Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Open Up The Freaks Ball In Style [Review/Gallery]

first_imgLast night, March 24th, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead hit the stage for the start of the three night Freaks Ball, celebrating the web denizens of the NYC Freaks List. The completely sold out Brooklyn Bowl welcomed their hometown heroes with excitement and anticipation, and Almost Dead wasted no time getting into it.The opening jam had the whole band keenly listening and responding to each other. Each member has their own voice up there- Scott Metzger has a deep tone with a bit of twang; Tommy Hamilton’s guitar provides an elegant counterpoint with lighter notes a bit higher in register. Marco Benevento bolsters the music with some spry keyboard playing, dancing on top of the rhythm section. Dave Dreiwitz, playing his first shows with Almost Dead since the Ween reunion gigs held down the bass with a steady groove that never stopped- the notes were always next to each other instead of on top of each other. And holding it all down is Joe Russo on the drums, making more music with four limbs than any human being has a right to.Almost Dead jams have an element where you think you’re hearing something- you think you can tell where they’re going. Sometimes you may be right, sometimes you may be wrong, and sometimes they’re intentionally messing with you. After about ten minutes of a jam that had the whole Bowl moving, you knew where this jam was going- “Not Fade Away!”Nope. Such was the fake out that half the Bowl started singing, but the band took a left turn and dove into the “Reuben &Cherise,” that at no point slowed down to let the building energy dwindle. At one point of the jam leading out of the song all five of the members had their eyes closed, fully locked in with each other.Watch a pro-shot “Reuben & Cherise” below, courtesy of LazyLightning55a:Twenty-five minutes after they began, they eased their way into “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” for the evening’s first sing-a-long. This eventually led to “Hell In A Bucket,” which contained a jam that got real dirty- the song structure was abandoned as the band again showed that they each play their instruments reacting to each other instead of on autopilot. Benevento laid down a plinking foundation that each person added a layer to. That jam dropped perfectly into “Shakedown Street.” It speaks to the intensity of the set when the shortest song of the set is one of the more historically jammed out songs in the Dead’s catalog. The outro jam got both spacey and spooky. And then those hints of familiarity appeared. It was one of those, “Hey, I think I know this,” moments which turned into, “Yeah, I know this, but they aren’t playing it,” moments which turned into, “They’re playing Liz Reed!”Based on the facial expressions on stage, the band was thinking the same thing. The moment felt spontaneous, and had a feeling of five friends on stage having fun and taking chances. Benevento nailed the organ solo that Gregg Allman made iconic on At the Fillmore East. Hamilton and Metzger both shredded, Dreiwitz thundered away on bass, and Joe Russo once again played the role of two drummers at the same time. After “Liz Reed” the set ended with an emotional rendition of “Mission in the Rain.” Hamilton emotes great passion in both his playing and singing on Garcia ballads, and that was in fine form this night.After a brief setbreak (seriously- under 30 minutes!), the band returned to the stage. The jam started off real slinky, letting the anticipation of the first song of the set build. The beat started shuffling and they went into “Truckin’,” which is a great way to start a set. This set had a lot of sing-a-long moments which kept the crowd rapt. During the jams Marco provided a funky groove while Metzger had a rocking solo with some country twang in it. The jam at the end slowed down for an a cappella ending that exploded into a final refrain for everyone to get back truckin’ on. “Bertha” then came up and just rocked- great vocals from Hamilton and two monster solos from Metzger.Then came the biggest surprise of the night, with Almost Dead debuting a cover of “I’m Writing a Novel” by Father John Misty, with Joe Russo on lead vocals. Those who knew the song were really excited, and the band nailed it. After a version that was both faithful and jammed, they patiently worked their way into “The Eleven.” It kept building and building until hitting its massive peak, but then they took somewhat of a left turn and finished the song (including vocals) in a very delicate and intricate manner, letting the nuances of the melody come through.This led to the set closing “Mississippi Half Step,” which again had everyone singing along at full tilt. The music was exploding off the stage and the crowd returned it back. Crossing that lazy river was a perfect coda to the set. The lone but thumping encore of “Not Fade Away “(for real this time) had the band leaving the stage, clapping out that familiar beat, and setting incredibly high expectations for the next two nights.Welcome back to the Bowl Almost Dead. Your music may belong to the world, but there’s nothing like being home.Images from the show provided by Scott Harris Photo. Check out the gallery below, as well as a full setlist with notes from Peter Costello [via Almost Dead’s Facebook Page].Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY – 3/24/16Set 1 8:43PM – 10:01PMJam ->Not Fade Away Jam @ ->Ruben & Cherise (TH) ->GDTRFB # (ALL) ->Hell In A Bucket (SM) ->Shakedown Street (TH) ->Space ->In Memory of Elizabeth Reed $Mission In The Rain (TH)Set 2 10:24PM – 11:43PM ishJam ->Truckin’ (SM) ->Born Cross-Eyed Jam >Bertha (TH) ->I’m Writing A Novel % (JR) >The Eleven (TH/JR) ->Mississippi Half Step (TH)E: Not Fade Away ^ (ALL)@ – First Time Played, no lyrics# – With an unknown tease (MB) & without the “WBYGN” ending, Segued directly into Bucket$ – First Time Played, Allman Brothers Band Cover. Bustle in Your Hedgerow covered it during the “Bustle Plays Other Shit” show on 2013-08-31% – First Time Played, Father John Misty Cover^ – With a “I’m Writing A Novel” (Father John Misty) tease (TH) and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson on turntables. Not Fade Away ended traditionally with the crowd clapping the beat & singing lyrics back to the band as they walked off stage. Then ?uestlove joined in, starting his DJ set by scratching the Not Fade Away beat on the turntables, in time with the crowd clapping & singing. Load remaining imageslast_img

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