Article and photos by Paul Tsikitas.
This past week, Philly was treated to Dinosaur Jr. playing through their seminal 1988 album Bug, in it's entirety. Touring a 23-year old album with Henry Rollins in tow may seem to some like either something out of a slacker's cream dream or something that just doesn't make any sense. However, Dinosaur Jr.--having been re-energized since re-uniting their original line-up back in 2005--has unleashed two of their best albums, 2007's Beyond and 2009's Farm. Having listened to those two albums extensively, it makes more sense that Bug is being resurrected for a full tour.
Before Rollins could sink his hooks into Dinosaur Jr., punk rock supergroup Off! got to unleash a furious set. Seeing members of Black Flag and Philly's own Burning Brides slay through 10 or so songs was the perfect starter. Then Henry Rollins took over, and the Electric Factory crowd was going nuts. In fact, when J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph strolled out shortly after, there were still people chanting for Rollins. Rollins interviewed the band asking questions like a giddy school girl. He even proclaimed to be the biggest Dinosaur Jr. fan out there. It was kind of obvious that, as usual, Rollins was right. There was one wistful moment when Lou Barlow recollected having written some negative things about J and Murph and it was a touching moment, if not ruined by that guy screaming "ROLLINS" every 27 seconds. The band left the stage and the real moment of truth came.
Before launching into Bug, Dino J kicked off with "The Lung" and "The Wagon", keeping in pace with the album's intensity. Nothing slowed down from there. "Freak Scene" is a show stopper. The guys, who resemble dinosaurs themselves, had a relentless energy. "Let It Ride" was my personal favorite highlight. J's guitar was in full tilt. Album closer "Don't" usually screamed by Lou Barlow was pawned of to a local fan. It was an intense ride. They came back for a two song encore highlighted by their biggest hit "Feel the Pain." The night was a blur of sound and pure rock ferocity. A perfect rendition of an intense album.
Other than the few overly intense Henry Rollins fans, this was purely a night of celebrating Dinosaur Jr. They may not have the star power of, say, Soundgarden, their grungy counterparts (who are also touring this year), but they have a relevance and sound that is equally as powerful. Even after seeing Dinosaur Jr. a handful of times, my excitement never lagged. This was a night of pure punk rock fury that I will never forget.
Article and photos by Paul Tsikitas.
This was my first time seeing Garage A Trois since they replaced power-genius acid-jazz guitar-god Charlie Hunter with avant-garde golden-boy piano-prodigy Marco Benevento. I wasn't sure what to expect, especially considering that I was always 'so-so' on the few Benevento projects I had the opportunity to see. But I gotta hand it to him. Marco may have stole the show.
I'm not sure exactly why I was half expecting MB to be all over the place. If they can keep Skerik on a tight shock-collar, the brash young organ talent should be more than happy to stick to the script despite his flair for bragadociery. But if his improvisational flow is a garden hose, then Garage has put a thumb over half the spigot to make the concentrated stream burst forth with twice the force, and thrice the effectiveness. Benevento's solo's were truly electrifying. Mesmerizing. Every other adjective used to describe major motion pictures. Getting a primo spot on the balcony gave me a compelling view of his dancing fingers which tore through stratospheric scales and satanic modes at bullet-train speeds. By comparison, Marco shredding through octaves and sevenths makes lightening bolts look like molasses. My mind was effectively blown. Dancing ensued.
As for the rest of the crew? Well Stanton Moore is a figurehead for far more than all of apocalypse-era New Orleans music. He is an innovator of far more than the preferred drum method of percussion instructors around the country. He is a live and session favorite of--well, probably everybody. He smiles when he plays and makes the skins sing. And I'd like to note that if there ever was a modern jazz act dearer to my heart than Garage A Trois (as well as the aforementioned Mr. Hunter's albums), it would have to be the Stanton Moore Trio.
Skerik, whose awesome sax wrongdoings have echoed in the halls of Olympus as having been part of Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, plays gymnast-tight bluesy lines and isn't afraid to even sit out for breaks while Marco dominates the higher registers. Hell, he's probably exhausted because his other band, The Dead Kenny G's, was the opening act and that's where Skerik does his real brutalities. At one point during the Gs' set, he actually beat-boxes into his sax mic and loops the effect for some hip-hop breakdowns. Meanwhile, the last Garage-man and also a member of the G's--percussionist Mike Dillon--does demonic things with the vibraphone and operates effects pedals and pads coming out the wozz. Mike D seems to represent the more inappropriate emotions that can be associated with instrumental music and I definitely wouldn't have it any other way.
I haven't had a chance to hear their new album, Power Patriot. But the two new tracks from their myspace are succulent, especially 'Germs'. Check that out, fast: http://www.myspace.com/garageatrois. There's not all that much else for me to say about these guys... get all their albums, see them live, Marco Benevento rocks, it's a continual cavalcade of Yes.
I got to sit down at Chris's Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia just as Psychedelphia was setting up shop. I was excited to check them out based on their name and venue alone, but I wasn't sure what variety of jazz/psychedelic music I was going to get. When they took the stage, what I ended up getting was a well-organized, tonally pleasing jam-band that managed to skirt past predictability without getting inaccessable. Think of a less over-ambitious Phish, with Greatful Dead major chord optimism and an occasional splash of King Crimson-esque segeuways and time signatures. Not willing to let these guys slip by, I cought up with lead guitarist Kenn Mogul after the show, for a chat.
MM: Who are all the band members? How long have you guys been playing together?
Kenn: Alden Parker plays rhythm guitar, John Olsen plays bass, Adam Pasqual plays drums. We’ve been together since last August.
MM: How did you guys get started?
Kenn: Alden is from Tennessee. Adam, John, and I are all from the Pottstown area in PA. I got back from a 7 month spiritual retreat. There was an open jazz jam at this venue called Chaplans. We played together at this weekly, free form jam session for a few weeks, and we decided to start working on original material in mid-August'08. Our HQ is this place called the Nuke Farm near the power plant in Limerick.
MM: What are your influences?
Kenn: We have all different influences. The most common amongst us is the Beatles. You probably would HEAR that as much from our finished result though. Alden’s big in to Widespread Panic, Bela Fleck and the Fleck Tones, Phish… one of my biggest influences is Steve Kimmock. We have a heavy San Francisco, Denver influence, what we’re doing isn’t really done in Philadelphia.
MM: What’s the songwriting process like?
Kenn: I write 95% of the music. I write melodies in my head; I think every melody tells a story, so when I think of something, I write the melodies down with words in story form.
MM: If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell me a little bit about your 7 month spiritual retreat?
Kenn: I had just got out of the band Mogul’s Brew. Some people achieve a decent amount of success, then when the shit hit’s the fan, ya kinda go a little crazy. I sorta went the Jack Kaeroak route, Denver was the first stop. I wrote a lot of songs. Every player has to realize what they’re capable of... And then deal with the fear of what you’re capable of.
Kenn: That was a big part of the past for a few of us, but we’re all clean now and just enjoy a few beers.
Kenn: We record all our shows live. We have an EP that we recorded about a month after we started. We’re currently working on an LP that’s half live, half studio.
Kenn: Yea, we’ve been approached a few times but we’re trying to keep it very DIY at the moment. On the horizon, we plan to look for a band to dour with on the east coast, then maybe head out west.
Pychedelphia - Submerged.mp3