Friday, December 11, 2009

Harnessing the "Energy"

Mr. Miner did a great piece on the energy that was so prevalent during the indoor fall tour, which got me thinking about what we heard indoors that differed so greatly from the outdoor throw-downs of late summer.

Summer gave us such great hope after the organic improvisations of Red Rocks, Gorge and the East Coast that we assumed this would carry over into the high intensity bowels of the indoor arena.

But tour started, and while there were great moments, more often than not jams seemed to fade away or follow easily identifiable formulas and build to deafening crescendos instead of textured paradises.

While the causes are plenty, many are focusing on Trey holding back, either due to needing more comfort on stage or because of some mental association of type 2 jamming with drugs.

I'd like to take a different view.

I think Trey wasn't holding back at all. If you were at MSG, there's no way you could say that Trey was laying back or taking it easy. He was bouncing from minute one through the last note of the third show, peaking with First Tube.

The problem, as it seems to me, may be an inability at this moment to properly harness the power of an indoor show.

The vast audience lawns and lush landscapes of summer provided a perfect backdrop to let the band reacquaint themselves with sonic exploration. The first leg provided peeks and snippets, but they tore loose in the mountains of Colorado and never looked back until the last notes of SPAC.

Fall tours have always been powerhouse events full of dark and murky dance grooves and psychedelia, but with the band's new focus on finding the happiness and JOY in their music many of the formerly evil turns the music would have taken in the past turned into soaring major chord progressions or choppy funk-ish rhythms as they weren't sure where each other intended the jam to go.

By C'ville (my fourth show in a row) it was clear that Trey was relying on a small set of riffs and licks that attracted audience applause and usually were in combo with a powerful moment of lighting from Kuroda.

At the same time, the creativity rediscovered during the late summer tour continued to evolve. Though more predictable than ever, if its going to take them playing Light every three shows to regain the magic, then so be it. At some point it will all click again.

Not many of us have ever been in the position of doing something the same way for 20 years, having our crutch, or whatever you want to call it taken away, then trying to make it be the same.


A note on MSG 3:

MSG3 just wasn't my type of show. Lots of great playing, a terrific setlist, but perhaps just a little too straightforward. I was expecting a legendary destruction of the Garden, and when leaving the show i felt like the moments where the show could have taken off into another stratosphere never materialized and we were left with more of a "here's what we need to play before the tour ends" show. Lots of people disagree, so what do i know...

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