Mike Gordon Returns To New York City For Brooklyn Steel Debut
Bassist Mike Gordon unveiled the current lineup of his five-piece back in June of 2015 and they’ve since embarked on numerous tours. However, over the nearly three-year period the group had yet to perform in New York City. On Saturday night, the lineup of Gordon, guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Robert Walter, drummer John Kimock and percussionist Craig Myers finally made their NYC debut at one of the Big Apple’s newest venues – Brooklyn Steel. The quintet showed all the road work they’ve put in has paid massive dividends.
Brooklyn Steel has the vibe of a warehouse, with good sightlines and even better sound. Gordon’s bass reverberated nicely throughout the room all night long. Mike issued his latest album, OGOGO, back in September and used his touring band to record the LP. A number of the songs found on OGOGO were debuted at last summer’s High Sierra Music Festival and the group has been focusing on the material ever since. Compositions that were played in a fairly straight-forward fashion last summer have now been opened up. The five-piece’s propensity to jam was on display right from the start.
Gordon’s dynamic lead bass lines mesh so well with Murawski’s mix of funky rhythms and slick leads. John Kimock is a force behind the kit and powers the band’s improvisational excursions so well, while Myers swaps between traditional percussion and e-beats. All the while, Robert Walter adds layers of synth and the occasional electric piano solo. The style of jamming is unlike any other project Mike has been a part of as its informed not only by the Dead, Phish and Allmans but by more contemporary indie bands.
The five-piece pulled off a slick “Victim” > “Victim 3D” pairing to open the first of two sets in Brooklyn. “Equilibrium” was the third OGOGO track in as many songs. Mike then stepped to the mic and talked about how happy the band was to be back in Brooklyn and how they had walked the neighborhood ahead of the show. He then prepped the audience for one of the group’s most experimental compositions, “Trapezoidal Sunshine.” During the peak of the song, Scott and Mike engaged in a shred-off that was egged on by an MC who took the stage to give play-by-play. The pair literally used paper shredders, eliciting laughs from the crowd. Gordon and Murawski were sly about who the MC was, but at one point Mike mentioned the guy who provided play-by-play was Scott’s cousin.
Mike sung an impressive cover of Jon Cleary’s “Got To Be More Careful” and then the band provided a strong finish to the stanza with the one-two punch of “Destiny Unbound” and “Tiny Little World.” The quintet absolutely nailed the composed portions of “Destiny,” a song first played by Phish, and they turned the solo section into more of a full band jam. Originally found on 2014’s Overstep, the group dug into “Tiny Little World” with passion and opened it up between the catchy choruses.
The five-piece went with “Whirlwind” and “Steps” off OGOGO to begin the evening’s second set. Mike’s Lighting Designer provided cool looks throughout the evening, often using projections, but none more so than during “Steps.” Next, Murawski led the group on Fiona Apple’s “Sleep To Dream,” which the band linked to the loping OGOGO number “Marissa” and Overstep outtake “Normal Phoebe.” The jams connecting each were among the highlights of the night. Gordon & Go. ended the evening with a pair of covers as they lit up Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” to conclude the second set and encored with a Murawski-sung version of “Cities” by the Talking Heads.
Mike Gordon concludes his short March run tonight in Albany.
Set One: Victim > Victim 3D, Equilibrium, Trapezodial Sunshine, Got To Be More Careful, Destiny Unbound, Tiny Little World
Set Two: Whirlwind, Steps, Sleep To Dream > Marissa > Normal Phoebe, Sweet Emotion
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