Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Back at the Bowery

it's been almost five years since this particular show. the zen tricksters at the bowery ballroom on april 20, 2001. it's not exactly the five-year anniversary yet, but following k's nicely nostalgic post about another great show that we had the fun of sharing, i thought, why not.

non-heads will probably find this post vaguely mystifying, at best. hey, it's self-indulgence.

and ego-stroking. i saw zt a few more times, and they were good each time. so when bob wasserman left ratdog, i had the bright idea of suggesting on the gdh-list that klyph black would make a great replacement. word got through to him somehow, and he v sweetly wrote in with thanks. unfortunately (or otherwise), weir got rob sylvester instead. and i moved to hk. anyway -- the original post, from the archives.


okay, here goes.

k and i reached first of all - actually k was so early she just about caught the encore of the previous night's show - and so we were head of the line waiting outside. three semi-drunk guys right behind us were fighting about the words to me and bobby mcgee. one of them kept hoping they'd play it, and another kept messing it up with me and my uncle. and before the gates opened this normal looking guy with a weird behavioral tic-like mannerism and two kids with long golden hair came and talked to the security about letting them in for a bit even though they were underage.

anyway, we got in first and went right to the balcony and the front most seat where i'd sat for dso. and guess what - the guy with kids lands up and sits right behind us. and starts making conversation about how zt are great. k makes the fatal mistake of asking him whether they're better than dso. oh boy. "these guys are the real thing. they make the music. why listen to the dso when i can just as easily buy a dxpx?" after the fourth time that he said this, i could notice k's smile becoming slightly strained.

anyway, he shifted the conversation to his kids. the elder one had been to his first show in 94. and when he asked the kid what he thought the opener would be, the kid said aiko aiko. this guy scoffed and said, come on! an acoustic aiko aiko?!

and then he introduces himself - hi, my name is rick. my name is ________. he tried that. k. uh, pleased to meet you. and then he says that after the first song he'll go to drop his kids home - "they're not as old as they look" and so could i save his table. i said ok.

and then the show started. guess what the opener was?! like k said (almost four times) she thought it's in the kid's blood.

setlist -

1. Aiko Aiko (!)
2. zt song
3. The race is on
4. Dire wolf
5. zt ("with super jam" - actually, most of the jams ended up being
6. zt (with woman backing vocals)
Now they call in 3 others - folks from Hot Tuna etc., slide, harp...
7. Big railroad blues
8. zt ("Down the road"?)
Back to basic ZT line-up
10. BOX OF RAIN!!!
11, 12 & 13. zt tunes

Special word for the bassist Klyph. Although he tired as the evening progressed, fading a bit in the third set, he was at his *peak* here. playing bass as well as singing. Hugely talented guy. But he did a Bobby on Box of rain, flubbing the last line of verse 1, singing the last line of verse 2 instead. Amusing interplay between the other guys on stage when that happened.

1. zt song > Jam > Music never stopped
2. zt ("Sacrifice?) > (Phish tune?)
3. Eyes (AWESOME!) > zt ("Going down slow"?) > Space > Scarlet > Fire

What a way to end the set. The Eyes was incredible - slow and intense almost hypnotic, and the space was very interesting because thy never let it become totally discordant, and then at the end of space they played a couple of chords of china cat, and the crowd went crazy, and the guy steps up and starts out with "I was walking down Grosvenor Square"...! Amazing- I was caught totally off guard. Anyway, the scarlet was slow, and they emphasized the basic bouncy rhythm over and over again, and kept coming back to it, and then made the transition to fire again slowly, coming back to scarlet a few times before finally going full fledged into fire, and i don't know how it happened - never realised it - but suddenly i found that it wasn't so slow after all, and they built it and built it to a perfectly controlled climax. it wasn't wild, it wasn't crazy, it was deliberate, methodical insanity.

And that was the second set. Like I said to k when it finished, they nailed it. Unfortunately that was when k decided to leave, because it was already 1:30 in the morning and we'd just been through what would have been a perfectly reasonable show all by itself. However I had this feeling that the third set would be the best. The acoustic set was incredible, and the second set had had its points, but an overdose of the drummer singing on ZT originals had kind of dampened it for me - I knew that these guys still had stops to pull out.

The third set began after about another 20 minutes. The crowd had thinned considerably, so a comfortably full venue was now very "intimate", to say the least. Only about 200 or so people left, and *lots* of room to spin. Very fortunate, as it turned out.

1. ZT ("Traveling light"?) > Let's spend the night together (!!!)
2. ZT (funky song) > Unbroken chain (!!!)
3. ALLIGATOR!!!! > Drumz > ALLIGATOR JAM!!!!!!!! > ZT ("Coming back to

No encore, 3 a.m. ran out of time.

As you can see from the exclamation marks - the let's spend the night together was lovely. I never imagined one could de-Jagger that song, maintain its punch, and dead-ify it all at one go. They did. The unbroken chain was divine. Klyph pulled no punches on this one, and the whole band was jamming like The Grateful Dead Machine. It was like they had electrodes plugged into me. And then they started Alligator, and sounded *just* like Pig, and did a wonderful job while at it. It was one song I would *not* have expected and they played it marvellously. And then the Drumz maintained the momentum plus it wasn't too long or exploratory, and then! They brought back the Alligator, did some kind of highly understated rap from about 6 inches from the mikes saying a lot of things you could only half hear while the band was jamming to bursting under them, and THEN! finally! the lead guitar BURST forth with all the violence and vehemence of a 1968 jerry - the passion and fire of the smr too or the live dead dark star just poured forth from this man it was a wall of searing sound tearing into my brain and consciousness throwing me around and up and off the walls and into gravity defying spins in midair i had NEVER thought i would hear that sound live. ohhh, MAN.

I have no clue what they played or how. fifteen minutes later sitting at the subway station i couldn't remember what these guys had been rapping or what notes that guitar had been playing. i just know he blew me away. and that, on two beers for the night.

maybe i just was short of sleep? i don't know.

anyway, after it ended, rick told me i'm a beautiful person. he checked me out, and i was really getting it, and it's all about love, and i'm a beautiful person. then he asked about my "girlfriend - where is she?". i said - she's not my girlfriend, she's someone else's wife. took him back for a sec. and then he looked past me at the three women sitting at the first table and said, now who are those tomatoes - let me see if i can get some pickings.

maybe i get to see him again sometime, somewhere.

and finally, k, here's a poem i wrote for you during the drumz -

Why smoke grass?
She said
I get it anyway.
I thought
It's the difference
between seeing two dimensions
And three
Dark Star
was not made
for closed spaces
But I didn't say it
It's her Dark Star.



Blogger wildflower seed said...


"then he looked past me at the three women sitting at the first table and said, now who are those tomatoes - let me see if i can get some pickings."


3/26/2006 2:29 AM  
Blogger gIftoFwIngs said...

nice review n nice poem!
And the tomatoes part..hahaha:)

3/26/2006 4:23 AM  
Blogger kundalini said...

i remember this one really well. thanks for posting.

yes, its my dark star :):)

3/26/2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

yes indeed. wywt.

thanks :-) and thanks for stopping by.

... and you cry if you want to?

3/26/2006 10:48 AM  

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