Editor's Note: It seems clear that Tea Leaf Green is a rising star in the jam-rock world. In order to honor these fine San Francisco cats, and to appeal to both the casual observer and the obsessed fan, we bring you two reviews from two consecutive evenings with the band. The first will feature Kerry Heffernan as she dives into the Green for the first time; the second was written by a man who has thoroughly enjoyed all 26 evenings he has spent with TLG. We hope you enjoy our multi-angle coverage.
Words by Kerry Heffernan :: Images by Adam George
Tea Leaf Green :: 02.03.06 :: Grog Shop :: Cleveland Heights, OH
Okay, I will admit it. Though it may shock some of you, Tea Leaf Green is not a band that I was previously familiar with. Now, don't get me wrong, it is not that I had never heard anything about them. I had heard a little of this and a little of that but overall, not too much. Hey, give me a break. I live on the East Coast. I had no pre-conceived notions of this native San Francisco group consisting of Trevor Garrod (keys and vocals), Josh Clark (guitar and vocals), Ben Chambers (bass and vocals) and Scott Rager (drums), but I never could have imagined what I was about to encounter.
Clark & Garrod - TLG :: 02.04.06
On February 3rd, 2006, the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio entered into another dimension of entertainment. Walking into this small music venue, I felt like I had been transported back in time to one of the establishments on my college campus. Referring to this event as an "intimate setting" does not do it justice. It was tiny. A bar lined with a few stools was situated at the back of the venue and served as the seating area for those who chose to utilize it, though there were not many who did. The stage, complete with a red velvet curtain lining the back wall, was just cozy enough for a four-member group to get up there and do its thing, so to speak. This was a place where a person could hear the music, see the music, feel the music, and live the music.
Josh Clark :: 02.04.06
Local Ohio band ModQuad kicked off the night's festivities with some intricate jam work, which quickly moved the crowd into a state of excited anticipation for Tea Leaf Green's performance. However, for a little less than two hours, the assembly was made to hold off on releasing that excitement. For whatever reason, Tea Leaf Green did not come on until right around midnight, but no one in the audience seemed to care and the ModQuad did an excellent job of keeping the fans entertained.
When Tea Leaf Green took the stage for their sound check, I knew, just from hearing these guys tinkering with their instruments for a few minutes, that I was in for a real treat. In one fluid motion the band moved out of sound check and right into their first song of the night, "Franz Hanzerbeak." From the first chord of this tune, I, along with the rest of the audience, was completely enthralled with this music. The energy and sheer joy that resonated off of this talented quartet was infectious, and one could not control the urge to groove. The whole floor, which was absolutely packed at this point, just exploded into a sea of rhythmic movement as the band continued through their spell-binding melody. Garrod kept the audience absolutely captivated with his theatrics. Blowing minds with his complex piano work and standing up from his instrument from time to time to connect with the crowd, Garrod's physical movements and facial features emanated an air of confidence reminiscent of a young Robert Plant. Clark, with his scratchy and nostalgically weathered vocals, produced some seriously face-melting guitar solos. None of these elements would ever have worked were they not exquisitely held together by the pulsating beats and perfectly placed fills of Rager's drums combined with the precise timing of Chambers' bass strumming.
Trevor Garrod :: 02.04.06
The transitions from the band's jams into songs were seamless and downright impressive, and the variance of song choice kept the crowd on its toes. Before they knew what hit them, the audience was being led in an entirely new direction by the band as they pulled the group, willingly, into a completely different genre. Tea Leaf Green pulled out influences from across the board. From soul to throw-backs of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good"-esque rock & roll riffs, to punk rock and back again to the band's San Francisco roots, there was no stopping the creativity. A very well played "Taught to be Proud" brought out some sing-a-long voices from the audience, as did "Rapture," and some truly quirky tunes like "Death Cake" produced fast-paced, small bouncing movements in some of the fans. "The Garden (Part III)," perhaps the most impressively played song of the entire night, brought the entire congregation to an energy-filled frenzy.
Josh Clark :: 02.04.06
Tea Leaf Green played non-stop for two hours, keeping the same level of energy at the end of their set as they had at the beginning. When they finished their last song, the guys in the band were sweaty and noticeably bushed. They looked as though they had just finished an intense workout at the gym, but they were not yet finished with this performance. The audience, also worn from its high level of participation, hung around despite all of its exhaustion for that expected encore, which consisted of "I've Been Seeking" and "One Reason." A person would think that after this explosion of energy the crowd would be drained and ready to leave, but the audience was not yet willing to let go of this fantastic concert. With shouts of "One more song!" resonating off of the walls of the Grog Shop, the band re-appeared for their second encore. An awesome "Sex in the 70's" rounded out my first-ever Tea Leaf Green show, and it was at this point that I realized, dare I say it, that these guys are going to be in need of much larger venues very, very soon.
JamBase | Ohio
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Be sure to continue reading for a review of the next show in Chicago...