By: Derek Jung
Summers are busy! And for me, that's included both moving upstate and too many family activities to list. Fortunately, that doesn't mean I haven't been attending shows in the meantime. In fact, quite the opposite. But instead of having individual posts of shows from the last month, I thought it would be easier if I condensed things a bit and share smaller blurbs about each show. Hope you enjoy.
Dead & Company @ Blossom Music Center - June 20th
My opinion on John Mayer has always been the following: One of the best guitarists of our generation that makes some of the most boring music of our generation. Hey John, you told me to "say what I need to say" (about 100x). You didn't see this coming?
Well, this is the third year that John's chosen to focus his summer touring with Dead & Company instead of on his own material and thankfully the presence of Bob Weir and gang brings out the best in him. John noodled his way through solo after solo during the 2+ hour, 2 set experience. This particular show was the hundredth of Dead & Company's existence, and their set, in true Grateful Dead form, featured less hits and a wide variety of deep cuts, covers, and extended jams. While I was a little disappointed they didn't play my favorite Dead jam, Terrapin Station, which they had played on a few nights during this run of dates, the whole experience was an eye opener that Deadhead culture is still alive and well (albeit a little older) and that they can still party with the best of them. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann provided the rhythmic backbone and Bob Weir's still got the chops to breathe new life into the decades old songs. Word to the wise though, when Hart starts his Drums/Space jam towards the middle of the set, take a pee break.
Feel Life a Stranger
They Love Each Other
It's All Over Now
West L.A. Fadeaway
Ship of Fools
Saint of Circumstance
Fire on the Mountain
I Need a Miracle
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit @ PNC Pavilion - July 18th
The difficulty of being a musical power couple is having to balance each other's careers as well as family life. Jason Isbell has seen his career skyrocket during his last 2-3 album cycles, becoming one of the biggest names in Americana music. Meanwhile, his wife Amanda Shires' new album came out last week and she is poised to be a rising star in the industry herself. Normally, when Amanda isn't touring her own music, she joins the band on stage playing a mean fiddle, but she was off doing her own thing on these dates. To fill the void, keyboardist Derry deBorja picked up the slack, playing solos that would have otherwise gone to Shires. Despite the lack of Shires, you could tell the band was having a blast on these run of dates, and the 2/3 capacity crowd at PNC Pavilion was given a treat of a set featuring 7 songs from The Nashville Sound, and many of my favorites, including the first time I've heard the tearjerker "Elephant" live.
I will say this. Songs like "Cover Me Up" and "If We Were Vampires" just don't have the same feeling when Jason isn't singing to Amanda on stage, but that in no shape or form should dissuade you from seeing him on this tour. He's incredible.
Hope the High Road
Go It Alone
Something More Than Free
White Man's World
Last of My Kind
The Life You Chose
Flying Over Water
Cover Me Up
Never Gonna Change
If We Were Vampires
Foo Fighters @ Blossom Music Center - July 25th
Who would've thought that after waiting more than a decade and a half to see Foo Fighters live that I'd get to see them 3 times within the span of a year? I'm certainly not complaining. This latest adventure with Dave Grohl and company came in the friendly confines of Blossom Music Center outside Cleveland and within an hour of where Grohl was born in Warren, OH. For the most part, the set was pretty similar to the one I saw previously at US Bank Arena, which isn't a bad thing, but a lot of the banter, band intros, and general goofing off lasted a lot longer this time around. And, look, I don't mean to be a downer or anything; I love a band with good humor, but there's only so much I can take before it starts feeling like a time filler. The band introductions for example took forever, as each band member did at least a full verse and chorus of their chosen cover song. In two cases, they played the full song (Chris Shiflett sang lead on a cover of Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels" and Pat Smear tore through a cover of Blitzkrieg Bop). Side note: Beginning to think Blitzkrieg Bop is literally the only non-Foo Fighters riff Pat remembers, as he's done it every time I've seen him. Play a little Germs, Pat! The highlight of the intros was definitely when they played John Lennon's "Imagine" with the lyrics from Van Halen's "Jump". Quite the mash up.
Grohl pulled up a a teenager from the crowd to play Monkey Wrench and he did pretty well, but he was no KISS guy. He also has his daughter singing backup on this tour, presumably because she's on summer break and able to tour with her old man. Speaking of old men, the whole band once again proved that they are NOT the old men from their "Run" music video. Although that would be pretty bad ass too. All in all, another solid go round with the gang.
All My Life
Learn To Fly
The Sky Is a Neighborhood
Under My Wheels
Another One Bites the Dust (snippet)
La Dee Da
Imagine/Jump (Imagine music w/ Jump lyrics)
You Oughta Know (snippet)
Under Pressure (w/ Luke from The Struts on co-vocals)
Monkey Wrench (w/ kid from crowd)
Best of You
Times Like These
This Is a Call
By: Joseph Kathmann
This year marked the first year since 2014 that Cincinnati had two major music festivals occur in the same summer, which is a welcome change for many (including myself) who, for years, have been frustrated at how incompetent PromoWest can be at running music festivals. Back in 2014, Cincinnati saw a wonderful music festival season, with bands like The Flaming Lips, Paramore / Fall Out Boy, and (gulp) Empire of the Sun headlining Bunbury, (with a pretty strong undercard, more importantly) and the likes of Willie Nelson, Alabama, The Band Perry, and more headlining the newly created Buckle Up Country Music Festival, taking place in the same area as Bunbury, Sawyer Point / Yeatman's Cove, just a month or so later. With the festival scene on a meteoric rise, the old, out-of-touch executives over at PromoWest saw an opportunity to buy both festivals, cancel one, (Buckle Up was the victim, with PromoWest citing "too much competition" as the reason....imagine I said that in a really shrilly / smug / sarcastic voice) and effectively have a monopoly on the major music festival scene in a mid-sized town. Sure, MidPoint Music Festival exists in September, but the argument could easily be made that it is not on the same playing field as Bunbury. (Not to mention it has its own fair share of issues) The same can probably be said for Homecoming, but having these festivals take place a few weeks apart really hammers how complacent PromoWest has become with Cincinnati's (unfortunately) premier music festival.
It has become painstakingly obvious over the past few years that PromoWest is totally content with sitting back and watching the dollars roll in, while making very little, if any, effort to improve on the longstanding issues with Bunbury. For example, the bars were once again cash only for some inexplicable reason. Meanwhile, Homecoming, in its (hopefully) inaugural year, figured out a way to accept cards at all the bars around the festival grounds. The fact that PromoWest has not been able to integrate a similar system at the bars, ever since it tried (and failed horribly) to implement a cashless system that gobbled up your money in the process with exorbitant fees, is infuriating. Frankly, it's embarrassing that this is still the case at Cincinnati's flagship music festival in 2018. (Current year argument, but seriously PromoWest, get your act together!) Even a few years back, Bunbury was the only music festival I went to throughout the year that ONLY had cash bars. Maybe one of the reasons they continue to insist on having everything cash only (food trucks were allowed to do their own thing, at least, so many accepted cards because, you know, it's 2018 and us millennials don't carry cash) is because if they did, they'd have to train volunteers in the bars on how to actually use them. And that would require PromoWest treating their volunteers better than the dirt that accrues on all the money they're making.
Which is a good segue into an experience I had on Friday at Bunbury at the hands of PromoWest. Because this year's Bunbury lineup was (once again) a hodgepodge of artists with no real identity or consistency, I didn't have much of a desire to pay for any day other than Sunday, where Jack White was the headliner. However, on Friday I decided to volunteer for a local film organization, (Shameless self promo: the organization I volunteered for is the Cincinnati Film Society, go follow them on the social medias!) which would get me into the festival for free that day in return. I was pouring beer at one of the many beer booths around the festival grounds for our roughly 6.5 hour shift on Friday, (11 am - 5:45 pm) completely unpaid. In fact, the Cincinnati Film Society (CFS for short) was only being paid via the tips made off the beer sales. During our shift, this amounted to roughly $135. You'd think maybe PromoWest could donate even a few pennies off every beer sold in that booth to the organization, but no, why take money away from your bottom line when you can have volunteers make you your money for free? So, picture this: it's nearing the end of our 6.5 hour shift (about 15 minutes before it's supposed to end) and we're wondering where our replacements are, as they were supposed to arrive around 5. Suddenly, two PromoWest officials come up demanding to speak to the person in charge of the CFS. At the other CFS beer booth, these officials had caught someone drinking a beer while on their shift, and kicked them out of the festival. Not only that, but they were not allowing our replacements to enter the festival grounds until they spoke to the person in charge. These officials proceeded to stand by our booth for almost an hour, not letting us leave the booth and thus continue to pour beers, (and make PromoWest money) until they got to speak to the Executive Director of the CFS. (She wasn't on the grounds, which was an admittedly bad decision on her part, but still.) When our replacements were finally allowed in, they confirmed that they were, in fact, standing by the volunteer entrance, with a security guard in front of them not allowing them to enter the grounds. This kind of treatment of us, the volunteers pouring beer for free while making PromoWest disgusting amounts of money, was despicable, and put such a sour taste in my mouth that I stuck around for one band (Royal Blood) and left for the evening.
I'll admit that the above story has made me very frustrated towards PromoWest, but there were other unwelcoming things happening around Bunbury that were nowhere to be found at Homecoming. (Not to mention I've been frustrated with PromoWest for a while now). For example, this year PromoWest decided they could make more money by having beer vendors walk around the festival grounds and into the crowds until halfway through a set before setting up shop somewhere in the crowd like they have in years past. I'm sure this made more money for PromoWest, but it came at the cost of, you know, the view of the stage for us festival goers. Not like we were paying to see the musicians on stage, right? Of course this was nowhere to be found at Homecoming. I noticed it immediately in that first set on Friday, and it infuriated me every time I saw it thereafter. The only time they didn't move around were during the headlining sets of each stage, and I fully expect that when PromoWest sees how much more money they made this year in beer sales by blocking the view of the stage in the preceding acts, they'll ignore all the complaints from the festival goers (including from yours truly) and have the vendors walk through the crowd during the headliners, too. After all, who cares about lessening the vibe of your festival when you can make more money, right?
PromoWest has also never really accepted the fact that they will have to pay the city of Cincinnati money to repair Sawyer Point / Yeatman's Cove when the festival is over. Despite the fact that they have to do this every year. This year, they decided to try and make a bottleneck between the two main stages worse by fencing off the ground around the one path that goes in between them. On Friday, this magnified this problematic bottleneck I've been complaining about for YEARS (at least they didn't put a beer vendor right in the middle of it this time around, so progress....right?) and it took nearly twice as long as it should to walk between the stages. By Sunday, though, festival goers had acted on their frustrations with this stupid, PromoWest created bottleneck, and tore down the fences surrounding the pathway between the stages to alleviate the issue. However, my guess is this will just incentivize PromoWest to establish more heavy-duty fences around the bottleneck next year to ensure festival goers can't tear them down, versus trying to actually do anything meaningful to actually fix this long standing issue. Meanwhile, Homecoming Festival not only didn't have any bottlenecks, but they actually made great use of Smale Riverfront Park, allowing people to interact with the existing architecture that was there and totally accepting the fact that they were going to have to pay the city some money to repair the grounds afterwards. Not only that, but it actually added to the vibe of the festival. It was pretty cool to see people interacting with the art around the grounds while the bands were playing.
The only major complaint I had about Homecoming was getting in the first day. It took almost 30 minutes to get into the festival as security simply wasn't ready for the crowd rush, but by day 2 they had solved this issue, and I'm confident that in years to come they will figure out ways to address this issue. I have far more faith in MusicNow and the rest of the crew behind Homecoming making changes for the better than I do PromoWest for Bunbury, and that's just sad.
None of this even begins to talk about the actual music, which was (you guessed it) superior at Homecoming. There was a lot more passion from the artists, and from the crowds themselves. Not only that, but the crew was vastly superior at Homecoming than it was at its bigger brother, and that might have something to do with the fact that PromoWest insists on paying its crew a measly $10/hour to run Bunbury. Who needs a livable wage when you're working your ass off in the hot sun for 3 days to ensure a festival runs smoothly, right? Jack White's (criminally short) headlining set was marred with technical issues, (though he pushed through it like the pro that he is) and once again at least one artist complained about getting shocked by his microphone during a set. (Royal Blood) I feel like I've only ever seen that kind of an issue arise at Bunbury, and at Bunbury I've seen it happen almost every year. And, of course, the EQ at Homecoming was vastly superior, but at this point that almost goes without saying. Least the main stage at Bunbury wasn't a total bass fest. Just kind of a bass fest.
One final story I'll leave you with about Bunbury. PromoWest sets the beer prices in the festival, which actually were quite reasonable. $7 for a 16 oz craft beer isn't bad. However, in the craft beer village, PromoWest had the bright idea to sell Buzz, the official beer of Bunbury made by Braxton, in 12 oz cans for $7. Right alongside that, you could buy a 16 oz craft beer for the same price. Not only that, but in a beer tent just a few feet away, PromoWest was also selling Buzz in a 16 oz draft for, you guessed it, $7. If that doesn't sum up the idiocy mixed with complacency at PromoWest, then I don't know what does.
It's infuriating that Bunbury feels like a run-down, cheap, third-rate music festival that struggles to get any kind of noteworthy talent. And the fact that Homecoming did things so much better in its inaugural year should be telling to Cincinnati festival goers. Should be. But, because festivals are "hip" and "trendy," Bunbury will keep making PromoWest enough dough that they'll do nothing but sit back. watch the money rake in, and make no effort to improve the conditions of their cash cow. That is, until the year the festival bubble inevitably bursts and PromoWest cancels Bunbury because of "too much competition." Hopefully by then Homecoming will be ready to take the reins as Cincinnati's premier music festival. You know, assuming it actually returns. Please return, Homecoming.....
By: Joseph Kathmann
Joseph: It's pretty hard to not love a show like this. One of the great musical minds of the 20th century playing at one of the greatest music venues ever built? Pretty hard for that formula to go wrong. It didn't. When the great David Byrne took the stage, the atmosphere in The Mother Church was electric. Sure, the former Talking Heads frontman isn't exactly a country artist, but The Ryman accepts all musical acts, regardless of genre. The 65 year-old rocker (now 66! Just celebrated a birthday) brought his eccentric mind and creative show to The Mother Church and delivered one of the best shows I have ever seen. But, first on the bill was Benjamin Clementine.
Going into this show I was not super familiar with Benjamin Clementine's work, but I can see why David Byrne chose him to open the night. There's a raw talent to the young singer-songwriter, and a raw creativity that many fans of Talking Heads could see very quickly. By night's end, Clementine had won over a host of new fans, and it was during his brief set that I knew I was in for a great night. The audience was captivated by Clementine's every word. You could hardly hear anyone in the audience talking over him, and his intimate style jived perfectly with The Ryman. It was sign of things to come.
For those unfamiliar, David Byrne has a very unique live show full of choreographed dance and unique sets throughout the 20 song set. Watching a David Byrne show feels very much like watching art unfold in front of you, and it is an indescribably unique experience. (Unfortunately) The closest thing we have to it now is a set from St. Vincent, but there's a reason why she's called the "David Byrne of the 21st century." Watching a master of his craft, still at the top of his game in his 60s, is truly something to behold. While Byrne's song choices didn't stray from anything else he had been doing on his current tour, given the complexity of the choreography of the set I could understand why. This man is a master of the visual presentation, and seeing his vision play out in The Mother Church is an experience I won't soon forget.
By: Derek Jung
After his scorching hot set at Forecastle last year, I couldn't miss the opportunity to see JD and his band headline their own show in a theater setting. The band has well over a year under their belt touring under the material from their fantastic record Undivided Heart & Soul, one of my favorite albums of 2017. At this point, the band is more than comfortable with their new material live, but that doesn't mean it's gotten stale. Instead, the band looks as fresh as ever, using the experiences from the past year to launch into ferocious grooves throughout the night. Unfortunately for them, the lackluster crowd in attendance failed to reciprocate, which quickly zapped the energy from the room to make this nothing more than another notch on the touring calendar. I could go on about the crowd, but I'd rather focus on the band.
First and foremost, bassist Jimmy Sutton is a monster and I found myself watching him most of the night slapping up and down his upright bass. I couldn't help but wonder what it'd be like if he and Jim Prescott from G. Love & Special Sauce were to perform together. That'd be a sight to see. Having Los Straitjackets member Jason Smay on drums was also a pleasant surprise. I wish the band members would more outwardly interact with each other on stage. Instead it looked like each member kept to themselves for the most part. Maybe that's what a year plus of touring and a boring crowd will do to you. Either way, the band is touring through at least the end of July, so there's plenty more opportunities to catch their show. I hope you see them with a better crowd than I did.
By: Derek Jung
While Switchfoot mulls their future (going on indefinite hiatus except for a short tour this summer), lead singer Jon Foreman is out on the road promoting his new documentary 25 In 24, where he played 25 different shows in 24 hours around his hometown of San Diego, CA. The evening began with a viewing of the movie, which was a little over an hour long and did a fairly good job showing just how chaotic and unpredictable the day was. It also focused on the power of community and friendship, which gave it a nice, uplifting tone. For someone like Foreman, that's pretty much expected, and even one of his crew members was unconsciously giving the "hang ten" hand signal on a balmy, thirty degree Ohio afternoon.
After the movie there was a brief intermission while gear was set up for the show, during which fans wrote down there sound requests on paper, napkins, paper plates - whatever they could find that could be written on and tossed around Jon's microphone stand. By the time the show started, his entire area was covered. I was pleasantly surprised that the set started with the opening track from the movie, "Beyond The Sea", which was also its live debut. Foreman was flanked by a cellist and a drummer, and both share a quality of Jon that I most admire. They all exude a constant positive energy that's infectious.
Maybe it's that California surf.
Beyond The Sea (Live Debut)
Meant to Live (Switchfoot cover)
Patron Saint of Rock and Roll
Vice Verses (Switchfoot cover)
Live It Well (Switchfoot cover)
Only Hope (Switchfoot cover)
Before Our Time
Dare You to Move (Switchfoot cover)
Heart of Gold / I Won't Back Down / Knocking on Heaven's Door
All of God's Children
Your Love Is Strong
By: Derek Jung
Everyone has an off night, right?
That's what I kept telling myself as I drove home from my sixth Dawg Yawp show in the last two years. The duo, which has become one of my favorite Cincinnati bands and has seen a meteoric rise since they became the darlings of the now-defunct AAA radio station WNKU, highlighted by an appearance on NPR's Tiny Desk last year. This past weekend they performed at Woodward Theater to start their yearly touring pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for SXSW. It was not the start they were looking for. From the very beginning of the set it was clear that something was off. They started with "Can't Think", one of my favorite songs of theirs, and it sounded lifeless. Tyler's sitar was very low in the mix, which brought the song down. Fast forward twenty minutes and a few poor song choices later, and the crowd was beginning to noticeably thin out. By this point I was a pretty far through the traditional steps of grief. Denial? Check. Anger? Absolutely. Bargaining? Perhaps better described as praying for better song choices in exchange for buying a piece of merch or another drink. Depression struck about half an hour into the set, as the conversations around me got louder and the band's quiet sound got muddied even more. The set was a death spiral and there was no stopping it. It was around this point that I reached the last stage, Acceptance. I knew this was a bad set and there was no saving it. I even forgot to snap a picture before we left. Oh well.
The silver lining:
A) There's new music from Dawg Yawp on the horizon
B) The opener, This Pine Box, was absolutely fantastic.
Until next time, yawpers.
By: Derek Jung
There's always a tangible anxiety that hangs in the air during meet and greet sessions. Everyone in attendance is a die hard fan who forked over more money than necessary to shake their musical hero's hand and maybe have a brief conversation with them. This was the position I found myself in on this fateful evening. I was introduced to fingerstyle guitar playing many years ago by my father, who had a Michael Hedges album that I fell in love with. It was from this spark that led to other fingerstyle greats, Don Ross, Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour and many more. I've had the honor of seeing many of them on their tours through Cincinnati, but never Tommy Emmanuel. So when Joseph was able to snag meet and greet passes through a client, I found myself nervously waiting to shake the hand of one of the most talented guitarists that I've heard. I am very happy to note that not only was Tommy a gracious host to our group, but he also took time to talk to each of us, to the point where he needed to move quickly through the last few people because he was short on time. He joked, told stories, and played/signed everything that was brought before him.
The show itself was just as great as I imagined it would be. Tommy's playing is fantastic, and he inserts his personality and humor into each song. His Beatles medley, which I've listened to so many times before, was powerful live, as was his tribute to military veterans. There are times where fingerstyle guitar playing can get a little gimmicky, and Tommy's set was no different, especially during a percussive solo where he used his guitar basically as bongos. It went on for a bit too long, especially having seen many other artists do similar things before, but I imagine for those in the audience who were unfamiliar, that was a rather unique and interesting moment in the show. The crowd's reaction certainly alluded to that being true. Tommy Emmanuel's new album, Accomplice One, is a collection of duets with a variety of different singer-songwriters. On this tour, Tommy's only accompaniment was from Rodney Crowell and his fiddle player, who also served as the night's opener. You might recognize Crowell as being Rosanne Cash's ex-husband, but he's also a great songwriter himself.
Check out a video of Tommy Emmanuel performing "Saturday Night Shuffle earlier this month at Paste Studios.
By: Derek Jung
This is now my third time seeing the cult jam rap rock trio in the last 3 years. Each time has been in very different environments. The first was a private-ish birthday party at Madison Live! where I commented that the band kept it super fun, but played the hits with such familiarity that they were straddling the line between comfort and staleness. The second was a middle-of-the-road mid-afternoon set at Bunbury Music Festival during which the band fed off the energy of the crowd and an impending thunderstorm to create a memorable set.
This time though, unfortunately, the energy was not present at all. Despite the band playing well past 11 PM, the solid Tuesday night crowd in attendance had dangerously low energy for the vast majority of the show. It was one of the sleepiest crowds that I've ever experienced at the theater. The worst part was when the band went off stage before the encore. The clapping and cheering died almost immediately and didn't start back up again until the band returned to the stage. Why they even came back, I don't know. The crowd certainly didn't deserve it. To add to this, the mediocre sound of 20th Century Theatre struck again. It took a good four songs before you could hear G. Love's vocals through the muddled mess of bass and drums. One of the drummer's toms' mics was even unplugged for a few songs. It was so bad that the drummer, who was getting visibly frustrated, got up in between songs and went side stage to talk with the monitor tech. The sound was magically fixed for the next song. Incredible.
In short, I don't think I'll be catching G. Love again at 20th Century. Wasn't worth the trouble.
By: Derek Jung
In our year-end review post from 2017, we made a promise to our readers that we wouldn't publish a review until we know we got it right. Well, this show is a prime example of something that we had to sit on for a few weeks to fully understand. Why so much thought? Well, this St. Vincent tour is unlike anything we've ever seen from her before, because it's just her. No backing band. No safety net. Just Annie Clark. And that provided new challenges for us, the audience, in being able to digest the artistic risks she took on every song, the details that would otherwise be minutia were instead amplified by her singular presence on stage. It was unlike anything that I've ever seen before, even from a solo artist, and that's what made it so captivating. St. Vincent's new album, MASSEDUCTION, tackles a number of themes, namely depression, anxiety, sexuality, and the fakeness of fame and popular culture - all of which are extremely personal for her. That's why I thought it made sense for her to present these songs in the most personal way possible.
The show itself was separated into two halves. The first half were the hits, as Annie traversed her previous albums in discographical order, playing two or three songs from each. This was the first introduction to what the night was going to be - Annie singing and playing guitar over backing tracks. For those who were expecting a full band, this is about the moment where the panic began. For my part, I thought Annie succeeded much more on the mellow songs like "Marry Me" than she did on songs like "Digital Witness" or "Birth in Reverse", which would benefit more from a full band.
The second half featured MASSEDUCTION in its entirety. I was impressed with "Pills" and "Young Lover" live, especially the fact that she attempted to hit the high note on the latter song (so close). It was also during this second half that Annie Clark transformed into the St. Vincent of popular lore - powerful, ferocious, and commanding the entire stage. It was a one woman show in every regard, an expression of not only her musical prowess but also her keen eye for both visual and performance art. And for that I say that it was well worth the price of admission.
Side note: There are a TON of strobe lights in this show. Enough to give me a mild headache, so beware.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can watch the full show from The Fillmore in Detroit. The first half is linked below.
Actor Out of Work
Birth in Reverse
[MASSEDUCTION in full]
Hang on Me
Happy Birthday, Johnny
Fear the Future
Dancing With a Ghost
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Joseph: Wow. What a show. I last saw Kamasi Washington at Bonnaroo 2016, where he was right next to Pearl Jam for my favorite set of the festival. So, needless to say, I was giddy with anticipation at the chance to see Kamasi again. In a full set, too. Fortunately, Kamasi and his band, some of the best jazz musicians in the world, did not disappoint. After a short but sweet set from opener Moonchild, (never thought I'd see some frat bro wannabes rip it on a bunch of different instruments, but that's a pretty good summary of them) Kamasi took the stage. And boy did he tear the roof down.
There's something special about seeing jazz live. The environment at these shows is completely different than the environment at a traditional show. The crowd is engaged, and hanging on every solo. They applaud constantly. They cheer after a player does something great. There's an energy there that you don't usually see, and when you happen to have one of the best jazz musicians of the 21st century in front of you that feeling is amplified. The crowd had a lot to cheer about as every member of Kamasi's band got the chance to blow our minds with at least one epic solo. Even the bassist got a feature! Despite the set running almost 2 hours, Kamasi only played 7 songs. Those solos really up the run-time! There were a few moments where the pace slowed down a bit, but those moments were very welcome as it gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath. But man can Kamasi rip it on the saxophone. The rest of his band is pretty darn good too. All in all I loved every minute of this set. There's no doubt you'll be seeing it again when we talk about our favorite sets of 2017. This one will be VERY close to the top. If you have the chance to see him, do yourself a favor: drop everything, and go see Kamasi Washington live.
Oh and Derek and I got our picture taken with Kamasi after the show, so that was pretty cool.
Derek: I think Joseph summed up most of my feelings on the show. Seeing Kamasi Washington live is a thrilling experience, and since jazz isn't exactly the most popular of genres anymore (despite Kamasi breathing new life into it in the past few years), you know you're going to be surrounded by like-minded fans who are there for the love of the music. It's a great atmosphere to experience.
While the band wasn't exactly the same as when I saw him at Midpoint Music Festival in 2016, staples like drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., keyboardist Brandon Coleman, and trombonist Ryan Porter are all stars. I'm a little biased, but I did miss bassist Miles Mosley this time around, and singer Patrice Quinn has never been my favorite; I've always like Kamasi's instrumental pieces much more. But songs like "Truth" and "Humility" sound fantastic live, and Washington shows no signs of slowing the momentum he gained from The Epic. I just wish more people had been there to experience it.
Leroy and Lanisha
The Rhythm Changes
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: