Words by Andy Tennille, Tanner Wyer & Kayceman
Images by Michael Jurick, Dave Vann & Andy Tennille
Vegoose Music Festival :: 10.27.06 - 10.31.06
Las Vegas, NV
Vegas. The Entertainment Capital of the World. America's Playground. Lost Wages.
Whatever you call it, Las Vegas offers a different adventure for every new sinner arriving in Sin City.
Some come to strike it rich or with hopes of a new beginning; others are trying to escape their sordid pasts or ride off into the sunset.
The same can be said for Vegoose, the Halloween music festival thrown by Superfly and AC Entertainment for the past two years at UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium. Some bands – The Raconteurs, Gomez, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Built to Spill and The Killers – arrived at Vegoose riding the wave of successful new albums, while others, like Widespread Panic, The Mars Volta, Trey Anastasio and The Black Crowes, were in search of a rebirth following personnel changes. Fiona Apple, Money Mark and Praxis all expanded the musical horizons of Vegoose attendees, while The Roots, Jurassic 5, The Coup and Dr. Octagon brought the hip-hop vibe. Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, Jim James and Damien "Junior Gong" Marley came to Vegas to make a name for themselves, while Saturday headliners Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Phil Lesh & Friends and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann's Rhythm Devils are entering the twilight of their careers.
Vegoose by Vann
Old or young, rich or poor, famous or infamous, everyone comes to Las Vegas chasing a different dream. Some find theirs amid the iridescent glow of The Strip; others are led astray like a mirage in the Nevada desert.
-Andy Tennille (AT)
Friday :: 10.27.06
Robert Randolph :: The Orleans Arena
"It's very hard to survive in Sin City for somebody from any church, but you can just appreciate what Vegas has to offer, take it step by step and have a good time. Let it be innocent, but still have fun. Just flow with it."
Randolph & Anastasio :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Vann
Robert Randolph swirls the remnants of his Patron silver tequila in a red plastic Solo cup as a broad grin spreads across his sweaty face. The prince of the pedal steel and his Family Band have just finished opening for Trey Anastasio at The Orleans Arena on the Friday night before the official festival kickoff, and the party is in full swing backstage. Randolph is in town promoting his new album, Colorblind, which comprised most of the band's hour-long set. A mix of soul, rock, hip-hop and funk, Colorblind is a continuation of 2003's Grammy-nominated Unclassified, which saw Randolph and the Family Band begin to spread their wings beyond their gospel background. But most of all, Randolph says the new album is about one thing – love.
"It's all about love, man. When you love yourself first, you can appreciate and love other people. That's what I tried to do with this record – to get people to celebrate life and love," the New Jersey native pontificates. "It's not so much a sexual love or a sensual love. It's more like an 'I care for you' kind of thing. I want to help lift you up when you're down. This record is a celebration of life. I hope people realize that life can be snatched away from you at any moment."
Trey Anastasio :: The Orleans Arena
Interestingly enough, the night's headliner has apparently experienced a similar cathartic experience of late. When Trey Anastasio walked offstage and away from Phish at Coventry in August 2004, fans wondered openly why the guitarist would walk away from the fame and success he'd achieved from a 21-year relationship with Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and Page McConnell. After a few months spent recording what eventually became Bar 17, the guitarist emerged with the underwhelming 70 Volt Parade touring band and the pop-leaning Shine, a commercially successful album not fully embraced by Phish's skeptical fan base. As quickly as the Parade started, it ended. Bassist Peter Chwazik and drummer Skeeto Valdez were replaced by the New Orleans funk duo of Tony Hall and Raymond Weber. With Les Hall's departure earlier this year and the addition of fellow Vermonters Jennifer Hartswick and Christina Durfee on backing vocals, the current incarnation of the Trey Anastasio Band was born.
Anastasion & Hall :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Vann
Not only did Anastasio arrive in Vegas with a new band, including Jeff "Apt. Q258" Sipe on drums in place of an ailing Weber, but Big Red also had a new lease on life. According to recent interviews, amid all the chaos following Phish's break-up, Anastasio has been battling demons in the form of drug addiction. Whatever catharsis the guitarist has undergone, the experience is evident in his music. With old friend Ray Paczkowski still anchoring the keyboards and Hall and Sipe driving a tight groove, Anastasio had room to play and explore without the constraint of another guitarist in the mix. The result was a more focused sound – "Simple Twist Up Dave" and a stellar "First Tube" got things started nicely before Randolph and Family Band organist Jason Crosby sat in for a red-hot reading of Hendrix's "Stone Free." "Push On Til the Day" may have been the pinnacle of the show, but the real highlight was seeing Anastasio back with a band that could keep up and challenge him musically. G.R.A.B. managed to accomplish it this summer, and TAB 2.0 proved they're up for the challenge in Vegas.
Trey Anastasio :: 10.27 :: The Orleans by Tennille
Continue reading for Saturday at Vegoose...
Press "Play" to Check out Backstage with JamBase's Vegoose Video Montage...
Saturday :: 10.28 :: Sam Boyd Stadium
Gomez :: 12:20 – 1:20
Gomez may have traveled the longest path to get to Vegoose. The blokes from Southport, England have hit the U.S. hard this year, playing Bonnaroo, JazzFest, Beale Street, Sasquatch and Vegoose - all while supporting Out West, a live album compiled from two nights recorded at The Fillmore in San Francisco last January, and How We Operate, the band's new studio album released in May.
Gomez by Vann
While the band didn't officially open Vegoose 2006 (that honor went to Asheville's Toubab Krewe), their set lacked the energy that a larger crowd would have brought. Most in attendance hid their bleary eyes behind dark shades, whether they were navigating a treacherous all-nighter or simply summoning whatever energy was gained from a few scant hours of sleep. Gomez was much the same; their set was pleasant enough, but the band looked tired and failed to connect with the audience and create some excitement. Opening with "Shot Shot" off 2002's In Our Gun, the band split their set between older tunes and material from How We Operate, including a great "Hangover Girl" with a ripping tease of Zep's "How Many More Times."
Trying to play a rock show at the same time most little kids are scarfing Fruity Pebbles and watching cartoons is difficult; doing it without much encouragement from the audience proved impossible for Gomez.
Praxis :: 1:15 – 2:15
Las Vegas is bigger than life; it's a caricature of itself. Too much for one man to comprehend, this make-believe city in the desert is a mask that millions hide behind as they seek out their dirtiest desires. Brian Carroll is too much as well. So much indeed that his alien guitar skills and spooky-ass dementia led Carroll to strap on a hockey mask and KFC bucket to forever transform into Buckethead. With one of the most talented group of players alive, Buckethead, bassist (and producer-extraordinaire) Bill Laswell, keysman Bernie Worrell and Brain on drums were the first to truly blow minds at Vegoose. (Editor's Note: We are unable to confirm that Brain was on drums in Vegas, but we believe he was.)
Bill Laswell - Praxis by Tennille
As Buckethead teased the notes to Halloween and led the band through a Star Wars medley, it was quickly apparent that on Halloween weekend in Las Vegas at a freakfest like Vegoose, there was no better foil than Praxis. To drive the sprit of the holiday home, Laswell found deep frequencies most had never considered while Buckethead stepped off the stage to hand-deliver a gift of unknown origin to a mask and bucket-wearing disciple in the crowd. The power of Praxis would prove to be like a flush at the poker table, difficult to beat and an absolute highlight of the weekend.
MMW with Maceo Parker :: 2:40 – 3:40
Click here to watch Backstage with JamBase's Billy Martin Vegoose Interview
Downtown Gotham jazz groovers Medeski Martin & Wood have proven over the course of their 15-year career that three musicians are more than enough. But it's been the band's choice of collaborators over the years in both live concerts as well as in the studio setting – Sex Mob founder Steven Bernstein, Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Mark Ribot, Sun Ra sax man Marshall Allen, Trey Anastasio and John Scofield among them – that has pushed the band into new sonic territory that was perhaps unreachable by a trio alone.
Medeski Martin & Wood by Jurick
Maceo Parker – he of James Brown, Parliament and Prince fame – has made a career out of augmenting other people's music. Nor was this Parker's first foray into jamming with MMW – he'd done so six years prior at a festival date in Maryland. But it was the ease with which the consummate sideman slid right into the trio's set on Saturday at Vegoose that made it feel as if he'd been playing with them all along. Beginning with "The Lover" off 1995's Friday Afternoon in the Universe, Parker peppered MMW's set with alto saxophone and flute solos that escalated the musical tension onstage and provided Medeski and Wood with opportunities to exchange riffs and improvise. In return for his horn magic, MMW backed Parker on two choice covers from his own catalogue – "Uptown Up" off 2002's Funk Overload and "Quick Step" from 2003's Made by Maceo. The covers continued with a jazz-funk version of Peter Tosh's "Legalize It" that was met with billowing clouds of stanky smoke emanating from the growing audience before the group ended their set with a fantastic version of "Chubb Sub" off Friday Afternoon in the Universe, bringing the set full circle to where it started an hour before.
In addition to his appearance during MMW's set, Parker fronted his own band for a late-night show at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay that started shortly after the festival's main stage closed on Saturday night. Aided by rumors that a certain special guest from Paisley Park would make an appearance, the House of Blues was full of buzz and anticipation throughout Parker's ultra-funky set. Just as the night's expectations threatened to supersede the band's performance, none other than Prince walked out from side stage left, grabbed a guitar and ripped one of his trademark otherworldly solos before tossing the instrument into the crowd. Rock royalty hit it and quit it, all in less than 90 seconds. Take me to the bridge, Maceo!
Medeski Martin & Wood with Maceo by Tennille
The Raconteurs :: 3:50 – 4:50
When you're good, and I mean really good, you can dictate policy and run the table. Only the best are able to pull it off, but if you are on that level you can take huge risks and end up with incredible results. For example, you might even be able to create music that is able to reach both the popular radio masses and the discerning tastemakers. With a guitar in his hand and a mic in his face, there may be no better than Jack White. Having already conquered the music world with his White Stripes, logic says that Jack should just continue milking the cow, but that's not what a legend in the making does.
The Raconteurs by Jurick
What does Jack White do at the peak of his career? He splits up his pair and doubles down creating The Raconteurs. Risky? A gamble you say? Sure. But what we didn't know was that Jack was holding Brendan Benson in his hand, and Benson is a clear ace. At their Vegoose set, the band ran through most of the material on their stellar debut, Broken Boy Soldier and mixed in a fabulous cover of David Bowie's "It Ain't Easy." However predictable the songs may have been was irrelevant, it was all about how they played their hand, each song taking on new colors and different angles. It was a raging rock show with giant slabs of guitar sweeping across the crowd while the sun was still out.
The Raconteurs by Jurick
The Raconteurs called to mind rock greats of the past as they controlled the tempo of songs, building them up and smashing them open. While there were hints of rock heroes in their sound, the magic of Jack White is something all his own. The approach he uses and the tone of his guitar is what will set him apart in 20 years. It's as if Jack's power overwhelms the system. There is too much rock & roll coming out of his guitar and trying to be forced through those tiny wires and pick-ups. His gritty guitar is constantly spilling over the edges, too much to understand, distorted, dirty, sexual, menacing... much like Las Vegas herself.
Yard Dogs Road Show :: All Weekend Long
Click here to watch Backstage with JamBase's Yard Dogs Road Show Vegoose Interview
With attendance down this year due to weaker-than-expected ticket sales, organizers decided against using the football stadium to house the main stage and instead squeezed four stages into the same surrounding fields that held three in 2005. The result was an event that had a more personal feel despite being one of the top music festivals in the States last year.
Yard Dogs Road Show by Tennille
The more intimate feel of this year's festival was due, in no small part, to the five performances of the Yard Dogs Road Show. The bastard child of The Flaming Lips, the Yard Dogs combine elements of the old-time vaudeville road show and burlesque cabaret featuring a bevy of scantily-clad dancers and talented performers doused with loads of confetti, balloons and streamers and backed by a crack gypsy band. More than anything, the Yard Dogs offered concert-goers a nice break from the more traditional rock festival fare and a mid-afternoon respite from the beaming Nevada sun.
Damian Marley :: 5:00 – 6:15
Damian "Jr." Gong Marley by Jurick
The Mars Volta :: 6:25 – 7:55
One of the reasons JamBase went to Vegoose was to start exploring our video dreams and start bringing new content to our users. A focus in our filming was artist interviews, and there was one answer we kept hearing from almost every musician we spoke with.
The Mars Volta by Tennille
JamBase: What bands are you looking forward to seeing on the bill?
Artist: The Mars Volta.
Lucky for me (as I was doing most of these interviews) that too was one of the main reasons I was in Las Vegas. As night began to fall on the first day of Vegoose, I wrapped up my interview with Killers bassist Mark Stoermer (click here to watch) and we both bee-lined it for the Snake Eyes Stage, arriving just as the eight-piece, Latin-laced rock band took the stage. What we quickly learned was that while many artists and a couple-thousand rabid fans were foaming at the mouth awaiting The Mars Volta, a large portion of attendees just couldn't handle the heat as they began to flee the madness that was pouring off the stage.
What we also found out was that The Mars Volta gamble huge, and apparently they never lose. Twice in the past year the band has switched drummers yet refused to take a break from the road. That, my friend, especially when considering the acrobatic skills required of a drummer in this band, is a giant gamble. This time throwing beat master Deantoni Parks (best known for his work in Kudu) directly into the fire, The Mars Volta played just three songs in their hour-and-a-half-long set: the brand new "Rapid Fire Tollbooth" and "Viscera Eyes" > "Day of the Baphomets." The remainder of the show was a giant, psychedelic jam session where the Volta basically just freaked the fuck out. Front man/vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala was humping the speaker, jumping off it, picking up the mic stand with his teeth and reaching incredible heights with his operatic voice while following guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez straight to the depths of hell in the fiercest set of music all weekend.
The Mars Volta by Jurick
Jurassic 5 :: Saturday :: 7:30 – 9:00
Click here to watch Backstage with JamBase's Jurassic 5 Vegoose Interview
Coming out of The Mars Volta, the plan was to hit a bit of The Black Crowes and a chunk of Las Vegas natives, The Killers. The problem was that after Omar and his Volta band did their thing, there was no more room inside the melon for guitar rock. Tossing the schedule out the window and spinning our luck, we found the sound of Jurassic 5 and quickly remembered that after one's head is split by psychedelic rock & roll, hip-hop is your answer.
Jurassic 5 by Vann
Beats spilled from the stage like sweaty bodies under the tent as hands were flapping and Vegoose was partying. J5 was able to beat the odds as they transformed a tent in the middle of the desert into a bumpin' club, wowing the crowd with one of the best live hip-hop shows on the circuit.
The Black Crowes :: 7:30 – 9:00
2006 may be the year of The Dog in China, but here in the States, this year was supposed to be the year of The Black Crowes.
Chris Robsinson - Black Crowes by Jurick
Since reuniting last year, the Crowes have hit the road hard, headlining a New Year's Eve show at Madison Square Garden and three of the biggest festivals in the States (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Bonnaroo, and Austin City Limits Festival) in addition to multi-night runs at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom, Los Angeles' Henry Fonda Theatre and The Fillmore in San Francisco. The band also released Freak 'N' Roll Into the Fog, a live concert DVD documenting the band's run at The Fillmore in August 2005, and The Lost Crowes, a two-disc collection featuring songs from sessions recorded in the '90s for two previously unreleased albums: Tall and Band. A summer full of stellar live performances, combined with talk of a new studio album in the works, gave fans hope that the band had finally put all the in-fighting and back-biting behind them and were firmly focused on a future together, yet drama continues to dog the Crowes.
On the eve of their fall tour, the band dismissed long-time keyboardist Eddie Harsch. A week later, powerhouse guitarist Marc Ford quit, and both musicians were quickly replaced by Paul Stacey on guitar and Rob Clores on keyboards.
The Black Crowes by Jurick
While the band continues to be led by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, the loss of Ford left a noticeable void in the band's festival set. Gone was the guitar interplay between Rich Robinson and Ford that drove so much of the band's improvisations, and Clores showed none of the instrumental flair and prowess that Harsch brought on a regular basis.
"Halfway to Everywhere" and "Soul Singing" showed why Chris Robinson is the modern-day torchbearer to Eddie Hinton's white-boy, blue-eyed soulfulness, but the set-closing "Jealous Again" and "Remedy" came off like audience pandering, just another formerly relevant rock band rolling out their radio hits.
The Killers :: 8:05 – 9:35
The Killers by Jurick
Tom Petty :: 9:45 – 11:00
While many artists came to Vegoose to either find new fans or somehow jump-start their waning career, Tom Petty need not do either. He's a legend, flat-out. Perhaps riding on his last touring legs, the 56-year-old Petty is the American Dream, and that's exactly what his music sounds like.
Tom Petty by Vann
It wasn't daring like the Volta or explosive like The Raconteurs, but Tom Petty was food for the soul. Like driving down the road on a summer afternoon with the roof down and radio on, Petty was warm and inviting (even though the desert temperature had dropped drastically). We knew every word to songs we thought we had forgotten. It didn't matter that almost every song was a "hit" - heck, most of the songs Petty has written became hits, and that has certainly always been part of his appeal. Writing a good pop song that hits the heart and rocks the body is no easy task, but Petty made a career out of it.
Dancing with friends was easy, and the night felt just right after a long day. Tom Petty wasn't a show-stopping, must-see headliner, but he was an easy come-down and perfect segue into Saturday night in Sin City.
Tom Petty by Jurick
STS9 :: Saturday Late Nite :: The Hard Rock
With one day of the festival behind us, The Joint at the Hard Rock Casino just off the strip proved to be quite the place to spend your Sunday morning. Sound Tribe Sector Nine started their late night concert just before 2am for the second consecutive year, to a second sold-out Vegoose crowd. STS9 again rose to the occasion, delivering another incredible marquee performance.
The first set was focused on newer material, opening with the up-tempo "Rent" and moving into Artifact track, "Somesing." "Blu Moods" incessant guitar lick by Hunter Brown was an energetic highlight of the set, while the horn-infused electronic samples of "Hi-Key" brought the funk.
However - it was not until the second set that STS9 really accomplished what they set out to do that Sunday morning. From the beginning seconds of the boomerang-calling tones of "Lo Swaga," it was quite apparent that in this set, they were pulling out all the stops.
"Evasive Maneuvers" was a sonic exploration before dropping into one of the more explosive versions of "Kamuy" in recent years, with the living drum machine Zach Velmer relentlessly beating the shit out of his toms for several minutes. From there, Velmer took it to a whole new level by pulling out the long-time STS9 staple, "Orbital."
Encores "You Don't Say" and "GLOgli" provided some serious musical layering, and turning around to look at the crowd amidst the lights, nothing but dancing bodies and huge smiles were to be seen. The morning had ended, and it was time for a cat nap.
Phil & Trey :: Saturday Late Nite :: The Orleans Arena
Phil & Trey :: 10.28 :: Late Nite by Jurick
Ghost > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > (instrumental) Drifting > Dark Star > Mountains of the Moon > 46 Days > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Plasma
Dark Star > One For The Rose > Dark Star > Wharf Rat > I Know You Rider
Viola Lee Blues > Here Comes Sunshine > Shine
Trey - guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
John Medeski - keyboards
John Molo - drums
Larry Campbell - guitar
Christina Durfee - vocals
Continue reading for Sunday at Vegoose...
Sunday :: 10.30 :: Sam Boyd Stadium
Band of Horses :: 12:20 – 1:05
If there was a young band that came to Vegas with dreams of finding glory in the form of new fans, it was Band of Horses. Breaking onto the scene with the 2006 release of their shockingly good album Everything All The Time, Band of Horses came out of nowhere to capture the attention of the music world.
Vegoose by Vann
Not quite able to transfer the brilliance of the record to the stage, bandleader/mastermind Ben Bridwell (guitar/lap steel/vocals) appears to be getting a bit more comfortable in his skin as he's tightening up the nervous banter between songs that often deflates the power of his music. Staring into the Vegas sun on a hot Sunday morning, Bridwell found some of that heart-wrenching emotion from his album as he brought cheers with the epic rocker "Great Salt Lake," the haunting slow-burner "Monsters," and the ass-kicking ELO cover "Showdown."
Built To Spill :: 1:15 – 2:15
Sometimes when you gamble, you loose. As a rule of thumb, festivals are a gamble for bands. With so many acts on the bill, there's no time for a sound check and there's no way to get any special attention if needed.
Built To Spill by Vann
Built To Spill's set was plagued with technical issues and a stage that bounced with every beat, knocking over equipment and distracting singer Doug Martsch. Furthermore, besides placing an acoustic Jim James against Widespread Panic at night (when he clearly should have been under the sun), Built To Spill's early-day placement was questionable.
Struggling to find their groove, the band plowed through several songs from 2006's You In Reverse before hitting their stride towards the end with "Randy Described Eternity" off Perfect From Now On. Clearly pissed off, drummer Scott Plouf left the stage and started packing his gear as Martsch continued to patiently conduct a swarming guitar meltdown in front of confused audience members. As they say, you can't control the cards you're dealt; all you can do is play them as well as possible. Built To Spill did just that, performing well enough under difficult circumstances to at the very least break even at Vegoose.
Galactic :: 2:25 – 3:40
Click here to watch Backstage with JamBase's Galactic Vegoose Interview
I may be in the minority on this, but when Galactic announced the departure of Theryl "The Houseman" DeClouet in 2004, I was excited at what the future held for the current torch-bearers of Crescent City funk. I loved the dynamic that Houseman brought to the band – the smooth, soulful vocals and equally unctuous front man skills – but there were times when the core band was cookin' and his presence on stage would seemingly kill the momentum.
Ellman & Moore
Galactic by Jurick
Nothing of the sort was afoot for Galactic's set at Vegoose. The band was super tight, Ben Ellman's searing sax solos riding along the top of Rich Vogel's bouncy Hammond organ fills. Rob Mercurio and drummer extraordinaire Stanton Moore form a solid rhythm duo, but it's the subdued brilliance of guitarist Jeff Raines with his note-perfect leads that makes this band go.
Perhaps hinting at their upcoming album, which will find the band exploring their love of hip-hop fronted by various special guest MCs, Galactic brought out Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and Ladybug Mecca from Digable Planets to freestyle over their thick, swampy groove. A set-closing cover of "Kashmir" saw the band rework the Zeppelin classic and returned them to their instrumental roots, just as they should be.
Fiona Apple :: 3:50 – 5:05
Every festival offers an opportunity to see an artist that you have never seen or might not otherwise know about.
Fiona Apple by Vann
At Vegoose 2006, that artist was Fiona Apple. Buzz about the 29-year-old songstress' mid-afternoon set on Sunday built over the weekend until Apple demurely entered stage right and took a seat behind her piano. From the opening notes of "Get Him Back" through the set-closing "Parting Gift," Apple showed why she is one of the bright young stars in rock music. Coupling jazzy piano playing and band arrangements with sometimes sultry, sometimes angst-ridden vocals, Apple's performance was captivating and alluring, her highly personal songs cutting through the human emotion and splitting it wide-open for all to see. While not as well known in the jamband community as most of the other performers at Vegoose, it's safe to say that Fiona Apple wowed those in attendance and bagged a few new fans in the process.
Phil Lesh & Trey Anastasio :: 5:15 – 7:15
On October 26th, legendary Grateful Dead bass player Phil Lesh made the startling announcement that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would be undergoing an operation in December to have the malignant tumor removed.
Phil Lesh at Vegoose by Vann
This wasn't Lesh's first health scare. In 1998, the bassist underwent a liver transplant as a result of chronic Hepatitis C infection and has become an outspoken advocate for organ donor programs ever since. Lesh's recent brush with mortality has seemingly invigorated the 66-year-old Bay Area musician, resulting in the release of a new live concert DVD (Live at the Warfield Theater) on October 31st, an appearance at the Bob Dylan tribute concert at Lincoln Center, and the inaugural meeting of Phil Lesh University, an opportunity for aspiring musicians to jam with the bass player and hear his thoughts on music, life, and the Grateful Dead.
Billed as "Phil & Trey," expectations for Lesh's visit to Vegas were high as the bassist was reuniting with Trey Anastasio for two shows, one at the festival grounds and another late-night show at Orleans Arena. The lineup – Anastasio on guitar, John Molo on drums, Dylan alum Larry Campbell on guitar, Christina Durfee on back-up vocals and John Medeski on keys – had the potential to be the most talented assemblage of musicians Lesh has compiled since his famed Quintet that toured from September 2000 through December 2003. Despite the high hopes, Lesh and company's festival set never truly got off the ground until the show-closing "Help on the Way" > "Slipknot!" > "Franklin's Tower." Mike Gordon's appearance on Anastasio's guitar for "Back on the Train" was fun, and the rousing cover of Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" provided the crowd with a nice sing-a-long. Molo continues to prove what a monster drummer he is and Medeski showed why he's one of the most sought-after keysmen on the planet, but the interplay between Campbell and Anastasio just wasn't there and consequently the lineup didn't gel and deliver the type of set expected from the array of high-caliber talent on stage.
Trey & Phil at Vegoose by Jurick
Jim James :: 7:30 – 8:45
As The Roots delivered the goods across the festival grounds on the Jokers Wild Stage and Widespread Panic rocked out a few hundred yards away, the highlight of Vegoose 2006 quietly took the stage with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Broemel & James by Vann
Cloaked in the darkness of the Cabaret Clubs Tent, My Morning Jacket's Jim James and Carl Broemel emerged as the curtain rose dressed in dark suits and wielding sledgehammers threateningly at the jack-o-lanterns that lined the front of the stage. Despite the menacing entrance, the duo from Louisville, Kentucky delivered an epic set of stripped-down versions of My Morning Jacket classics including "Dancefloors," "Golden," "Bermuda Highway" and "Hopefully," as well as a few rarities like "Old September Blues," "Butch Cassidy" and "The Bear." As if to punctuate their tremendous performance, James and Broemel reclaimed their sledgehammers at the end of their set and put new meaning to the phrase "smashing pumpkins."
Some find James' celestial vocals awe-inspiring; others claim anyone can sound good with the reverb knob dialed to 10. Regardless, no one can refute the fact that James is among a select few songwriters that can deliver both delicate, intimate songs and all-out head-banging rockers with equal aplomb. This dichotomy, so rare in today's popular music, is the reason why My Morning Jacket is one of the most exciting bands in rock music today.
Widespread Panic :: 8:00 – 11:00
In Vegas one card can change your life. The world (or dealer) can back you into a corner, but if you find that one missing piece to your hand, everything can change. Coming out of a chaotic, controversial and stressful summer that found George McConnell leaving mid-tour and Jimmy Herring taking over on guitar, Widespread Panic was betting the farm on Herring. Many fans hadn't seen the new configuration until Vegoose, and most left the festival appearance impressed and interested in what Herring might have to offer... Could he be the card that pushes Panic to a new level?
Jimmy Herring - WSP by Jurick
A one-set, three-hour show with strong, cohesive versions of classic Panic songs like "Fishwater," "Chilly Water," Barstools and Dreamers" and "Ain't Life Grand," in addition to a beautiful reading of "Little Wing," were encouraging, but by the end of it all, it was clear that the Vegoose-headlining Panic show on 10/29 was a mere warm-up for what they had in store for their Halloween show the next evening.
Continue reading for SCI's Late Nite show...
String Cheese Incident Late Nite
-Photos by Dave Vann
10/29/06 Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Set I: Hey Hey We're the Monkeys, Black Clouds, Bam, Piece Of Mine, Round The Wheel > Solution > Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland, Las Vegas > Welcome to the Jungle> Drums > Jam > Welcome to the Jungle
Set II: Shantytown, Rain, Little Hands > Concrete Jungle > Bumpin' Reel, Eye Know Why > Jungle Boogie > Texas
Encore: Doin' My Time, Daryl
Continue reading for Widespread Panic's Halloween show...
Widespread Panic :: 10.30.06 (Halloween Show)
MGM Grand Theater, Las Vegas
Sometimes you go to Vegas for one reason but wind up having a completely different experience, like going for a business trip and leaving married to a hooker. Or in this case, you go for the great lineup at Vegoose, and you leave with a renewed love affair with an old, almost-forgotten flame. The show Widespread Panic managed to pull off for Halloween was so far beyond expectations it reminded many of days believed to be gone forever.
John Bell - WSP by Vann
Jimmy Herring's fluid expertise on lead was able to push Panic into areas that have not even been considered in recent years. While there is great speculation as to what exactly happened with McConnell, this is a business - and the business is music. Regardless of why, what we do know is that Jimmy Herring is making this a more dynamic and exciting band. You want proof? Look no further than the 18-minute "Diner" that Jimmy pushed and pushed on, forcing bassist Dave Schools to follow him through the tunnel and opening up room for John Bell to rap about not only himself, but also parts of "Pigeons," "Hatfield," and costumes in the crowd.
This was what Panic fans want - no need - from a Halloween show. Last year in Vegas was a let-down, perhaps the first Halloween show ever to be coined as such. But this year Widespread Panic clearly had something to prove; they wanted to make damn sure that everyone knew that the band is fucking back.
Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz - WSP by Vann
Hanging out at Vegoose on Sunday night I ran into Schools backstage. We began talking about Jimmy and how much the band is enjoying his contributions, and then Schools brought up Halloween. He said, "Last year we did some things we wanted to do. This year is for the real music fan. I know you are a real music fan..." He stressed the whole real music fan thing twice, and I had no idea what he was talking about, I just shrugged it off. What he meant was the insane list of covers they would bust out, many of which had never been played.
Panic dusted off songs by some of the biggest names in music... a show for real music fans. Alongside smoking version of their own classic tracks, Panic tore through The Beatles' "I Want You," The Grateful Dead's "Morning Dew," The Doors' "People Are Strange," War's "Slipping Into Darkness," R.E.M.'s "You Can't Get Here From There," "That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, and ten dirty minutes of Golden Earring's "Radar Love." And for those who need a nice tear-jerk to take the show "over the top," JB led the band through the first version of Michael Houser's "Airplane" since 7/2/02 - Houser's last show.
Halloween with Panic had it all. It was a reminder of what drew tens of thousands of fans to follow them around the world. It shattered what we thought Panic was capable of in the post-Mikey era. More than anything, that feeling was back... that feeling where anything can happen. There were surprises and wild cards. Chances were taken, and new doors were opened. Widespread Panic rejuvenated the souls of many fans who had given up.
WSP by Vann
After the show had ended and wild-eyed fans were pouring into the MGM Casino (which was attached to the MGM Grand Theater), something else happened that I hadn't witnessed in years. As the herd of people slowly moved their way through the stairs and elevators, the halls and walkways, sudden eruptions of cheering and adoration for Panic would spread, eventually filling up the entire area until everyone was yelling and hooting. "Normal" folks were scared. They backed up and began trying to figure out what all the commotion was about. Casino workers were on guard, wondering what the hell was going on. The message was clear... Hide the children because Widespread Panic is back in town.
10/30/06 MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Contentment Blues, People Are Strange, You Should Be Glad > John's Other Jam > Pilgrims > Greta > Sharon > Time Zones, Stop-Go > Imitation Leather Shoes > Chainsaw City
Cant Get There From Here, Slippin' Into Darkness > When The Clowns Come Home, Diner > Proving Ground > Drums > Airplane > Morning Dew > Love Tractor
That Old Black Magic, Radar Love, I Want You (She's So Heavy)
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