I was lucky enogh to be front row stylin for the best ratdog show I've seen.
Big Railroad Blues--Nice pick by Bobby, more mellow then the usual first set ender but great way to start.
Watchtower--Nice flow, brokedown to a semi reggae vibe. Experimental and cool.
Dark Star Jam--No explanation necessary.
Lil Red Rooster--Mark and Bobby had a field day with this one. Dirty and raw as the energy built from here.
Golden Road--Tight and hot, Robin dropped some nice bombs.
Dark Star--Kang was cool on this, as it was the start of the Dog Incident night, as Bobby called it.
She Says--Nice jam and no slowin down.
Foolish Heart--I liked this choice for the first set closer. Karan kept it flowin.
Masterpiece--Bobby was into it. Some nice yelps towards the end.
Corrina--HOT! Nice way to get the set going. Kenny was on along with everyone else.
Silvio--Highlight for me; first time I've seen it and was impressed. Kenny poppin veins as he was all over Tequila.
West LA Fadeaway--Keyboards were cool, and a funky ending. It was a perfect transistion out of Silvio.
Iko Iko--Unreal, Everybody JAM :) Have to hear the CD for yourself. Jay had some fun.
Stuff--A drummer duel; Travis, Hann, and Jay rippin it up, with Kang's help.
Come Together--Came out of nowhere for me. Nice spot for it; Bobby was into it.
Dark Star--Finishing up the theme for the night, thought they were going into Truckin.
Sugar Mag--WOW! Have to hear it to believe it. Bobby screws up the first verse, and it's makeup time after that. Unreal jam into SSDD.
Ripple--Put a smile on everyone's face; SCI was involved.
One More Satyrday Night--Typical, but a nice way to end an awesome night
Had a BLAST! Killer show.
Jon King, Nashua, NH
Very well done! Great selection of songs played with conviction. Cheese-Dog at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield was a wonderful, music-filled night, from Bobby coming out to play "Lovelight" with Cheese right down to the the Ripple encore of RatDog. Check out the setlist you'll know what I mean... choice songs done well! Bobby & the boys were at the top of their game last night. Thank you!
Keith, Grafton, MA
WOW! I've seen Bobby and the boys about six times in the last couple of years and this show blew all the others I've seen away!! Great songs choices, and Cheese added some great color to all the songs they guested on. They really helped to fill out the sound--great musicians. Bobby's voice was great, especially opening the second sent with Masterpiece and Corrina - SICK!!! Foolish Heart was great to close the first set too - never heard that one before! Bobby always sounds great in Boston - hope he comes back real soon!!!
Sunny, Worcester, MA
I went last night, the final night of the combined tour, to the show at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. Not a very well attended show with only about 6-7 thousand attending. That was nice in that there were fewer jerks to contend with in the seats, and much more room to move about and spread out. My seat was about 7 rows back from the stage on the right side so I had a narrow but good view of the performers, and the sound was excellent.
SCI opened the show with a wonderful almost acoustic bluegrass set. Panama Red/Salt Creek instrumental/Dim Lights, Thick Smoke set the tone. Reminded me of the NRPS opening for the Grateful Dead way back when. All that was missing was a good dose of pedal steel guitar. This set was excellent and I wish they had done both sets bluegrass-style. Of course they came out in the second set and ran full electric and hit hard on heavy jamming. This was also fun, but I do like the bluegrass/country.
The audience turned up a notch when Bobby came out in the first set and they did wonderful versions of KC Moan and Dark Hollow, first set closers. Second set electric closings with Mark Karan and then Bobby for a rousing Turn On Your Lovelight set the stage for the RatDog music to come. During the latter part of the SCI second set, Mark Karan was watching and definitely grooving and singing along to the tunes from the side stage, then came out fired to play when his turn came. This looked scheduled, but the way the crew was quickly setting up a cord and mic for Bobby just before Lovelight made me wonder if this was a spur of the moment decision; if it was, it worked.
Then came RatDog's turn to play. During SCI's set, mention was made that since this show was the last together, the groups planned to mix it up a bit, and so they did. RatDog came on strong with a bluegrass/electric Big Railroad Blues to open the show into an interesting rock/reggae All Along The Watchtower, then went into the first of several Dark Star segues. This pattern would last through the night, weaving in and out of Dark Star. Michael Kang spent most of the evening on stage with RatDog, playing mostly mandolin, but starting out in a section of Dark Star spacing out with his violin. Very interesting.
Second set, RatDog began with Bobby acoustic as has been the norm in recent shows but quickly turned the heat on with a very well played Corrina. Then the fun really started! As Silvio was starting, more members of SCI wandered on to the stage to play. The Tequila between Silvio verses was a big plus and really brought the already attentive audience more into the mix. At one point during Tequila, a very trim bikini-topped young lady from on stage climbed up on a large equipment box next to the on-stage sound board and did a wonderful job as go-go-dancer. This scene was priceless, as the reactions of the band to the dancing was hilarious. BIG looks of surprise and WIDE GRINS from all, except Bobby, who was the last to notice, but when he did, what an expression of enjoyment [and perplexedness since I think maybe he thought he was losing control of the show]. This led into a hard version of West LA Fadeaway/Iko that had all members of both bands involved. Was fun to see the laughing on all the players' faces. Just imagine how easy it is to have two drummers using one kit at the same time. And the glee in Jeff Chimenti's eyes during the entire show I think summed up the entire RATDOG reaction to the evening. And also Dennis McNally was pacing around both sides of the stage watching the audience and singing and keeping time to the music. I know he has seen his share of shows over the years, but I think he enjoyed his time as well.
Yes, and Bobby being Bobby, he almost made it through the entire show without forgetting the words to a song, but no, this was not to be. Sugar Mag was the tune he forgets, after all these years and a TelePrompTer. Oh well. The rest of the band played through and rocked the house. Did I say that the sound quality was excellent throughout the show [at least where I was standing], and I think the rest of the audience thought so because whenever I looked back to the upper seats and lawn, people there were definitely getting into the music. For those of you who need to have your dose of BOBBY SPIT, he certainly did not disappoint this night.
The encores featured both bands still, in Ripple with Michael Kang back on violin, then back to mandolin for One More Saturday Night. I would like to see many more Saturdays night's like this one. After the encore, both bands plus all the crew came out to take a bow and say good night and good bye to the audience and to themselves since the two bands are going their separate ways for the rest of the summer. If I hand a chance to see again one of these combined shows, I would definitely try to go to the final one. I think that band interaction onstage adds much to the entire atmosphere, and fun for the players translates into more fun for the audience.
Doug Scott, Eastham Cape Cod, MA
Overall, just an okay show. I think it might be time for a line up change for the band. I found Mark Karan's solos to be boring. His solos are unmoving and don't really add value to the songs. I have seen Ratdog and the Grateful Dead many times in my life, and I feel this show was mostly a nostalgia act. I am not sure if the band was just tired from being on the road. I feel that Bobby just keeps getting better and he needs a band and a lead guitar player that can do the same. I am all done with Ratdog until I see some sort of life come back into the band. Bummed.
brnprn50, Boston, MA
I wasn't too blown away, but I thought the Masterpiece was excellent. Bobby should not solo (Red Rooster) and should not be the band's center of attention. He needs a guitarist with a serious stage presence - one who makes your jaw hurt from dropping. Karan's good, but he doesn't have "it." After seeing Phil 4 times in the past few weeks, I was disappointed with the lack of energy.
Rod, Boston, MA
This show was among the very best Ratdog I have ever seen, and I have seen alot over the past few years. Bob did an amazing job and the band sounded better than ever. I was once again very impressed. Great song selection and great execution all around. Golden Road was amazing!! It really ripped. Some folks criticized the show and were "bummed." They must have been the only ones because everyone I saw in the entire venue was grooving and enjoying themselves. It was a high energy show with a great sound. Looking forward to Ridgefield. Take it easy....
Sean M, Guilford, CT
As the crowd slowly filed in for a long day at Great Woods, The String Cheese Mountain Boys (as Billy dubbed them) kicked things off with a “Panama Red” that got what few people had arrived immediately to dancing. Afternoon acoustic Cheese was the perfect way to start a long evening. Good time to sit down and get situated mentally and physically, but the sitting didn’t last long as Cheese moved through one goodie after another and had the place bopping. 45th and Weary Homesick were the choice cuts for me, but it truly was one of those days where it was all good and by the time Bobby strolled out looking like Billy’s brother in the pirate shirts and khakis, the place was already feeling pretty electric. KC Moan was a nice choice, but it was the dead-on perfect Dark Hollow that provided an early highlight of an evening chockfull of them.
After a quick setbreak with a short stroll around to refill the water, Cheese came back and began the hardcore brain shredding that would last the rest of the night. RTW built up to a nice crescendo, then Kang took over a BOTWP that sent things into orbit. Couldn’t have been a more appropriate message for that point in the evening and the ferocious jam at the end built peak on top of peak before exploding into gooey Gouda goodness.
Piece of Mine is going to have to grow on me some more, but I always enjoy Kyle’s vocals, so I took a chance to rest my roadweary legs for a while and save up some energy for the blowout that I knew was coming later.
I’d been waiting all tour (9 shows) for a Texas Town and when they kicked it off, I said to Mari that I’d now heard everything I wanted. Everything else after that was icing on the cake and it was yummy icing for sure.
Tamba is my fave, by far, of the new batch of tunes SCI introduced this tour. Just a fantastic song and message and Kang really crawls inside the song when singing it. Can’t wait for it to continue to grow and develop.
MK had been watching from the side of the stage since the start of Texas Town and I was waiting for him to grab his axe and get out there. He finally made his appearance and Matt remarked to me “I hope they turn him loose like Bobby doesn’t.” Well, I don’t know about Bobby not turning him loose, but he sure rocked out with the Cheese. Sweet Melinda was perfect. Started off slowish and growly, then built up to a monster jam before winding back around and then morphing into Lovelight with Bobby joining in on the fun. A great dancefest to wrap up a great Cheese tour and when they were done, Bobby gave them a lot of love as he left the stage.
Then the main event. Cheese was a great appetizer, but there was no doubt the night was going to belong to Ratdog. It was the Northeast, Ratdog turf, and it was the end of the tour. The crowd continued to file in and then came the announcement that may have made the show – shortly before they were due onstage, Charucki announced that there was rain in the forecast (winkwink) and everybody was invited down into the pavilion.
Mari and I moved up to some empty seats in the second row and to our delight, nobody ever came to claim them. Thank you to the ticket gods who looked out for us this evening! And as an even added bonus to that, the seats we grabbed were right next to Jen and Bleu and in the same area as Bud, Ken, Jef and some of the other ‘Dog family had camped out.
Lights down and the ‘Dog is ready to howl. Big Jam to kick things off that started the dancing early and led into a surprise Big RxR opener (first time in that slot, I believe). Great way to get the already bursting energy even higher. No dribbling into things with a Bird Song – this was gonna be a blowout from the get go. Watchtower kept the energy raising and the pressure drop in the middle flowed perfectly, rather than seeming forced or obligatory as it does on some songs. Things were clicking perfectly for all six of them. Jeff really swirling things up on the Hammond, KB coloring perfectly (when he wasn’t dancing and grinning from ear to ear), Jay pounding away, Bobby cutting and slashing, MK shredding and Robin just pounding out the basslines.
Quick side note – Robin comes more and more into his own every tour, if not every show. He’s mixed louder and louder and he’s more and more assertive. Friday RCMH, my thought after the show was “That was the first time I can say that was a total Robin show.”
Watchtower dissolved nicely into a Dark Star jam that cooled things off and allowed some much needed swaying and melting. Again, this just flowed and clicked perfectly. Gooey without the intentional overthetop forced trippiness that sometimes mars a ‘Dog Star and somehow wound itself into a Rooster that set the place on fire. When Rooster is this good, it’s a special night, especially when Bobby’s slide solo is this good!
Very quick stop to catch a breath, then into the first set highlight for me, an absolutely explosive GRTUD. Jeff and KB created a swirling force of sound that smacked me right in the face and Robin drove things along furiously. Barefootin’ along and dancin’ in a ring around the sun. Trippy psychedelia arrived and swirled around the venue and as things morphed into a Dark star that reappeared and rose high in the sky, the x-factor emerged in full force. Group mind firmly established and the crowd ecstatically rode the lines of music. Kang made his first appearance of the night, adding even more color to the song on the fiddle. Kang, JC and KB together is just plain unfair. So many textures and layers to the music on this Star.
She Says was a big and welcome surprise. I never tire of the tune and it was a treat to hear the fiddle on this one as well. Ended with a nice Bob/Jay vocal jam and led to a Foolish that sent things spinning again and me glowing into setbreak.
Setbreak was surrounded by friends. A great way to set the stage for the end of a great tour.
Band comes out for the 2nd set. Bobby, MK, Robin and Jay. Grab the instruments and start up Masterpiece…well, all of them start except Jay who was busy on his cellphone. Looked like was was sending a text….kind of a bizarre start to things, but he quickly settled down and Masterpiece dripped with emotion, but also foreshadowed what was to come as the band truly was painting a Masterpiece.
Then came maybe the single highlight of the show – an absolute perfect, best of all time Corrina. No stopping this one, it was all dancing from the getgo, and by the time KB finished up his monster solo in the middle, I was completely drenched from head to toe. How is it that guy can absolutely eat my brain night in and night out? And when the notes coming from him aren’t eating my brain, he’s making me grin from ear to ear with either his smiles, his faces or his antics. Cooooooooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….shake it up BABE! Bobby was screaming out the chorus like a man possessed and the band pushed things along higher and higher until the place (and my head!) felt like it was ready to blow….then they pushed it even higher! I remember at one point holding my head in my hands thinking it really was going to explode, but even while doing that, I couldn’t stop my feet from moving….then MK pushed it even more before the “Sweet like honeys” to wrap it up.
Thankfully, they let the song build to a full finish and came to a stop and let us bask in it for a few seconds before Jay kicked off the beat and Kang and Billy walked out from the wings. Slow things down for a song? No way. Silvio kept the dancing going and again, it was KB leading the charge for me (well, it always is, but even more so than usual….LOL). This was a complete boogiefest from all corners – I spun around a few times and the place was rocking all the way up to the top of the lawn. Then came the surprise of the night – Sally and friends climbing up on the crate next to the monitor board for their own dance session. The band reactions were hilarious as Jay saw her and grinned, then got a very silly look on his face and settled back into his drumming, then MK and KB and Bobby all saw her and grinned from ear to ear….and then finally Robin saw the other guys looking and did a doubletake, snapped his head and body around and finished the song facing in that direction. Billy and Kang added an extra layer of rhythm and Billy was ear to ear grinning as he helped out on the vocals.
The “Wooo-woooos” had barely died down when Kyle slid in next to Jeff and the dual keyboard monster began to rip things up again. The slinky sleazy groove of West LA spilled out and things got even hotter as the 9 guys onstage created a mountain of sound. Kang and Billy really locked in after the first chorus and went back and forth at each other from across the stage, with MK adding flourishes here and there. My jaw was dropping in awe and my head snapping back and forth as they traded licks back and forth before Bobby was ready for the second verse. Big buildup on the chorus, then it became a Kylefest. Head and mouth bopping along as he made Brent’s old Hammond sing beautifully. Short and super sweet solo before MK joined in and the two of them dueled for a bit before Bobby came back in with the final verse and a thunderous chorus that I thought was going to lead into Stuff, but the band had other ideas and Travis, Jason and Keith came running out from the wings and the true CheeseDog began to bark.
Imagine 12 guys onstage having the time of their life and you’ll get an idea of what this Iko was all about. KB on braineater (alto), Kang on mando, JC on piano, Kyle on B3, Keith on percussion sitting with the two of them, Fraggle sitting on the front of Jay’s riser banging on a portable drum, Travis back at Jay’s kit with him, Robin on bass then switching off the bass to Keith and picking up the dingclacker, Billy and MK at Mark’s mic. Just layer on layer of sheer danceability and fun. 12 guys on stage could be sloppy, but for this song, it was sheer perfection. The ear to ear grins onstage were wonderful to behold and everywhere I looked in the crowd, the same grins were evident. Whether it was flowing from us to the band or the band to us, it didn’t matter. The groupmind that had started in the first set was so firmly entrenched, it was one big dancing grinning goofy organism that was shouting out the “Hey Nows” as the rest of the band filed off leaving things to the drummers to absolutely light things up with a mammoth drum break (assisted here and there by Kang) that ended with a huge Jay and Travis hug and even bigger smiles all around. Full band (except Bob) came back and dissolved into a crazy weirdness that Bobby joined in and lead them out of into another surprise.
I thought for sure it was going to be Terrapin. But I had been wrong on the setlist predictions all night. And in a way, I’m glad it wasn’t Terrapin. A big song like that could have taken attention away from some of the others. Rather than setting the table with a mammoth main course, they gave us a potluck collection of amazing dishes that all deserve as much attention as any other. So as Come Together came around, it was another grin that spread across my face. And the buildup of this song was perfect since it allowed things to cool off, then explode all over again in full force and the psychedelic aspect returned for the end of Dark Star before Bobstar completely took over the show with an oldschool Sugar Mag complete with all the antics – windmills, spitting, legkicks, front of the stage lunges (and a great Bobby lyric flub – where’s the applause sign, damnit?)….totally bringing the house down.
Full on roaring applause followed the end of Sugar Mag and the 6 Doggies plus Kang and Billy came back out for a soothing singalong Ripple that was a beautiful ending, but there was still one message left – it was Saturday night and the party was just starting. One more appearance from the dual keyboard monster and one last rocker to send everyone into the night.
The 30 person group bow and the hugs and smiles were the perfect lasting image of the best tour ever. I cannot wait to see what the future holds collaboration wise.
Thank you to Ratdog and SCI for an incredibly special 3 weeks and a closing night like no other. See you both in August!
Chez, Fairfax, VA
Always awesome to see Ratdog. I felt the energy from the band as well as the crowd was lacking. Probably due to the shi**y venue. Went to eight shows in the spring, and this one had nothing on any of the shows I saw in the spring. But the Vibes is coming and this is where Ratdog is going to rip it up like they did last year. See you at the Vibes.
GFresh, Vernon, CT
FUN WEST LA FADE AWAY
IKO AND SILVIO ARE ALWAYS A CROWD PLEASER
TOTALLY WAISTED THAT NIGHT.
SCI ROCKED RIPPLE
BOBBY IS THE MAN
BELLEW, MILFORD NH