Show and Tell: Artists’ Favorite Live Shows (Part Three: Porter Jr. to Trucks)
Here is Part Three of our Show and Tell series in the 40th Anniversary issue of Relix. Below, you will find the likes of Bob Weir, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph and more discussing their favorite live show. Click here for Part One and here for Part Two.
George Porter Jr.
On Monday, Jan. 6th on Jam Cruise 12, I saw what I could only say was the best guitar playing that I have ever seen in my life. Grant you, I have played with this player once before in New Orleans at Tipitina’s, but had never seen him play solo. For one hour, Stanley Jordan stood on a stage and he played that guitar with both hands doing their own things like each hand had its own brain. At one point in a song, each hand took a solo at the same time like two players playing off each other. I was about to lose it. DAMN.
Growing up in Richmond, Va., on the East Coast, I could buy Relix at my Peaches record store down on West Broad Street. And it was always fun to look through the back and see if people had tapes they wanted to trade or really fun to look at the female Deadheads looking for touring companions. Because of that, the concert I’m gonna cite is the Grateful Dead at the Hampton Coliseum in May 1981, when me and a bunch of friends jumped in the band van, as it were, and ran down to Hampton. And it was at some point during the second set where a 15- or 16-year- old Dave Schools had this revelation that these 40-something-year-old men dressed in jeans and T-shirts, without the benefit of an amazing light show or ridiculously bombastic PA system, did something with their music that sent a ripple of revelation across 10,000 people. I can’t remember whether it was “The Other One,” or the version of “Let It Grow”— maybe even both of them. It just stunned me because the year was 1981, and I was a kid, and I was into Zeppelin and The Who, with the costumes and the smoke and all the trappings of the big stadium rock. I think I paid $6.50 for the ticket out of the box office on the day of the show. It blew my mind, and I was forever changed, and that’s when it became all about the music, and all that other stuff is just fun and games. And believe me, it is fun and games to dress up in costume and play with fire, but really, music’s the key.
For me, the most memorable show would have to be the recent Gregg Allman tribute in Atlanta. Everyone was on fire! Zac Brown, Eric Church, Jackson Browne and everyone was just jamming and Gregg Allman was jamming along. Someone was finally being honored while they are alive and they could be part of
the show. It was pretty damn good.
The String Cheese Incident
Michael Kang: Oneof the best live shows I have ever witnessed was the Paco De Lucìa Sextet at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1994 or ‘95. I remember wondering what it was gonna be like so I sat right up front next to Victor Wooten and Futureman and proceeded to have my mind blown. After every song, we were leaping out of our chairs to give them a standing ovation.
Michael Travis: I first saw Phish with 100 other people at the Eldo in Crested Butte, Colo., in December ‘89. Truly changed everything musically for me. I left there a different person.
Jason Hann: I saw the Butthole Surfers in the ‘80s at the Cameo Theatre in Miami. I was still in high school and had been to a bunch of shows at that point, mostly jazz and pop ones. This was the first show that turned my head inside out. Strobe lights running the entire time, the lead singer, Gibby [Haynes], sang through a bullhorn all night, two stand-up drummers pounding relentlessly, wall of sound guitars and bass, two topless go-go dancers in cages, and the movie screen in the background alternated between beautiful underwater images of Jacques Cousteau adventures and body carnage at car crash scenes. People started out wanting to just mosh pit as if they were at another punk show, but, by the end, the audience stood there, looking like zombies, with mouths open and drooling. Instead of applauding at the end, everyone walked out of there loving it, but in shock, contemplating life and the apocalypse. It was the desired effect. Badass.
Jack Black: Thom Yorke solo at the Bridge School Benefit in 2002. Hearing the Radiohead songs stripped-down to bare-bones acoustic and vocals was a revelation. He also played Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” on Neil’s piano. I was transported to a musical nirvana...or maybe it was the pot brownies.
Kyle Glass: The Upper Crust at Spaceland in LA. Great band out of Boston, rocking most rockingly.