Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: 2/1/2019

I was recently at a party at my friend Ilene’s house, and she asked me if I was familiar with this band. I told her I had never heard of them, and she told me they were really good, and that her and her husband had gotten some comp VIP passes and that they could get me one if I was interested. Far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to see a show for free. So they secured me a freebie and I listened to some of their stuff to familiarize myself with their music.

How to describe them? They are definitely a jam band, but they have a bit of a funk sound too. Their stuff is upbeat and danceable. I figured it would be a good time, and when I saw that the show was sold out, I suspected it would be pretty high-energy too.

I met Ilene and her husband Jonathan outside the venue. They got us the VIP wristbands, which allowed us to sit in the reserved section on the side of the stage. Not that it was really reserved. It was still pretty much open season for the freaks who chose to wedge themselves in there.

The opening act was a band called The Fritz. They are local, but very good. I had remembered a friend telling me about them. They were better than your average opener.

PPPP came on around 10ish, and they were pumped. Definitely feeding off the energy from the audience. And they played a looooooong time—finishing up about 1:00 am. Two solid sets and an encore. I was definitely feeling tired toward the end, but forced myself to stay until the end, which is a testament to how good they were.

In between sets, I ran into my friend Andy. I had not seen him in years, so it was a nice surprise. He had come into town specifically to see the band and was planning to see them the following night in Raleigh. I didn’t realize that following Pigeons was a thing, but I guess it is.

After the show, as I exited the venue to walk to my car, I was surprised to find people selling balloons full of nitrous oxide. Nitrous?! People still do that shit? I suppose some things never change in the jam-band scene. It made me think of a quote from the Netflix show, “Big Mouth”: “They’re jam bands. They’re the tools of Big Nitrous.”

Anyway, here’s the setlist, followed by a few pictures I snapped at the show. Rock on!

Set 1

  • Melting Lights >
  • Whirled
  • Penguins >
  • Funkijam >
  • Funk E. Zekiel
  • Fortress
  • Yo Soy Fiesta
  • J-Town
  • Poseidon >
  • Jessica >
  • Poseidon

Set 2

  • Live Life / Upfunk
  • Snake Eyes
  • Horizon >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Bare Necessities >
  • I Wanna Be Like You >
  • Horizon
  • Drunk People
  • Walk Outside
  • Ocean Flows

Encore:

  • Doc

 

The Fritz

 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

 

PPPP w/ Jamar Woods from Fritz on keys
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Warren Haynes 30th Anniversary Christmas Jam – Second Night: 12/8/2018

The second night of the Christmas Jam was faced with a winter storm, which dumped significant snow on Asheville. Because of the expected difficulties, those who did not feel comfortable venturing out were given the option to stream the show from home. Since I live only about a mile from the venue, I of course went and brought a warm jacket so I could walk home afterwards.

I went with my friend Seth, and we grabbed some barbecue before heading over to the show. When we got there, I was elated to see throngs of scalpers desperately trying to sell off their tickets for below face value in a lame attempt to recoup some of their money. It makes me happy to see scalpers suffering and losing money. I have no sympathy for those vampires who feed off others.

Anyway, the second night boasted a stellar lineup of headline acts:

  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Jim James
  • Dave Grohl and Friends
  • Eric Church
  • Gov’t Mule

In addition, there were also the guest musicians who graced the stage on the first night of the Jam.

The show began with a collaboration of guest musicians jamming and warming up the crowd. That was followed by Joe Bonamassa, who I was probably the most excited to see. As a guitarist, I was eager to see the blues great perform live. He did not disappoint. After he played, all I could think was that I would hate to be a musician having to follow that guitarist. But, the rest of the show was right up there in caliber.

Sadly, my friend Seth left right after Bonamassa’s set. Snow was already piling up and he was concerned about not being able to make it home. Thankfully, I had other friends who were there, and I made the rounds, sitting with various friends throughout the evening.

There were many high points that night, but probably the best for me was when Gov’t Mule kicked off their set with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” segueing into Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” then back into “Rockin’ in the Free World,” with Dave Grohl playing guitar with them. UNBELIEVABLE! Here is a video recording on YouTube for those who are interested.

Not long after that, I decided to cut out a little early and start walking home. It was already past 1:00 am, and I knew it would be a cold trudge through the deep snow. But actually, it was kind of nice, in the surreal early morning darkness. Here is a picture I snapped on the walk home.

Here are the setlists from the headline acts. Hope you all have a rockin’ New Year, and may 2019 bring you lots of live music!

Setlists:

Joe Bonamassa:

  • Beck’s Bolero >
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spanish Boots
  • SWLABR
  • I Can’t Quit You Baby
  • How Many More Times

Jim James:

  • Just a Fool
  • Throwback
  • All Over the World
  • Here in Spirit
  • Over and Over
  • Better Get Together While Still Got Time
  • No Secrets
  • A New Life >
  • State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

Dave Grohl:

  • Play
  • Times Like These (with Warren Haynes)
  • Everlong

Eric Church:

  • Desperate Man
  • Record Year
  • Carolina
  • Smoke a Little Smoke
  • Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More (with Warren Haynes)
  • Atlantic City (with Warren Haynes)
  • Diddy Wah Diddy (with Warren Haynes)
  • The Weight (with Warren Haynes)

Gov’t Mule:

  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl) >
  • Machine Gun  (with Dave Grohl) (instrumental) >
  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl)
  • Thorazine Shuffle
  • Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  • Million Miles From Yesterday
  • Dreams and Songs
  • Red Baron
  • Mule

Warren Haynes 30th Anniversary Christmas Jam – First Night: 12/7/2018

The Christmas Jam has become a holiday tradition for me. Every year since I moved to Asheville, NC, I have attended the Jam, and it is always great. This year, Warren held the Jam over two nights, which was consistent with the 20th and 25th. I, of course, planned on going both nights.

Ticket purchasing has become a challenge, even in the small city of Asheville. Scalpers and bots scoop up tickets and resell them through TicketMaster and scalper sites like Stub Hub, making it tough for fans to acquire tickets. For that reason, I went down early in the morning to the box office and was first in line. This proved advantageous, since the box office opened the window 5 minutes prior to when TicketMaster opened the online sales. I got reserved seats for both nights, and then found to my dismay that many of my friends who tried to buy online got shut out, all reserved seats gone in less than 2 minutes. The bots strike again! Now for my quick PSA—Scalpers are scum. No matter how much you want to see a show, don’t ever buy from a “verified reseller” for more than face value. As long as you do, these bottom feeders will continue to ruin music for all of us.

OK, stepping down from the soapbox and getting on with the show.

First night I went with my wife and daughter. The lineup was pretty solid. The headliners included:

  • Dark Side of the Mule
  • Grace Potter
  • Mike Gordon
  • Jamey Johnson
  • Marco Benevento

In addition, there were a bunch of guest musicians, including: Audley Freed, Jen Gunderman, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimmy Vivino, Kevn Kinney, Mike Barnes, Robert Kearns, Ron Holloway, and Tyler Ramsey. There were others who were not announced. Sorry, but don’t remember them all.

The show went on until after 2:00 am, and I think this was the first time my wife made it to the very end. While the entire show was great, Dark Side of the Mule was by far the highlight. Gov’t Mule performed a long Pink Floyd set, complete with lasers and an incredible light show. It was a great way to end a marathon night of music.

The only negative about this night was Jamey Johnson. He was good, and I liked the music he played, but he was painfully loud. Now I am not one to shy away from loud music, so if I consider a band to be too loud, they are probably too loud. He obviously missed the memo that when playing country music, you do not need to turn the amps up to 11. Leave that setting for Spinal Tap.

I could not find all the setlists, but I found a few. I will add others if I find them. Also, I’m including a few pictures that I snapped. And for those who are interested, here is a video of Dark Side of the Mule, with the full on lasers.

Rock on, and check back soon for my post on the second night.

Setlists:

Marco Benevento

  • The Story Of Fred Short (Intro) >
  • Seven Twenty Two >
  • Walking With Tyrone
  • Live A Certain Life
  • Stay In Line
  • I Can’t See The Light >
  • Follow The Arrow
  • Band Introductions/Banter
  • Greenpoint
  • Pepper

Mike Gordon

  • Say Something
  • Whirlwind
  • Peel
  • Victim > Sweet Emotion
  • Pendulum
  • Wild and Blue
  • Do You Still Drink About Me
  • Crazy Sometimes

Grace Potter

  • Gold Dust Woman (w Warren Haynes and Jim James)
  • Medicine
  • Empty Heart
  • Not Fade Away > Stars
  • The Lion the Beast the Beat
  • Paris (Ooh La La)
  • I Shall Be Released

Dark Side of the Mule:

  • Pigs on the Wing 2
  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
  • Have a Cigar
  • Breathe
  • On the Run
  • Time
  • Breathe (Reprise)
  • The Great Gig in the Sky
  • Money
  • Us and Them
  • (with Jim James on lead vocals)
  • Any Colour You Like
  • Welcome to the Machine
  • One of These Days
  • Fearless
  • Echoes, Part 1
  • Comfortably Numb

Encore:

  • Wish You Were Here

 

Warren kicking off the show

 

Mike Gordon
Grace Potter
Dark Side of the Mule

Galactic with Corey Glover: 2/9/2011

Sometimes, people win stuff. For example, I entered a drawing hosted by the local radio station to win tickets to Galactic, and I won! Woo Hoo! Corey Glover, the lead singer from Living Colour, was slated to be a guest vocalist with Galactic, which I was pretty psyched about. I do love Living Colour.

I asked my friend Scott if he wanted to go, since my wife was not up for it. He readily accepted the freebie and we headed to the Orange Peel for the show.

We got there in time to see the opening band, Orgone (I am assuming a phonetic spelling of Oregon). They were forgettable, but I don’t recall them sucking, so that was good.

Galactic took the stage and played some solid jams. Glover came out occasionally to lend his vocals, which was incredible. They sounded AWESOME together.

I could not find the setlist from this show online, but I did find some videos from this particular show. Here is a killer one of Galactic w Glover performing “8 Days On The Road.” Enjoy!

Grateful Dead: 4/3/1990

This was the third and final night of the run of shows at the Omni. Things get stranger and stranger the more time you spend in the Grateful Dead environment, and while the first two nights proved weird (first night / second night), this day was not without its weirdness.

As was par for the course, we managed to get to the show early and found a spot amid the colorful caravan of freaks in the parking lot. Armando, Tim, and I were hanging out, sitting on the hood of the car, watching the parade of oddities move past. Then this one particularly wild-eyed casualty came up to us. His face looked recently scabbed, like he’d taken a nasty fall and scraped his face on the asphalt. He walked up to us with eyes darting schizophrenically around, like a cartoon character.

“Have you seen the Easter Bunny?”

The three of us were puzzled. Armando pressed him for more information: “The Easter Bunny?”

“Yeaaaaaah. I keep hearing the Easter Bunny. Don’t you hear the Easter Bunny? I hear the Easter Bunny!”

I replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah man, I hear the Easter Bunny too.” I had no idea what this guy was talking about.

Then he excitedly pointed to a car a little ways down the aisle, where a crowd of freaks was standing around an entrepreneur with a tank of nitrous oxide gas, selling balloons full of nitrous. “There’s the Easter Bunny!!” And he stumbled off to join the line of people waiting to buy nitrous gas. We finally figured out that this dude must have thought the balloons looked like Easter Eggs. The guy clearly spent way too much time in Grateful Dead parking lots.

After a while, he came back, balloon in hand and smile on his face. “Easter Bunny.” He proceeded to inhale the gas, and we watched as his eyes rolled back in his head and he muttered incomprehensibly. After a while, he wandered off, and we concluded that the Easter Bunny dude must have blacked out from huffing gas, smashed his face on the ground, and sustained his injuries. I felt sad for him. Another lost soul.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We went in to the concert and ran into some friends of ours from South Florida, which was cool. We all hung out together, danced, and had a great time digging the music. The next day we would make the trek back to Miami.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Set 1:

  • Shakedown Street
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • We Can Run But We Can’t Hide
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Row Jimmy Row
  • Picasso Moon
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Promised Land

Set 2:

  • Estimated Prophet
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Drums > Space
  • I Will Take You Home
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Not Fade Away

Encore:

  • We Bid You Goodnight

Grateful Dead: 4/2/1990

This was the second of a three-night set of shows at the Omni in Atlanta. My friends and I got to the show early (well, as early as possible considering the long night of music the night before), parked the car in the lot, and proceeded to hang out, enjoying the people watching.

At one point, another vehicle pulled into a space near us with obvious trepidation. We watched as the driver slowly and carefully maneuvered the car into the spot, then backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out, and pulled back in again. And backed out… After several attempts, the dude pulled completely out, then moved on to a new spot a little further down the row. And pulled in, and backed out, repeating the same back and forth as in the first spot. We decided to make a game of it, trying to anticipate his next move. This resulted in a fit of laughter that lasted until the driver finally gave up and drove off and out of view. When it was time to go into the show, I couldn’t help wondering if the guy ever found a comfortable parking space.

This evening, our seats were in the upper left, also known as the Phil Zone because of the proximity to bassist Phil Lesh. IT was actually was one of my favorite areas to sit at a Dead show, since it provided a good view of the band as they were interacting. Anyway, during intermission, my friend Tim began to exhibit some strange behavior, which caused Armando and myself some slight degree of concern.

Tim: “Is this fun?”

Armando: “Well, yeah. We’re seeing the Dead and having a good time. It’s fun.”

Me: nodding in agreement.

Tim: “I just realized. I’m the creator!”

Me: “Oh yeah. I understand. That’s cool.”

Tim: “No! You don’t understand. It’s like… I’m the Creator!”

At this point, I figured it best to disengage. Thankfully, not long afterwards, the lights went off and the band came out for the second set. I snuck an occasional furtive glance at my friend, who was sweating and struggling, but eventually he seemed to shift into a better space. Before long, he was dancing and back to his old self. Tragedy narrowly averted.

As far as the show goes, it was a solid show, with a bit of a surprise. They played “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” which they did not seem to play much, and was the only time I had seen the band perform that song. I distinctly recall Jerry delivering a powerful vocal performance, reaching deep and expressing some strong emotion. I wondered if someone close to the band had recently passed away, especially since they also played “He’s Gone.” I never found an answer to the question, but I definitely had the sense that the song selection conveyed someone’s death.

Here is the full setlist from the show. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • The Weight
  • Queen Jane Approximately
  • Easy to Love You
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Let it Grow

Set 2:

  • Foolish Heart
  • Looks Like Rain
  • He’s Gone
  • The Last Time
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Death Don’t Have No Mercy
  • Around and Around
  • Good Lovin’

Encore:

  • Black Muddy River

Grateful Dead: 4/1/1990

Another Spring Tour with the Grateful Dead. By this point, it had become a tradition. I made the trek from South Florida to Atlanta with my two friends, Armando and Tim, who I met at a Dead show at Madison Square Garden.

This first night was an April Fool’s show, which was recorded and several songs later appeared on an album.

The Grateful Dead performed three consecutive shows during their Built to Last Tour on April 1–3, 1990. The shows were recorded and three songs from their April Fool’s Day show “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” were included on their live album, entitled Without a Net.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We made it up there with no mishaps, secured our hotel accommodations, and went to the first night’s show. We got there early and spent some time checking out the parking lot scene, procuring tee shirts and other wares which were being hawked.

After shopping, we were hanging out by the car when a strange person approached us… strange even by the Grateful Dead parking lot standard. The young man clearly was suffering from chemically induced mental illness. As he began conversing with us, it became clear that he was a crack head struggling with his addiction to crack cocaine. He talked to us about Mr. Rocky, who was an anthropomorphic embodiment of crack rocks.

“Mr. Rocky. You know Mr. Rocky, right? Mr. Rocky. He destroys you mentally, and physical-al-al-lee.”

We talked with the poor soul for a while, before he meandered off on his lonely way. I felt sad for the guy. I had seen people go down that road, and it is a sad road from which few can redeem their lives.

When the time came, we went into the Omni and took our seats, which were lower section at the side of the stage. The show was very good, and hearing Jerry sing “To Lay Me Down” was particularly moving. It is a song that I still love to play on the acoustic guitar, which transitions between major and minor chords in such a way as to stir deep emotion.

Anyway, here is the full setlist from the April Fool’s show.

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Just a Little Light
  • Candyman
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Big River
  • Althea
  • Victim or the Crime
  • To Lay Me Down
  • Music Never Stopped

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower
  • I Know You Rider
  • Ship of Fools
  • Man Smart/Woman Smarter
  • Drums > Space
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Hey Jude Reprise
  • Truckin’
  • Stella Blue
  • Sugar Magnolia

Encore:

  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue