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...