Tag: Aaron’s Amphiteater

Phish Drop Bombs and Blow Minds in Atlanta

Phish  – Aaron’s Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA – 8/25/12

Words/Photos by Jakob Ross

Phish Drop Bombs and Blow Minds in Atlanta

The last time I was truly blown away by a band was when I saw Phish for the first time at Bonnaroo. They played what Reverend Justito refers to as a “greatest hits set”, playing songs like Down With Disease, Sample In a Jar, Cavern, and Tweezer. While that set was great for a beginner such as myself, some hardcore phans probably wouldn’t give it such high praise. Keeping that in mind, I stepped into Aaron’s Amphitheatre for the third time this year expecting something awesome. Two sets full of some popular tunes, some rarities, some covers, and something hopefully better than the Bonnaroo set. And that is exactly what I got.

According to the Aaron’s Amphitheatre Facebook page, the 1st set was scheduled to kick off at 7, giving us something like two 95-100 minute sets, with enough time for a 30-minute set break and a 10-minute encore. Well, apparently that changed because the 1st set didn’t start until 7:45, giving us two 75-minute sets instead.

We left our house a few minutes before 3:00, with an expected arrival time of about 5:00 or so (the gates opened at 6:00). Finding a spot to park was a nightmare; one parking lot was already full of cars and vans and tents, so we had to head into a lot on the other side of the amphitheatre, which was right adjacent to a different entrance than the one we’ve used in the past. Despite all that, we still managed to be the first people in line at the gate and found the perfect spot on the lawn that was both close and free from any obstructions of view.

After an unexpected 45 minute wait and with the sun setting to my left, the mighty phoursome graced the stage and welcomed the 20,000-strong sold out Atlanta crowd with a neat instrumental tune called Cars Trucks Buses from their 1996 album Billy Breathes. After a round of applause they dove headfirst right into Wolfman’s Brother, a song I’d hoped to hear at Bonnaroo but didn’t. It’s one of my favorites from Hoist so I’m very glad I got to hear it. Afterwards they played Runaway Jim, which I’m pretty sure is just about a dog that ran away, ran-away ran-away.

After Jim, they played Ya Mar, which is a song by Cyril Ferguson, for only the third time this year. Early on, I could tell this set would focus more on Trey and Page’s skills, as both were playing some amazing solos, while Mike and Fishman’s spotlight would wait until Set 2. After Ya Mar, I got my first repeat ever, Alaska. While this was played towards the end of Set 2 at Bonnaroo, it appeared halfway through Set 1 here, where I feel it worked better. The jam for Alaska was absolutely brilliant, probably the first of many amazing jams of the whole show. After Alaska came another cover, My Soul, originally by Clifton Chenier. This was one I’d never heard before, but it sounded great. So far everything was sounding amazing. All the songs felt like they belonged in this set, which was certainly more of a straight rock and roll set. There were plenty of great jams, but one song didn’t jam into another. And that’s fine with me, I was having an amazing time.

After My Soul, the sun had gone almost all the way down. Darkness poured down on the lawn dwellers of Aaron’s Amphitheatre and marijuana smoke pervaded the air all around me. And then what would be one of my favorite parts of Set 1 happened, Trey hit the first couple notes of the ever so famous Wilson riff and every person shouted “WIIIIIILSOOOON” up to the stars. Another Bonnaroo repeat, but I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing this one live. The dudes played with the intensity and the ferocity of rock and roll gods as they sang about Wilson, the King of Prussia.

After Wilson came Maze, a song from one of the jammiest studio albums ever composed: Rift. Maze is full of great lyrics, I’ve discovered and I love the chorus. Sometimes it’s not just the jams and solos that make Phish great; they can also be great songwriters, even when the lyrics don’t make sense. After Maze, came the final cover of Set 1, a song I’ve wanted to hear live for a long time: Roses Are Free by Ween (RIP). The brothers Ween may have stopped making music together, but their best music lives on vicariously through bands like Phish, who, thankfully, brought out this cover of one of Ween’s best songs during the set. This show was already better than Bonnaroo, and the first set wasn’t even over yet. Next I got two more Bonnaroo repeats, Backwards Down the Number Line and Character Zero. Backwards is a pretty good song, but I could’ve done without it, and Character Zero was a great way to end a set. At 9:00 PM exactly, the boys left the stage for the 30-minute set break.

During the break, I learned that going to the bathroom after Phish have gone on stage is a bad bad idea, so I kept my liquid intake to a minimum, only taking a few sips of Coke when I got really really thirsty.

At 9:30 as I was making my way back to our spot, the lights went down and Phish came back on for Kill Devil Falls, another Joy cut I could have done without, yet not a horrible way to kick off the set. Kill Devil Falls flowed smoothly and directly into Golden Age, another one of their better cover songs. It was during Golden Age that Mike’s bass playing really sounded amazing, as it did for the duration of the second set. Golden Age  in turn flowed directly into Free and for the whole second set it didn’t feel like the band stopped at all. Just one continuous 75-minute medley of songs interspersed with slow, psychedelic jams that climaxed into exploding energy all accompanied by beautiful lights. Phish have once again proved themselves as one of the best live bands ever, and the show wasn’t even over yet.

After Free came Light,—kinda funny to hear the words “and the light is growing brighter now” as it was getting darker and darker outside—which led into Wading in the Velvet Sea which felt like it could’ve been a power-ballad from the 70s, even though it is a Phish original. After Velvet Sea came the opening riff to Chalkdust Torture, another favorite I never tire of hearing. Although I initially felt like it would’ve done better in the first set, for some reason, it just felt right exactly where it was. Chalk Dust Torture was another example of a jam where it was quiet and chill but eventually built up into an awesome crescendo, but then went right back to being quiet, almost as if Phish were dropping bombs of music on our heads and we were more than happy with the mushroom-shaped cloud that resulted. Chalkdust jammed, unfinished, right on into What’s The Use, a rarity from The Siket Disc that they haven’t played since June 8, 2011. What’s The Use jammed relaxedly into Joy, a great, albeit overplayed, ballad from their most recent studio effort.

Joy jammed for a little while until there were only 5 minutes left in Set 2 (I figured since the set started at 9:30 then it would conclude at 10:45; I was right), so Phish threw an amazingly heavy, energetic, and explosive rendition of Run Like An Antelope to finish up a whirlpool of amazingness that was almost overwhelming. Set 2 was a vicious cycle of emotion, energy, and relaxation that boded well for this writer. Phish left the stage again for the encore break, and came back a couple minutes later, where keyboardist/pianist Page McConnell thanked us and told us how much they love playing Aaron’s Amphitheatre. The show may have been close to over, but they still had enough time to drop one more bomb on our heads, and this one was an atomic bomb: A fantastic cover of The Beatles’ A Day in the Life. Page sang John Lennon’s part (“I read the news today, oh boy”) and Trey sang Paul McCartney’s part (“Woke up, got outta bed”). Hearing one of my favorite live bands perform one of my favorite Beatles songs was an amazing experience and a great way to end the show.

A Day in the Life ended without any cool extended jams, but the show itself was all kinds of amazing. I had an amazing time, and there is no better way to kick off our last week of American residency than with an amazing live show. Thank you Phish, thank you Atlanta, and thank you America.

Jason Mraz Invites Atlanta to Keep Calm and Wear Fedoras

Jason Mraz – 8/18/12 – Aaron’s Amphitheatre, Atlanta

Words by Jakob Ross

“Tour Is a Four Letter Word”

Jason Mraz Invites Atlanta to Keep Calm and Wear Fedoras

Pop music comes and goes. Some songs stand the test of time, others go away after a few months or, in some cases, after a few weeks. That’s just the way it goes in the crazy business of music. One of the most popular songs of the past decade or so is 2008’s “I’m Yours,” which you can still hear on the radio and in your local Starbucks today. This song skyrocketed Jason Mraz to mega-fame, and, as I observed last night while viewing the 15,000-member audience, that fame has yet to subside. Even after the release of this year’s less-than-amazing album “Love Is a Four Letter Word.”  A couple weeks ago, Mraz began his North American “Tour Is a Four Letter Word” with fellow singer/songwriter Christina Perri, who you may know was the girl who sings that song that makes you want to punch puppies every time you hear it.

Anyway, after multiple setlist checks, my mom (the biggest Jason Mraz fan in the family) decided what songs she wanted to hear, which ones she didn’t care about, and ultimately we decided we’d leave after the aforementioned “I’m Yours,” which is the last song before the encore break. This show would also serve as way for me and my dad to check out the lawn and get a feel for where we would try and be when we see Phish this Saturday.

We got to our spot and laid down a blanket to relax on about halfway through Christina Perri’s set. Don’t get me wrong, the girl can sing very well, but her music does absolutely nothing for me. All the songs sounded the same, but I only had to sit through about 25 minutes of it.

At about 8:45, his scheduled appearance time, he hit the stage and shifted from an ominous instrumental intro into “Remedy,” a song that I had heard before, but had absolutely no idea was a Jason Mraz song. From our spot on the lawn, we could see everything. The view was spectacular and we didn’t have to actually stand up until the end of the set.

After “Remedy,” he played “Living In the Moment,” a new song. As mediocre as his new album is, a lot of the songs translated really well in a live setting, and made them seem a lot better than they really are. Then he played “a song I wrote while on a plane”: the aptly titled “Plane.” That song had some pretty—I hate using this word—epic moments that really demonstrated Mraz’s vocal skills. Next he played “Be Honest,” a duet that featured the violinist of his band sharing vocal duties with Mraz.

He then played a couple tracks from his most popular album “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.”: “Only Human” and “Lucky,” the latter of which also featured his violinist on vocals, singing the parts that Colbie Caillat sings on the album. He played a few more new songs afterwards, but the highlight of the show was definitely the last four songs of the set. The 13th song of the set was a bonus track from the new album entitled “You Fckn Did It,” a song he performs with his female hispanic percussionist whose name ISN’T Sheila E. Knowing his audience well, he warns the audience beforehand that the song they were about to play featured “a certain short word” that some parents wouldn’t like their kids hearing. “If you don’t want your children to hear this certain word, then I heard a rumor that the Fresh Beat Band are playing in the lobby,” Mraz joked. After him and his percussionist (“The Duo Decimal System,” they called themselves) performed the song, he invited the rest of his band back up to sing another bonus track, entitled “I’m Coming Over,” in which the whole band including Mraz stood as a group in one area of the stage and sang the mellow track.

Afterwards, everyone took their respective spots at their instruments and performed the most energetic song of the night “Butterfly,” which flowed nicely into a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” If you know anything about that song, then you know that the chorus is “Signed, sealed, delivered/I’m yours,” which is either a coincidence or a subtle way of letting his audience know what the next song would be. As soon as the all-too-familiar hammer-on guitar riff hit the ears of the thousands of audience members, we all knew what was coming. Everyone in the lawn stood up and prepared for a massive sing-a-long, because, let’s face it, everyone knows the words to the song.

After the song ended, Mraz left the stage for the encore break, and we left the venue to head home. I heard all I needed to hear, as did my parents and sister. Let’s face it, Jason Mraz has some pretty bad songs, but hearing them performed live actually made some of them listenable and even enjoyable. Overall, not a terrible concert experience. He puts on a good performance and sounds very good live. The sound this time was way better than it was last time I went to Aaron’s Amphitheatre, so not too many complaints from this writer. If you like relaxing music and fedoras, then you might enjoy yourself a Jason Mraz concert (yes, he did wear a fedora). But now I have to spend the next week preparing myself for my second round of Phish, which you’ll hear all about next week.

311 Bring Unity to Atlanta With a Little Help From Their Friends

311 Bring Unity to Atlanta With a Little Help From Their Friends

One band that I’ve been interested in seeing for a couple years now is 311. And I finally got that chance when I purchased tickets to this show with my own money. I’m fairly positive that this is the sixth installment of 311’s Unity Tour, although I could be wrong. I know that last year’s Unity Tour featured Sublime w/ Rome And Lambert which I missed because we were out of town for that one. But last night I was able to catch not only 311, but also Slightly Stoopid and the supremely underrated LA group The Aggrolites, whom I saw open for Social Distortion last year.

This show took place on July 21st 2012 at Aaron’s Amphitheater in Atlanta, which is a venue I’d never been to before. Located right next to a high school (not even kidding) the entrance to the venue appears without much warning and the venue itself is just sort of…. there. But parking was free and easy, it wasn’t too crowded; so far a great concert experience compared to some I’ve been to.

The doors opened at 5:30 which, conveniently enough, is the exact time we got there. We walked in and got barely frisked by the guards and procured our pit bracelets. The Aggrolites were set to play from 6:30 to 7 and we had a little bit of time to kill, during which we bought our merch and made our way to the pit to check everything out.

The pit area was small and really the whole amphitheater itself was pretty small compared to some that I’ve been to in Washington. The lawn towards the back was huge, but there were maybe a couple hundred seats and maybe a 100-200 capacity pit at the most. Fortunately, the weather was nice—although Atlanta in July isn’t exactly cold weather—for some good vibes and other reggae-based cliches.

As expected, The Aggrolites graced the stage at 6:30 sharp and opened up their set with “Free Time.” They had great energy for an opening band. Their sound isn’t exactly built for an amphitheater setting, but they certainly made it work, encouraging sing-a-longs the likes of which I’ve never seen from an opening band. They finished off their 30 minute set with a great cover of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” during which they invited everyone to sing along to the chorus, which they did. The band sounded great, as always, and were a great warmup act for the bands we all wanted to see.

About 20 minutes after The Aggrolites’ set ended, Slightly Stoopid and all its 8 members hit the stage for an instrumental intro followed by “Till It Gets Wet.” Singers Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald traded instruments a couple times throughout the set, one usually taking bass while the other sings and plays guitar, depending on the song. They played a few of their hits like “Anywhere I Go” and “Closer To the Sun,” as well as a few songs from their upcoming album Top Of The World. They even threw in their cover of “Leaving On a Jet Plane” as well as a cover of “Express Yourself” (the Charles Wright song, not the NWA song) to end the set. I also noted how during one of the horn solos I could hear a tease of the “riff” from “Yeah” by Ludacris, which you have to play if you’re in Atlanta.

Slightly Stoopid played a very impressive set. It was about an hour long and ridiculously chill. After a 30 minute wait, the lights went down (it was pitch black in the pit) and the men of 311 hit the stage. Nick started playing what I could only assume was the intro to “Down,” because that was the first song of the set, but no sound was coming out of his guitar, nor was any coming out of Tim’s guitar. SA began rapping his verse of the song and not much sound was coming out of his mic either. Really the only elements of the show that sounded good were Nick’s mic, the bass, and the drums. Everything else was not nearly loud enough. And that didn’t really improve at all during the rest of the show.

They then broke into “Large In the Margin” from their Soundsystem album. And then, as the sun set, they played the very appropriate “Sunset In July” from last year’s stellar Universal Pulse album. 311’s setlist is ever-changing, with a revolving door of at least 40 songs that they choose from for each show of the Unity Tour. During one of their songs (I wanna say it was “From Chaos”, but that’s just a guess) drummer Chad Sexton went into an awesome drum solo, during which a few mini drum kits, two gongs, and a bass drum were rolled onto the stage for the rest of the band members to jam on. After Chad’s solo ended, all 5 members went into a drumline-esque performance, eventually going back into the chorus of the song they were playing.

311 played pretty equally from all their albums, even throwing in a cover of “Leaving Babylon” by Bad Brains. After they performed “Amber,” P-Nut broke into his highly anticipated bass solo. P-Nut is an astounding bass player and did a really cool slapping thing, but compared to greats like Les Claypool and Flea, he’s not the greatest.

They ended their set with “Beautiful Disaster,” which actually was the best sounding song of the night in terms of sound coming out of the instruments. They came out for an encore of “Outside,” “Hydroponic,” and “Creatures (For a While)” before leaving the stage and barely making their 10:30 end time. 311 played an impressively great show that was way better than I was expecting. It was a great concert experience too, with no moshing that I could see and no crowd-surfing whatsoever. That might be a general rule for the venue, but perhaps people decided to not suck for once.

After the show, I came to the conclusion that 311 are just like Phish. 311 have had more mainstream success, but probably not enough to keep them an amphitheater band for so many years. They have a huge cult following and don’t need praise from critics to keep them a happy and fully functional unit. And I saw a guy with a shirt after the show that said “311 Is My Religion.” I think that’s all you need to know to really understand how big this band is, regardless of lyrical quality or poor sound mixing. And that’s all that matters.

SETLIST: Down, Large In The Margin, Sunset In July, Purpose, You Wouldn’t Believe, Freeze Time, Lose, Who’s Got The Herb?, From Chaos, Applied Science, Flowing, Rock On, India Ink, Amber, Bass Solo, Nutsymtom, Rub A Dub, Crack The Code, Leaving Babylon, Jackpot, Beautiful Disaster ENCORE: Outside, Hydroponic, Creatures (For A While)

© 2019 Concert Confessions

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑