U-Melt :: 09.05.04 :: Strangefolk's Garden of Eden Festival :: Greenfield, MA
It began with a challenge issued to the band and ended after an "unbelievable" musical journey lasting well over six hours. U-Melt was scheduled to start its late night set at 4:00 a.m. and finish later in the morning. The promoters challenged U-Melt to play as long as they could without taking any breaks, or at least until the festival's music began the next day. The band accepted the challenge with open arms and the rest, as they say, is history.
U-Melt's set began with the opening notes to "Tomorrow My Friend," and with that, the epic voyage began. On "Tomorrow" keyboardist and vocalist Zac Lasher took over the late night crowd with his crisp vocals and tight jams. Next, during "Schizophrenia," guitarist and vocalist Rob Salzer dove right into his first of many extraordinary solos of this super set. At this point the crowd grew larger as everyone within earshot packed into the late night cabin to hear what the rage was all about. The band's powerful "Infectious Groove" was a personal highlight of the evening with Adam Bendy and George Miller putting together a tremendous groove on bass guitar and drums respectively. The groove was as infectious as the song title suggests and the band pushed and pushed until I thought my head would melt.
The night took a funky, unexpected turn when they launched into a cover of Kool and the Gang's "Get Down On It" with Miller taking the lead on vocals. This rendition would have made Kool and the rest of his Gang proud! "Get Down On It" segued flawlessly into
"Missed," where Miller took the lead again laying down his unmistakable beats. The crowd was very excited--yet attentive--despite the fact that the sun was rising after a long festival day with another one literally on the horizon.
"We've come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good..."
Appropriate lyrics for a marathon set, the cover of Fatboy Slim's classic dance song "Praise You" brought the crowd to frenzy and seemed to energize the band for the long haul. At this point it was nearly time for breakfast and those who didn't make it through the night were waking up and making their way to the cabin, many of them still in their pajamas. Then the U-Melt staple "Green Amber" took off and didn't come down for nearly 20 minutes, and the crowd loved every second of it. As if the crowd didn't know already, after "Green Amber" it was apparent that this was not your typical U-Melt show, or any show for that matter. The crowd swelled as parents brought their kids into the cabin after they woke up, and some of those who had caught the beginning of the show and went to bed, returned after getting some much needed rest.
Rob Salzer :: U-Melt
U-Melt has never shied away from wearing their many musical hats and they donned yet another one during this extensive set with their cover of the classic 80s Huey Lewis tune "I Want a New Drug." The crowd nodded its collective heads in approval as Lasher belted out the lyrics with impressive enthusiasm. U-Melt followed Huey's party cry with perhaps their single best version of "The Eternal Groove" with Lasher singing and Salzer taking a lengthy solo before the end of this band staple. Up next was a fantastic rendition of moe.'s "Happy Hour Hero" a tribute to U-Melt's friends in moe. and also those friends of the band who were a few hundred miles away in upstate New York at moe.down. "Happy Hour" was followed by a huge "Human Compass" which featured Salzer's most ferocious solo of the night. At this point, with each song and hour that passed, it became clear that we were all witnessing something exceptional that may never be surpassed. U-Melt had now been playing for over five hours without taking so much as a bathroom break.
The band then did a brilliant version of Medeski Martin & Wood's popular "Bubblehouse" featuring a short freestyle rap by Mike McCann, lead singer of Oak Street. "Bubblehouse" segued back into the monster set closer "Through the Prism" finishing the version which was played earlier in the set, which seemed like days ago. When all was said and done, U-Melt had shredded the late night cabin for over six hours. After the set ended it was 10:30 a.m. and a new festival day was upon us.
After it was complete, I asked myself, "has anyone else even tried to play for over six hours without taking any break?" We all know about Phish's Big Cypress all-night set during the millennium, but that was from midnight to 7 a.m., and they took several on-stage bathroom breaks as well as other lengthy on-stage breaks. U-Melt let loose in incredible late night fashion and proved they are a progressive groove force to be reckoned with and the Energizer Bunny of the jam scene. They just keep going and going and going...
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