Furthur @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (07.28.10)
I remember fighting and arguing and causing major melt downs in my house when my parents refused to let me go see The Grateful Dead shows when Jerry Garcia was alive. I never understood my obsessive draw to The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia, nor did I understand why my parents refused to let me see them Live. I specifically recall my father asking me one day, “Why do you like all these musicians who died of some kind of overdose?” I just stared at him blankly as framed pictures of Janis and Jerry and Bonham stared back at me from my bedroom walls.
I don’t have to describe the feelings we all get when we listen to Jerry…his music, his lyrics, his sound. The shine we feel when we see his smiling picture. Such a tragic loss who had a giant impact on human nature and music. A worldly symbol of peace and love. Strike me down with lightening and hellfire but personally, Jerry has been my religion since I was 12 years old and discovered American Beauty. To this day Ripple and Attics of My Life are in my top five favorite GD tunes. Music = God.
I remember exactly where I was when I found out he had passed away. I was 15, climbing Seneca Rocks in West Virginia and remember being devastated. This was the only guitar player I had ever wanted to see Live. Even now, I don’t itch for a musician the way I itched to see him before he died. He’s always held that place in my heart as my favorite guitar player and Derek Trucks follows right behind. To this day, I equate the fact that I am fully addicted to Live music and seeing my favorite musicians religiously because one day these talented guys will be gone. Some girls have Daddy issues, I have Jerry issues.
So anyway, Futhur to me is not The Grateful Dead. Once Jerry died, I lost interest in really seeing The Dead. It’s not the same. It never will be. Fake Jerry is the most dedicated Jerry clone ever but still…he ain’t no Jerry. And so, I only saw my first Futhur show at Coney Island a few weeks ago and here I was at Nokia Theatre in Times Square to see them for the second time. It wasn’t a bad show but it wasn’t great either.
As we approached the blocks surrounding the theater, the sidewalks became thick with Deadheads and other hippe folk…and all hunting for tickets. Oddly, I never saw anyone selling a single ticket. Just lots of fingers up in the air. I didn’t have a ticket till earlier that day. Might I suggest ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS checking Craigslist for your ticket. They are almost always offered at face value or under face. Certainly not in this case, as people were willing to pay HUNDREDS for tonight’s tickets. I was miracled again so that was nice.
The scene out front of Nokia was rather gross. Wooks were everywhere, many with their dogs. To me this just seemed ridiculous. Dreaded wookies and their pit-bulls. WTF? This was Times Square and it was just awkward and menacing. I know they are nice dogs, but in masses smashed into Times Square, you never know if one of them is going to snap or feel uncomfortable. I was feeling uncomfortable under the cramped, stinky, wooked-out circumstances and I wanted to bite people….shoot.
For the first set, I had spectacular views of Bobby and Phil. So yummy. I had maneuvered my way up to the railing on the raised platform directly to the right of the stage. Perfect view. The only negative being that I couldn’t see anyone to Bobby’s right. I couldn’t see Fake Jerry, the backup singers, and I could barely see Joe. I’d deal with this later, I just wanted to dance right now. I got terribly excited right before the show. I again questioned myself as to why I had waited this long to come hear my favorite music and songs played live. I should have been more loyal to Jerry’s legacy with the passion I had for his music. Alas….
Futhur consists of:
They started the first set with Shakedown Street and Bown Eyed Woman. It sounded good overall but still kind of like they were warming up. I didn’t think anything of it. I was setteling into my show groove as well. John Kadlecik immediately brought it out on the guitar. Bobby was alert and throwing signals all over the stage. Singing was on point and the audience joined in on every word. Bob started forgetting the lyrics during Brown Eyed Woman.
So, we are three songs in and I am dancing with my eyes closed to the beginning of El Paso. It’s clear something is going on on stage, as Bobby disappeared from my ears all together. As I look on stage, his strumming had softly slowed, his swaying slowly stopped and it was as if he was passing out while standing up for just a few seconds. Pure black out stance. And IMMEDIATELY he would come back to us and get back into the song. It was weird and I was standing in a position to take in every single moment. I turned to my friends screaming, “Do you see this?” But they had been talking.
Attempting to start El Paso again, it happens again. Bobby zones completely out. Fazing back in, Phil is looking at Bobby with a very confused look. That look in particular made me nervous and I turned around, shouting at my friends again, “DO YOU SEE THIS?” Still talking, they hadn’t. Later, it registered with them why I was in such a weird freak out mood with a worried look on my face. In the moment, they were so confused. A few minutes in & Bobby approaches the mic saying “I am going to try this again.” And he did try it again. They got through the song but without any lyrics. It didn’t suck, it wasn’t particularly great and almost completely instrumental. That is the thing about live music, you never know what your going to get 🙂
Apparently, there was a ton of fighting was occurring outside. As I went to the ladies room there were numerous security guards discussing the occurrences that were taking place outside. I just heard them say there were tons of fights and kept walking. The scene inside was just as hectic but in a more fun way. There were colorful characters walking the hall ways and dancing in the isles. The over ragers had found spots along the walls to gather themselves. Security was everywhere. It was much more intense then I am used to for other shows.
By the time we were given Bertha, Bobby was back on his toes. How strange that he fazed out for such a short time. If he was dosed, as it was rumored, it would have lasted much longer then just those few minutes, right? The Ambian theory is good too but he would have passed completely out, right? Even though he didn’t appear drunk, that will be the theory I am sticking with. They ended the set with a HYPED UP Good Lovin’, bringing the heat and gaining a huge cheer from the audience at the end. Phil was clearly upset as he walked off stage. All I could think about was what was about to take place behind the scenes during set break! Oh, to be a fly on the wall back there.
Seeing Joe Russo up there behind the drums was unreal. How wonderful for him. How wonderful for us. I am a big Joe Russo fan. He is a New Yorker and one half of the Benevento-Russo Duo. He is obscure and off the handle when he plays and plays around here often. He is an innovator with energy and I thoroughly enjoyed his sound behind Bobby and Phil.
(Check out a Free rare performance of A BIG YES and a small no (A Joe Russo Project) @ Lakeside Lounge on August 19th.)
Because of my lacking view from my pretty great location, I chose to move for the second set. Some friends of ours had gotten some great seats in the middle behind the soundboard so for the second set, that is where I spent most of my time, taking off to the stairs from time to time to catch closer shoots of the stage.
The second set started off much better with Music Never Stopped. Bobby had apparently gotten over what was bothering him and he was extremely coherent. Phil was in good spirits and they got the dance party started immediately. Overall the second set was very good. Some great jams.
They covered Ryan Adam’s “Bartering Lines” half way through the set. Phil really let us have it with his bass on this one. Great song. The back up singers were soulful and when I finally recognized them in my head, I wondered why they didn’t pick up the slack on El Paso? Hmmmm? LOL……
Closing the second set with I Know You Rider, everyone sang along and danced. The lyrics: Gonna miss me when I’m gone resonated with me as I stared at the stage and missed Jerry. As I type this, I feel it must look and sound rather strange. There is such a deep emotional and nostalgic pull to that man, that even though I have never met him, never seen him live, it’s as if I have known him forever through his music. So, I miss this ghost of a man who left his soul on earth through his music.
I was actually pretty nervous that they might not come out for an encore considering what had transpired with Bobby earlier in the show. But, I was worried for nothing. They played Phil’s Donor Rap and capped off the night with Uncle John’s Band. Always a crowd pleaser.
At the end of the show, Phil went up to Bobby and gave him a huge hug. The audience went crazy for a good long while. How wonderful. Love in Jerry’s spirit. There must have been some kind of explanation that had been realized behind the scene during set break.
They pulled off a good show. I remember being happy and confused at the same time as I left the venue, overhearing all the buzz about what had occurred in the first set. We hung outside for some time and meet up with tour buddies who spent the concert looking for tickets. Everyone wanted to know what we saw. The dogs and wooks were still behaving and I saw no evidence of fights. Again, I thought that I had worried for nothing. It was a splendid night but I still knew it was nothing without Jerry. I look forward to meeting him in the afterlife. We are going to RAGE HEAVEN and HELL into the ground!!!
Wed. July 28, 2010
Nokia Theatre Times Square
New York, NY
Set 1: Shakedown Street >, Brown Eyed Women, El Paso (2x 1st verse, instrumental)>, Dire Wolf, Row Jimmy, I Need a Miracle >, Bertha >, Good Lovin’
Set II: Music Never Stopped, Colors of the Rain>, Cassidy, Cold Rain and Snow, Bartering Lines, Space, Born Cross-eyed, Stella Blue, I Know You Rider
Encore: Donor Rap & Uncle John’s Band