Reviews > Shows
Tea Leaf Green, Rocks Off Concert Cruise, NYC – 7/12
Photo by Todd Roeth
If you’ve been to a Tea Leaf Green show recently, you may have gotten the faint feeling that among the funky jams and the dancing, you were in the midst of a celebration: a celebration of new life. Besides the fact that the band’s anatomy has physically changed—original bassist Ben Chambers left in 2007, the band switched management soon after and the decline of the music industry brought on by digital music swayed the band to split from its record label—it is obvious that on the stage and in the studio, Tea Leaf Green is not the same group it was when it built its original following in Northern California over a decade ago.
On this warm and breezy Monday night, Tea Leaf Green provided the perfect soundtrack to the anything-goes boat party that is a Rocks Off Concert Cruise. The band kicked off the show with the funky, jazz-infused “Let Us Go” as the boat pulled away from 41st street, revealing a killer view of Manhattan’s west side. While new addition to the group Reed Mathis pulled the crowd in from the outer decks with his infectious bass, Trevor Garrod (piano/vocals) got their bodies moving with his harmonica.
The band then transitioned into two songs from their new album, Looking West, “Dreaming Without Sleeping” and “Without a Broom.” Although newly recorded, the songs were smooth and familiar, long performed by the group before being nailed down on the album. During this show, it was obvious that Tea Leaf Green has matured; although the band definitely still jams, the band seems to be more focused on creative songwriting and meaningful lyrics led by Trevor Garrod’s laid-back, soulful voice rather than improv-oriented riffs headed by Josh Clark on the guitar.
With Scott Rager rounding out the ensemble on the drums, the group emitted an undeniably captivating stage presence and seemingly effortless communication with each other, even on the barley-there stage, where fans were practically dancing on the speakers. The high-energy “Rattlin,” also from the new album, played out as the funky high point of the first set, with the band’s personality and passion seeping from every chord and even the most uncoordinated fans attempting to synch with the swaying of the boat to bust a move.
The band then took a break, so as not to compete with Lady Liberty, and came back to deliver an energetic second set that alternated between songs from the new album and older tracks—with a little help from their friends, of course. “My Bastard Brother” brought forth Dave Brogan of Animal Liberation Orchestra, Jeremy Black of Apollo Sunshine and Steve Molitz of Particle to add to the already-outrageous chemistry and energy on packed stage. Also making appearances throughout the set were Steve Adams and Dan Lebowitz of ALO and Cochrane McMillin of Apollo Sunshine, who provided drum support.
A cast of characters full of personality that shined through their performance, the band delivered the upbeat, comical and almost-country “Living Honestly” with the help of Molitz on keys, Lebowitz on guitar, Black on the drum kit and Brogan on percussion.
As the boat pulled into the dock, the crowd kept moving, dancing to “Sex in the 70s.”. Drifting down the Hudson with the passionate and talented Tea Leaf Green, it was not hard to figure out why the band has managed to stay afloat all these years.
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