Bottom of the Hill | San Francisco, CA
Like any good jam band, the members of Wayside understand that one of the keys to good, live improvisational jamming is the ability to communicate with one another. Their current lineup features bassist Justin Hellman, drummer Lucas Carlton, guitarist David Hobstetter, and keyboardist Josh Paxton. Although they have only been together for a mere six months, you would think that these guys have been playing together for years. The Wayside that I saw last Monday at the Bottom of the Hill not only flourished with the flow of connectivity among themselves, but they also spun their magic out into the crowd to create that ultimate convergence of energy between band and audience.
The bill for the evening was shared with other local funk/rock bands, Shady Lady and Counterpoint. I missed Shady Lady’s performance, but arrived, like most of the crowd, just before Wayside’s set at 10pm. They opened with a tight version of "10 Floors," written and sung by Hobstetter, the group’s main songwriter. It was my first time hearing the tune, with it’s amusing story about a man trying to visit his girlfriend who lives on the 10th floor of a building he can’t manage to ascend. A song called "NWL" followed and literally blew my mind with its driving groove throughout. The groove was augmented by an ethereal, building jam at the end that flowed into the next song, "Throwing Stones," which is clearly an audience favorite (a live version from February is on mp3.com).
The last two songs in their 50-minute set, "Mindfuck" and "Davey Jones’ Locker," were both written by Hellman, the band’s second most prolific songwriter. "Mindfuck" is one of the band’s most unique songs, characterized by its ominous, punctuated bass line and jazzy, syncopated melody. The highlight and climax of the show had to have been the finale, "Davey Jones’ Locker," which featured guest trumpeter Mike McGibbons and roused everyone onto the dance floor for a bout of frenzied dancing. On its own, the song is one of their funkiest, crowd-igniting tunes. Add to that the phenomenal solos by McGibbons, Hellman, and Paxton, all of which led to peaks of group improvisational jamming, and you’ve got one of the most electrifying performances of the song ever! With the crowd screaming for more, Wayside had to leave the stage and hope that Counterpoint could keep their fans dancing and grooving.
Wayside will be playing around the Bay Area much more this summer, and are in the works of planning a mini-tour around the West Coast. After seeing them play two very different yet equally amazing shows this weekend, in Berkeley and in SF, I know that they’ll quickly become one of the hottest bands to see as their time playing together progresses and deepens their ability to make music that gets me (and you and everyone else) moving.
Your next chance to see them is at Blakes in Berkeley this Sunday, July 1st after the Phil and Friends show. Wayside will hit the stage at 9:30pm, followed by Boomshanka at 11pm. Other shows and tunes can be found at http://www.mp3.com/wayside1
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