Summer = Concerts

I have had a delightful run of shows recently that warrant recognition. Prospect Park has been ripe with great offerings and I have seen several bands that really impressed me. Poliça and Yeasayer kicked off my season, Sufjan Stevens assembled a supergroup to perform his audiovisual opus, “Planetarium”, Andrew Bird’s looping violin entranced (although I was slightly distracted by my children, who were loving the late bedtime and large roaming range on the lawn with kids of all ages), Admiral T from Guadeloupe brought French dancehall and West Indian flavor (with bootleg rum punch making the rounds), while last night offered up a truly memorable experience with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, featuring the original lineup of Wooten Brothers on bass and synth-ax drumitar and Howard Levy rejoining after 25 years to bring his harmonica wizardry back to the group. Each of these musicians is the best on their respective instruments that I have ever seen and the compositions are technical showcases for their jaw-dropping feats. Two of these Park adventures continued for a nightcap at Barbes, where I saw a fantastic 70s style Latin-American Cumbia group, Money Chicha, and a great blues/funk/soul/horned-up ensemble Gato Loco.

I even had a throwback night at Madison Square Garden with Phish, night nine of the Baker’s Dozen run. Although my hardcore dedication has waned through the years, I still feel deeply connected to this quartet. From my first encounter with a bootleg Somerville Theatre ’91 tape on the bus with Greg – You Enjoy Myself – I was hooked forever. As I write this, I am listening to a high quality live stream of tonight’s show on Mixlr, which seems to be the natural evolution of the taper culture and band philosophy. While Phish and phans may be rooted in history and nostalgia, they are locked into the Now more than any other band I can think of; they are unpredictable and always full of surprises, making every show suspenseful. (Just as I wrote that sentence they broke into a cover of Radiohead’s “Everything In It’s Right Place” and I actually said “Woah” out loud to myself). They are the most creative musical group that I have had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand and I feel lucky to have been inspired by them for the last 25 years.

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