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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...