Oysterhead is a garage band made
up of world-class players. I can't escape the feeling that Les Claypool, Trey Anastasio, and Stewart Copeland are a
thousand pounds lighter in this setting. Oysterhead gets them in touch with the things that made them pick up an
instrument in the first place. They noodled with shit eatin' grins, reveling in their hard earned skill while trying to
play outside of it. I loved how littlelike "that guy from the Police" Copeland sounds here. He's still got the best
cymbal work EVER but there's less tension in his shoulders when he hits. Les looked dapper even in the blazing heat
on Friday, and Trey burned like the jukebox hero we know he can be. You never got the sense they take this project
all that seriously, and therein lays its appeal. At the end, Copeland said, "We're just a semi-pro band and that's all
we've got. You're beautiful people, and I want to take off all my clothes and dance among you." There’s no question
he'd been welcomed with open arms.
Oysterhead by Dave Vann
It Came From MySpace
With only a 35-minute Sunday slot, it was inexcusable for Be Your Own Pet to stammer on about running out of songs only 15 minutes in. If
they truly had so little material they probably shouldn’t be scheduled on a main stage at one of the biggest festivals
in the world. But BYOP is already gracing magazine covers, and has been championed by Thurston Moore,
whose Ecstatic Peace label put out their debut.
Shrieking things like "Get out of my skin," they're plenty snotty but not more than a few inches removed from the
late '70s pop-punk sound that's come back into vogue. Sure, they've got a great name in a Sanrio kind of way but they sound and look (and don’t think for a minute that
their look isn't a huge factor in their success) like THE band Seth is putting on every mix he gives Ryan and
A smartass next to me at deadboy and the
Elephantmen on Sunday piped up, "I sing the lonely, white-boy blues. I'm complaining when I got nothing
to complain about." It got a big laugh from everyone around him. It's sad when music can be mocked so easily.
Dax Riggs (deadboy) and drummer Tessie Brunet, aided by a tour bassist, are quite the glum
Sonny and Cher, announcing the song titles and then launching into them without another word. In a post-Jeff
Buckley world, Riggs is suitably tormented but it rings hollow when he sings, "I've got hell in my hands." In a form
fitting white beater, Brunet pounded with Neanderthal simplicity, an unsophisticated repetition of splash cymbal and
snare hits. Many tunes tried for a Two Gallants sharpness and missed. At 38, I was at least 10, if not 20,
years older than most of the audience, and maybe I've just listened to enough old blues 78s to feel nothing from
shows of doom like deadboy.
The Final Word
With the clouds moving fast overhead, Phil Lesh
Friends closed out Bonnaroo 2006. By the time they were finished, the skies would open up, drenching
barefoot children who stayed the distance. Huddled under a blanket, watching the stage through heavy raindrops, I
felt this was the poetically right conclusion. It just wouldn't be Bonnaroo if I didn't get soaked at least once. Without
a doubt, this is the best line-up Phil has put together since the Phil Lesh Quintet with Warren
Haynes and Jimmy Herring. New Friends guitarists John Scofield and Larry Campbell
shined in ways their earlier work only hinted at. Keyboardist-vocalist Rob Barraco showed his
natural feel for Grateful Dead music, while drummer John Molo confirmed he’s the best percussion partner
Phil has ever had. However, the standout in Tennessee was lead singer Joan Osbourne, an undulating
firecracker in a pretty summer dress who led the band as much as Phil, especially in the heavyweight 2nd set.
Moving like a woman ready to rut, Osbourne brought in some much needed sexual energy. She made lines like
"you've got such dark eyes" on "Shakedown Street" hum with fresh, enthralling meaning. If Lesh is interested in
differentiating his solo work from the Dead, then he's picked a bang-up accomplice in Joan.
Phil Lesh by Dave Vann
Out of the gate, the ensemble played tough. I dare say Phil's friendship with Chris Robinson has let some
of the Crowes' mojo slip into the mix. You could hear it on the rusty freight train "Cumberland Blues" and later on
what may be the best post-Garcia "New Speedway Boogie" I've ever heard. The push-me-pull-me interaction is
intense, and they walk the line between rehearsed perfection and spontaneous outbursts with sure-footed
nimbleness. Hearing this combination attack - "Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain" - isn't nostalgia but a
lovely reminder of the twinned musical spirits in these compositions.
John Scofield :: Phil Lesh & Friends
by Dave Vann
During the heaviest rain, Osbourne grabbed the reins, saying, "Boys, take it down." They dutifully obliged while she
unfolded a Tennessee Williams-like tale about meeting her man wearing a negligee, a cocktail in one hand and an
ice pick in the other. We never found out how their date ended, but one imagines not well. When she purred the
word "negligee," one of my compatriots asked if we would be paying $2.99/minute for her story! I had my wallet
Phil's stated idea of telling stories with his setlists really hit home when they played "Gimme Shelter" with
all the foreboding menace of the original Stones studio recording. An electric chill went up my spine as Osbourne
growled, "Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today/ If I don't get some shelter, oh yeah I'm gonna fade away."
They tickled chaos on this one, crunchy guitars and possessed piano vying for supremacy as they pushed back the
storm clouds and set the children moving to this elemental beat.
With a "Box of Rain" this temporary city came to an end. Phil and company proved the ideal punctuation on
this living, breathing entity called Bonnaroo - impassioned, brilliantly skilled and booming with a fractured but
Phil Lesh & Joan Osbourne by Dave
Believe it if you need it, and if you don’t just pass it on.
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