When I checked ‘Grateful Dead Shows on This Day in History’ on archive.org today, I realized it is the 35th anniversary of what many Deadheads consider to be the band’s best show in their illustrious 30 year career. On May 8th, 1977 the band performed at Barton Hall on Cornell University‘s campus during a seasonably rare snow storm. It is at this very show that many people feel the Grateful Dead culminated their unique songwriting and improvisational rock style with that inexplicable magic that surrounds their live shows. Through a handful of well circulated, high quality bootlegs the band and this show secured a legacy that is still thriving to this day. You can read some accounts of those who were lucky enough to be present for this life altering experience here. Listen to the best version I found on the archives here. You can either stream or download this must hear show.
I had heard the band would be getting back together to perform at Coachella, but I was unaware that they were performing anymore dates than the two scheduled out in Indio for the festival. Apparently they performed last night in Austin as part of a three show Texas warm up for their festival dates here and abroad throughout the summer. It’s really hard to pick a favorite from their masterpiece album Relationship of Command, but I always really loved “Invalid Litter Dept.”. It’s not as aggressive as most of the rest of the album, but it’s just as heavy and dark as any other song, and definitely foreshadowed the direction The Mars Volta would take after the split up of At The Drive-In. It was definitely the missing link between the more punk driven sound of ATDI and the more progressive, Pink Floyd influenced sound singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez hoped to achieve with The Mars Volta. You can read and watch a synopsis of last night’s show here, courtesy of Consequence Of Sound.
To shift into something a little less cosmic, but still heavy on the synths and electronics, I want to feature an artist who put out another of my favorite albums of 2011. LA’s Pat Grossi goes by the name Active Child, and his debut full length album You Are All I See was a slice of heavenly ambient music blended with ethereal R&B influenced vocals. Active Child makes use of various 80′s styled analog synths, but layers them over much more updated electronic drumbeats that carry a distinct Hip-Hop flavor. The real ‘X-Factors’ at play are his uniquely engaging falsetto vocals and the harp, which he plays live in concert. The harp seems so out of place, but in fact I have featured this odd combination before in this post about Teebs. Watch “Hanging On” below to see how Active Child rocks it in this setting.
So, I’ve been absent for about two weeks now, and I really feel like I need to share this really well done collaboration that happened last Saturday night out in San Rafael, CA. The following concert was held at TRI Studios. TRI Studios is a state-of-the-art performance studio for broadcasting live HD video and audio streams directly to the Internet. The Bridge Session was presented by HeadCount. HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy in the United States. It is best known for registering voters at concerts.
In between sets of the musical performance, political figures and activists weighed in on topics such as getting money out of politics, protecting the First Amendment and the 2012 Presidential election. Panelists included independent Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, No Labels cofounder Mark McKinnon (a former media advisor to George W. Bush, John McCain, Bono and Lance Armstrong), climate change activist Jessy Tolkan, and Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cofounder John Perry Barlow.
More importantly to me is how the concert aimed to bridge the gap between Jam music and Indie Rock. Bob Weir was backed by an ensemble that included The National’s Scott and Bryan Devendorf and their bandmate Aaron Dessner, along with many longtime friends from Brooklyn’s vibrant independent music scene: Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett and Kyle Resnick, both frequent collaborators of The National, Walt Martin of The Walkmen, Conrad Doucette of Takka Takka, and Sam Cohen and Josh Kaufman of the Yellowbirds. Kaufman was also the event’s musical director.