Phish 3D

Phish image

I got to see the Phish 3D movie this last Friday night in Dallas, Texas. The film captured the 2009 Halloween sets from the Live 8 Festival in Indio, California. This movie is not a documentary. When the film starts the music begins. It is simply Phish doing what they do best, making music. Trey Anastasio shreds his guitar, twisting the strings and producing electrifying wails. Page McConnell tickles the ivory, textures the jams, and takes off on his own solos. Mike Gordon, the soloing bassist, drops deep thudding bass lines while the drummer John Fishman wears a polka-dotted dress behind a drum set pounding out tight rhythms. All four musicians sing. Blending funk, bluegrass, rock, reggae, and jazz, Phish defies genres fusing all into a bag of joy.

This was my first 3D concert experience. And it was better than expected. The beach balls, glow sticks, and balloons fluttered through the crowd and seemingly throughout the movie theatre. It was like being at a live concert, but with better views. In fact, it might be better than an actual concert in terms of visibility. because you get to see so many different perspectives. Perhaps the live music concert is better because you get to experience the music in the moment, in the heat of the spontaneous jam sessions, and among the Phishhead culture, but in the movie theatre Trey leaps off the screen as I sit sipping a beer and eating nachos.

As the film begins Phish goes into one of their old school jams “AC/DC Bag.” Then the band plays a track from the new album Joy entitled “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan.” Next, I really liked the rockin’ version of “Undermind.” The light show was spectacular at this festival. Smoke floated by in 3D with lights piercing and slicing through the smoke into the movie theatre. As the song “Tweezer” started the lights turned a cold blue and Fishman donned a toboggan. We stepped inside a freezer and ceased her with a tweezer! From out of the freezer we emerged into the “Maze,” building and building until we eventually exploded out into space. Then we returned to earth with “Mike’s Song,” which rounded out a very strong night-time set.

The film then briefly shows some daytime scenes of the festival grounds, including the large piece of art known as the Squirming Coil. From there it cuts to the band taking to the stage with acoustic instruments. They embark on an acoustic jam that starts with “Back On The Train” from 2000’s release Farmhouse. From there the boys dig back into their catalog for a sweet version of “Strange Design.” Then Phish picks up the pace on “The Curtain With.” A trippy “Sleep Again” is followed by a sensational climaxing “Wilson.” The set concludes with “Train Song” from 1996’s release Billy Breathes.

In the third and final set Phish 3D explores a staple in the Phish phenomena, covering an album in its entirety. In this case Phish covers the legendary Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street. Unfortunately there is not enough time for the film to cover the entire album or “musical costume”  in a short movie, but we do get to see some of the highlights. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings join the band for this wonderful set of music. First we see Phish playing “Loving Cup,” which must be one of their favorites. I actually saw Phish play this song in the 1990s at Southpark Meadows in Austin, Texas. The Exile on Main Street set also includes rollicking soulful versions of “Happy,” “Shine A Light,” and “Soul Survivor.” The film winds down with a fired up version of “Suzy Greenberg” anchored by the horns and electric voices of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Phish’s big screen adventure concludes with the crowd pleasing “Tweezer Reprise.”

Phish 3D

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF JUNE 2009 – BEST OF 2009 SUMMER MUSIC

Top 20 Albums of June 2009

  1. Bob Marley and the Wailers B Is For Bob [Tuff Gong/Def Jam/Island Records 2009]
  2. Various Artists Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) [The Red Hot Organization/4AD 2009]
  3. N.A.S.A. – The Spirit Of Apollo [Anti/Epitaph 2009]
  4. AlborosieEscape From Babylon [Greensleeves 2009]
  5. Dave Matthews BandBig Whiskey And The GrooGrux King [Bama Rags 2009]
  6. The ItalsLet Dem Talk [Ital Records 2009]
  7. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley BandOuter South [Merge 2009]
  8. DJ JS-1 No Sellout [Ground Original 2009]
  9. The Dub MachinistWorldwide Dub [Control Tower France 2009]
  10. Various Artists Reggae Gold 2009 [VP Records 2009]
  11. Ini Kamoze 5150 Rule [Hottis 2009]
  12. Amadou & MariamWelcome to Mali [Nonesuch 2009]
  13. Los Granadian del Espacio Exterior Donde Ningun Hombre Ha Llegado Jamas [Liquidator Spain 2009]
  14. Method Man & RedmanBlackout! 2 [Explicit] [Island/Def Jam 2009]
  15. Regina SpektorFar [Sire 2009]
  16. Black Eyed PeasThe E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) [Interscope 2009]
  17. 311Uplifter [RCA/Jive 2009]
  18. The Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca[Domino Recording 2009]
  19. Natural BlackGuardian Angel [Zion Roots Music 2009]
  20. Sonic Youth The Eternal [Matador 2009]
  21. Paul WallFast Life [Explicit] [Asylum/WB 2009]

“Life is one big road with lots of signs,” Bob sings “So when your riding through the ruts don’t you complicate your mind.” On this album we see why Bob Marley and the Wailers ruled the world of reggae music, especially with roots reggae tracks like “Wake Up And Live – Pt. 1.”  On the new album B Is For Bob executive producer Ziggy Marley reworked some of the Bob Marley classics giving them a kid friendly edge. The album pulsates with positive vibrations. A stripped down acoustic version of “Three Little Birds” leads off the album followed by a classic acoustic version of “Redemption Song.” These two songs make for fun summer road trip  sing-a-longs. I found the version of “Satisfy My Soul” to be very sensual and in my opinion this song could be one of the best lovers’ rock tracks ever cut. A bongo almost-dancehall infused “Jamming” and new takes on “Small Axe,” “Bend Down Low” and “Stir It Up” fill out this nice addition to the Bob Marley discography. “Could You Be Loved” and “One Love / People Get Ready” also fit perfect with the kid album theme. “High Tide Or Low Tide” excellently caps off the work.

Finding their way to the top of the Jam-Tex music charts this June are a cadre of Indie-rockers and rappers. The benefit album and compilation Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) and the N.A.S.A. hip-hop project The Spirit Of Apollo. Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) includes indie rockers collaborating to make wonderful music and really this album needs to be listened to in its entirety for the best effect. The Dirty Projectors team up with David Byrne on “Knotty Pine,” while Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings provide some soulful “Inspiration Information.” The Decemberists perform “Sleepless,” while Feist and Ben Gibbard team up on “Train Song.” Iron & Wine, Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, and Arcade Fire all appear on the album.

On N.A.S.A.’s The Spirit Of Apollo George Clinton and Chali 2na Fish rock “There’s A Party (Feat. George Clinton & Chali 2na)” and dancheall wonder Sizzla joins Lovefoxxx, and the nasty female rapper Amanda Blank on the track “A Volta (Feat. Sizzla, Amanda Blank & Lovefoxxx).” My favorite duo on any of these indie compilations appears on the N.A.S.A. album when Tom Waits and Kool Keith collaborate on “Spacious Thoughts (Feat. Tom Waits & Kool Keith)”. M.I.A., Santogold, Nick Zinner, and Spank Rock drive the electro-rap jam “Whachadoin? (Feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold & Nick Zinner)“. The N.A.S.A. album certainly contains the most interesting lineup of artists, including David Byrne, Gift of Gab, Chuck D, DJ Z-Trip, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, KRS-One, Seu Jorge, Ras Congo, and Scarface on tracks like  “Money (Feat. David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge & Z-Trip),” “The People Tree (Feat. David Byrne, Chali 2na, Gift Of Gab & Z-Trip),” “Hip Hop (Feat. KRS-One, Fatlip & Slim Kid Tre),” “Strange Enough (Feat. Karen O, Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Fatlip),” and “The Mayor (Feat. The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, Scarface & DJ AM).”

Alborosie, Ini Kamoze, the Itals, and Reggae Gold 2009 provide this year’s sweltering summer reggae soundtrack. On the new Dave Matthews Band album Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King the track “Funny The Way It Is” proves the band is still putting out quality music. DJ JS-1 gathers some talented indie rappers on No Sellout, for example, Aesop Rock and C Ray Wallz rock the mics on “Karma Killerz.”

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF JUNE 2009 – BEST OF 2009 SUMMER MUSIC

TOP 10!!! September 2008

September 2008

1. Michael Franti & SpearheadAll Rebel Rockers [Anti 2008]
2. Graham WilkinsonGraham Wilkinson [Township Records 2008]
3. Burning SpearJah Is Real [Burning Music 2008]
4. John Brown’s BodyAmplify [MRI Associated 2008]
5. Busy Signal Loaded [VP Records 2008]
6. James Levy Blood Red Rose [Township Records 2008]
7. Beres Hammond A Moment in Time [VP Records 2008]
8. Queen IfricaFyah Muma [Flames 2008]
9. Kimya DawsonAlphabutt [K Records 2008]
10. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings 1000 Days, 1000 Nights [Daptone 2007]

Michael Franti & Spearhead have released an excellent reggae and pop album. The addition of the strong voice of reggae seductress Cherine Anderson over the heavy bass riddims of Sly & Robbie make this album a head nodder. “The Rude Boys Back in Town” and “Soundsystem” display Spearhead’s block rocking ability while two versions of “Hey World” encapsulate Franti’s ability to say something meaningful over good music.

The 2008 Austin City Limit’s Music Festival introduced the world to some of the best local music coming out of Austin, Texas. Christopher Denny an Arkansas native and presently an Austin-based singer-songwriter crooner and backed by Austin’s Underground Township rocked the Austin Ventures stage. Furthermore Graham Wilkinson of the Underground Township released an excellent compilation of solo acoustic gems this month. Many organic grooves are coming out of Austin. Wayne Dalchau’s Township Records released several great albums in the last month, including Wilkinson’s new album and James Levy’s Blood Red Rose. Wayne is also working on a much anticipated Township Records compilation that will include Chris Denny, Graham Wilkinson, and other Township Records artists.

Burning Spear’s new album Jah Is Real flows smoothly and feels refreshingly natural and original. One can see the party and imagery that emerges from the single “Jam Cruise.” It is amazing that the Spear can drop tunes like this over four decades. Rather live or in the studio Burning Spear embodies roots reggae music.

Plus a mention of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and their phenomenal performance at Austin City Limits is needed here. The soulful group dropped funk and love on Austin, bringing the audience alive on a hot Saturday afternoon. Much dancing ensued and these soul players deserve their props. John Fogerty kicked ass and took names, playing “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

TOP 10!!! September 2008