– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#19)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
After a few weeks absence, I’m back with *3 shows* to hopefully make up for my lack of FAITU picks the past 2 weeks. So this week I’m sharing FAITU #17, #18 & #19, which are a run of shows in the U.S. Northeast from the fall 2002 tour (there was a 4th gig on that run as well, but it’s never circulated). There’s some repetition in song selection, considerable variance too, and just full-out incredible improvisation on display. Fall ’02 saw the opening improvisations stretching out more than ever before becoming a common tactic for starting a gig throughout the rest of MMW’s career. The tunes, mostly from The Dropper and Uninvisible albums (plus some other favourites), that are repeated see some interesting treatment, placement, and song segues – each gig offers something unique in this way in addition to each beginning with some hefty spontaneous composing … now to the replay tape …
** Thursday, September 26, 2002 ** >>> 2002-09-26
** Friday, September 27, 2002 ** >>> 2002-09-27
** Saturday, September 28, 2002 **
– SET I –
Billy starts us off with an open beat, then John ZAPS our brains harshly for a moment, letting it fizzle out then another zap, not so intense as the first, some sounds from outer space, then it seems a little while before Chris contributes with a simple two plunk pulse. Billy has moved to the kit by now with this broken shuffle. John is still in outer space. Chris starts adding more notes and colour to his line. Billy tries finding a beat, something to drive things a little more. Just after 3min it sounds like things are jiving into a more cohesive whole, then it stops briefly, Billy kicks in a quicker beat, and what was just happening in a darker space takes on a more positive vibe, still coloured with dark undertones – these last 3 nights have started with incredible exploration of some dark places. 5min and my head is boppin’, but shucking to the side with jabs and bleeps, after 30secs the groove digs deeper – like all 3 of them, you can hear, lay into it. @6:40 we seem to be heading away from groove, full-on oppressive keys, and then what’s this? Oh, @7:25 illyB comes in nice and light, John hits the Wurly, (I think?), and this has a nice comforting vibe coupled with some slightly unsettling sounds – is that Chris making that banging pipe sound? I think so … thumping, then it takes a bit more life before there he is in a deeper register, filling in the bottom. By 10min the pace has quickened as the piece that began just over 3min ago develops into a 2nd section. The band rides this out, just nailing it, pushing the groove further, to the point where it starts to splinter while still holding tight – damn, I love those moments! – there’s almost like a brief swing around 18min, just before the groove does pull apart and things get a wee wacky for a minute or so, swelling into a noise of sorts undercut with some gospel pulse, until we are enjoying a mighty fine …
Philly Cheese Blunt! Suddenly this seems like the culmination of the past 20min, leading us to this revelation, this gospel. Preach it to me!
The Dropper > Open Improv/Intro > Sequel is one of the most interesting sections of these three gigs. The explosion into open space out of a killer The Dropper leads *very* uniquely into a weird open intro into Sequel – so Sequel, instead of beginning in a high energy space, starts in a more subdued way. VERY cool. Then a heady Big Time closes out the set with some head boppin’.
– SET II –
2nd set begins with DJ RPM sitting in for a Ten Dollar High, which is fun but he’s not asked to stick around for the rest of the set …
Then Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho charges up the crowd and leads a run > Think > Drum Solo, followed by a jivin’ Blue Pepper – these are dance numbers, folks! Shake it! Things get a little sultry with a stellar Bemsha Swing/Lively Up Yourself medley – like, can you hear these tunes separately now, without hearing traces of the other? I can’t.
Then the set ends with an Uninvisible one-two punch in Pappy Check > the title track, featuring some cool playing getting us from the Check into Uninvisible territory to close the set.
And then a familiar encore … just before John slams in with his organ, we hear Billy say, “This one’s called ‘I Wanna Ride You!’” And we’re off …
These 3 gigs showcase nicely what the band can do with similar tunes, which they tend to focus on for a tour or stretch of time, and how playful and adventurous their approach can be. But we also see the advent of larger sections of Improvisation, a welcome development in their gigs … the band just gets tighter and more daring …
enjoy the grooves,
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD w/ DJ RPM
State Theatre, Portland, ME
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Set 1: Improv > Improv > Philly Cheese Blunt, The Dropper > Open Improv/Intro > Sequel, Big TimeSet 2: Ten Dollar High#, Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho > Think > Drum Solo, Blue Pepper, Bemsha Swing/Lively Up Yourself, Pappy Check > Uninvisible
Encore: Organ Intro > I Wanna Ride You*# w/ DJ RPM on turntables
* w/ acoustic outro
– SET I (tracks 1-6) –
– SET II (tracks 7-15) –