mAyfLOwers 2: OH, WHAT A NIGHT!

Words by Tanner Wyer :: Images by Josh Miller & Susan Weiand

mAyfLOwers 2 :: 05.28.06 :: Los Robles Lodge :: Santa Rosa, CA

Oftentimes, I find myself wanting more in shows.

More bust outs, more songs, more sit-ins, more "oh shit" moments. More is just better. Sometimes, too much is just not enough.

DJ Logic by Josh Miller
Over Memorial Day weekend, Falcor and Friends, a Bay Area-based production company, put together a celebration worthy of someone who just wants more out of a concert experience. mAyfLOwers 2: Maximum Flair was all that. And the lasers were pretty crazy too.

The concert didn't take place in a typical venue, for this party was a road show. Falcor and Friends had scouted out a different type of location to provide a different kind of experience. Two different hotels in Santa Rosa hosted this year's event, and for those that had booked rooms, a pool party was thrown to get things started early and thank attendees for showing up. With the weather being perfect, the beer being free, and DJ Logic on the turntables, I'm pretty sure the Days Inn had never really seen anything like it. By the time Logic's extended set had ended, the free shuttle was fired up and attendees were taken to the Los Robles Lodge, where Moonshine Still and Animal Liberation Orchestra would play two inspired sets without limitations from a curfew.

Just walking into the reception room at Los Robles Lodge, I knew we were in for some serious business.

mAyfLOwers 2 by Susan Weiand
The room was just dripping with awesomeness. A very clever ambiance team had worked real hard to provide a feast for the eyes, as the room contained many black-light lit flowers, five-foot-tall inflatable flamingos, and the aforementioned red and green lasers, which at times looked as though the Empire and Rebel Forces were going at it in one of the most ridiculous light saber wars ever. By the time Moonshine Still took the stage to open the show, the room was filled with people who took the theme of "Maximum Flair" to the extreme with their costumes. Between the ambiance and the costumes, the room was straight up, for lack of a better word, tripped out.

Maximum Flair by Susan Weiand
The one thing about Moonshine Still that really bugs me is that I never get to see them play. Their trips to the West Coast have been few and far between since I first heard them a few years ago. I was real interested to see how this particular performance would go for them, as it would be their seventh performance with their new drummer, Jon Joiner. If I had to sum up their performance in three words, I would probably say, "They killed it." I was astounded by the tightness of the group, especially since they'd been playing with Joiner for only seven shows. Bands like the Disco Biscuits and Particle took months off to replace a member of the group, whereas Moonshine Still made their switch mid-tour. The best part was that you honestly would never have known.

I had the opportunity to talk to Jon and lead vocalist/guitarist Scott Baston earlier in the evening about the switch mid-tour, and both were ecstatic about the way things were going. "I've been a fan of this band for a long time, and it's so much fun to be playing these songs," Joiner said. "I'm really enjoying the opportunity, and it just feels so good to be stretching the songs out and adding to them."

Scott Baston :: Moonshine Still :: by Josh Miller
"I really feel like I'm playing with a whole new band," Baston added. "I mean, I've been doing Moonshine Still as a project for a decade, but with this current lineup, it's so new and fresh. We've known Jon for so long, and when we needed to find a new drummer, we knew he was going to be perfect. We just wrote our first song together the other day, and the chemistry in the band has a new fire to it."

The chemistry was more than apparent for their two-hour opening set. Bassist Ray Petren was dropping solid bombs over the costumed crowd all night, while guitarist David Shore's scorching licks ignited the room into frenzy. The unquestionable highlight of the set was when DJ Logic joined the band on stage for a jaw- dropping rendition of "Earth People." The sound was huge, and the crowd loved every note that the Macon, Georgia locals were putting out. The heat was on, and by the time Moonshine had finished up, the bar had been set pretty high for ALO.

Zack Gill :: ALO :: by Susan Weiand
Donning crazy attire and excited to broaden the scope of the evening, ALO took the stage and let loose. Opening with one of the darkest versions of "The Gardener" ever, the band seemed less focused than normal on what songs they were going to hit in their set and more focused on simply playing those songs in ways they never had before. "BBQ" followed, and though the first moments were rocky, the band soon segued into a cover of "Machine Gun" by The Commodores, during which the party erupted into a full-on funk fest. Another huge highlight of the first set was the closer, an 18-minute version of Rick James' "Mary Jane," where ALO displayed their prowess as masters of the late-night party. By the time the first set ended, it was nearly two in the morn' and ALO had a whole lot more in store.

One way to think of ALO's music when they get into their zone is that it's like one big game of racquetball. In racquetball, the corners are the more vital and important part of the court. If you can utilize the corners and ultimately rely on them, the ball will return twice as fast as you hit it, because you're hitting two separate walls. If you can keep working the corners, eventually the ball is moving so fast that it becomes unstoppable.

Steve Adams :: ALO :: by Josh Miller
ALO is a band that owns the corners. The funk they drop just absolutely floors you. One is left breathless, like chasing a ball hurtling around the racquetball court. But trust me, it's a good sweat.

Not slowing down at all, ALO launched the second set into pure bliss by busting out an older tune, "#2," and perfectly segueing it into Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," at which point the crowd littered the room with glow sticks. If the room had some lights in it before, it was shimmering now. Even Moonshine Still's Scott Baston got into the fun, mixing it up with the crowd on the dance floor before joining ALO on stage for a gospel rendition of the Pointer Sisters' "Yes We Can." The night tore along, and the crowd started to disperse as it got later, and later... and later. "Walls of Jericho," "Chily Chile," and a new tune "Time and Heat" made their way out, each met with cheers of approval from the crowd. Guitarist Dan Lebowitz seemed to be so on target, his hand furiously abusing his fret board. As the sun began to rise outside, ALO started the opening notes to the Garcia/Hunter classic "They Love Each Other." At this point, the party had been in swing for a full 13 hours, but the good news was that you only had to walk to your hotel room to crash.

When it was all said and done, mAyfLOwers 2 was a portrait of success. From the pool party to the concert that raged into the morning light, it was apparent that the bands had a blast, the fans were blown away, and smiles were all around as the sun was coming up on the Memorial Day holiday.

JamBase | Bay Area
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[Published on: 6/29/06]

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koach starstarstarstarstar Sat 7/1/2006 02:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sound amazing, i think moonshine still is a great band and everyone shold give them a listen, same with ALO, the orchestrA lives>>>>>>>>>

tylerblue starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 05:09PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

What a great review Tanner. You totally nailed it. It's hard to explain those, "you just had to be there" kind of nights.
mAyfLOwers was hands down the best ALO show ever. I liked what you said about Moonshine too. Oh what a Night indeed.