Words by: Frank Etheridge | Images by: Michael Saba
Gov't Mule/Mike Gordon/Perpetual Groove/Dumpstaphunk
08.09.08 :: Masquerade Music Park :: Atlanta, GA
An afternoon show in August in Atlanta.
More than just alliteration, this is a recipe for H-E-A-T. But luckily for fans gathering in the intimate, outdoor amphitheater at the Masquerade Music Park for a triple bill of Perpetual Groove, Mike Gordon and Gov't Mule, recent thunderstorms had drained the sky of humidity and delivered a dose of autumn air. The only heat this rowdy crowd had to contend with came from the stage.
| Warren Haynes - Gov't Mule :: 08.09 :: Atlanta|
Home state heroes Perpetual Groove kicked things off with the sun still high in the sky. The band has had all summer to gel with new keyboardist John Hruby, and, save for their personal Amberland mini-fest, this gig was the first chance for fans to see the new lineup in their native state. Based on this wonderful, five-song warm-up set, which featured a great reading of The Who's "Eminence Front," the future for PGroove is bright as the band heads out on the road for a very busy fall tour that barnstorms the South before venturing out to Colorado and New York.
Following PG, Mike Gordon took the stage. A day removed from the release of his latest album, The Green Sparrow, Gordon and the band immediately struck this reviewer as much tighter and more in sync than a month ago at All Good. He passed on excessive banter in favor of a silent gracing of the stage, moving swiftly through two tunes indicative of the funky jazz-fusion that fills The Green Sparrow before addressing his audience. None of the quirky covers that have popped up in setlists throughout his summer tour, such as "Things That Make You Go Hmm" or "Takin' It To The Streets," were played this evening.
"Makisupa Policeman" was the only Phish song of the set, appearing at the halfway point of this one-hour affair. Familiar reggae rhythms still drove the song, but it was markedly different from the typical Phish version, with guitarist Scott Murawski pushing it faster with sped-up chord progressions. At this point in the set, Gordon and Murawski really seemed to lock in, with Gordon dropping big bass notes left and right, his grooves providing a solid backbeat to Murawski stepping out more and more for searing leads. This combined with solid vocal harmonizing couldn't help but lead one to think and reflect back on Gordo's other band.
| Mike Gordon :: 08.09 :: Atlanta|
As the sun slipped down behind the stage, Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule emerged in the twilight. The two Mule sets were marked by creative setlists that incorporated great cover choices and left out certain staples ("Mule" and "Thorazine Shuffle" were both auspiciously absent). The volume, perhaps lowered due to playing in an inner city neighborhood, irked a few fans that favor the full-tilt, turn-it-up-to-11 sonic assault that is the best vehicle for the muscle of Haynes and drummer Matt Abts.
The band moved through "Hammer & Nails" and "Slackjaw Jezebel" before hitting their stride and nailing the hard-hitting "Rocking Horse" and the beautiful "Banks of the Deep End." Next, Haynes took it down a notch, leaning back, his hair swirling and eyes closed, to belt out the balladry of "I'll Be the One." Unexpected moments of bliss such as this evoked musings on duality, namely, "How does someone that rocks this hard sing so damn sweet?"
A 20-second "Blue Sky" tease filled the outro of "I'll Be the One," followed a few songs later by The Rolling Stones' "Play with Fire" with up-tempo instrumental segments and overly aggressive guitar distorting this cover. The always-appreciated "Soulshine" provided a perfect ending to the first set, and immediately begged the question, "So now what are they going to encore with?"
| Danny Louis - Gov't Mule :: 08.09 :: Atlanta|
After "Patchwork Quilt" opened the second set, Gordon and Murawski took the stage for the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree." It was a collective A-plus effort on this one. Next up was a cover of pioneering blues great Rev. Gary Davis, a man Taj Mahal once said "took you out of playing baby guitar and made you play it like a man." No sane mind would ever question Haynes' manly handling of his axe, which proved perfect on this cover of "Death Don't Have No Mercy," which was highlighted by keyboardist Danny Louis picking up a trumpet, augmented by a mute cup, and adding a few superb solos.
Later, an extended "The Other One" jam led to Abts' drum solo before Ivan Neville, whose band Dumpstaphunk was slated for late night inside the Masquerade, took the keys, along with a guest guitarist, for a cover of "Get Out of My Life Woman." The Beatles' "Love Me Do" was sandwiched inside "I'm a Ram" as the second set closer.
Doing justice to another Beatles classic, "Dear Prudence," a rarified beauty that dwells in realms above and beyond such labels as "classic," is no small task (and, as evidenced by "Play with Fire" earlier in the show, some covers, even if you're Warren "MF'ing" Haynes, shouldn't be touched). But Haynes sounded simply perfect on this one. Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" (surely they're not going to cover this one!?!) was teased for several seconds before the band launched into Tom Waits' "Going Out West," a Mule favorite that also frequently appears in Widespread Panic setlists, which had the Panic-heavy crowd spun into a fist-pumping, visor-tossing frenzy.
| Haynes & Neville - Dumpstaphunk :: 08.09 :: Atlanta|
After Mule, the party moved inside, with two late night options: P-Groove's Brock Butler & Friends (a show that featured Disco Biscuits drummer Allen Aucoin for several songs) or Dumpstaphunk. As a Katrina evacuee living in his home state of Georgia, this reviewer opted for the nasty, filthy, I'm-homeless-and-living-in-my-broken-down-car-with-a-bunch-of-fucking-feral-cats FUNK that only the NOLA boys from Dumpstaphunk can provide.
Bassist Nick Daniels first approached the audience, leaning forward in his trademark tone that is somehow menacing, mocking and friendly all at once. "Gaawga! Gaawga!" he cried, to which the crowd responded with a round of barks, the Pavlovian crowd clearly salivating over the prospect of their beloved number one ranked Georgia Bulldogs entering the football season.
Dumpstaphunk thrilled the audience with a nonstop, two-hour dance party that included favorite originals such as "Livin' In a World Gone Mad" and "FEMA," and a cover of the Alabama 3/Sopranos theme song, "Woke Up This Morning (Got Yourself a Gun)." Haynes took the stage to share in a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" (thankfully not everyone is too scared to play a protest anthem these days), which was wrapped around Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign."
Leaving the stage after "Fortunate Son," Haynes hugged every single member of Dumpstaphunk. Sincere appreciation emanated from the stage in one of those moments that define Haynes' grace and the kinship he creates with like-minded musicians - a fitting end to a fantastic day and night of music.
Continue reading for more images from Atlanta's Masquerade Music Park ...