performances from artists like Guided By Voices, Kris Kristofferson, David Byrne, Steve Earle, and more. The performances span four decades with shows from 1976 through 2004. Each show is available to purchase in the nugs.net store and you can stream the whole collection with the nugs.net app.
We’ve got four action-packed shows from last month’s Strings and Sol festival now streaming. Listen to performances from The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, and Railroad Earth that feature tons of debuts and guests. There are two sets to check out from The Infamous Stringdusters. On December 13th they played a beach set and the next day they returned with a debut cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” The Leftover Salmon show features Del and Ronnie McCoury on a pair of tunes and multiple live debuts.