After an unusually long trip up highway 55 to Chi-town from St. Louie, My buddy Greg and I were near exhausted. It could have been from the wee hour party binge from the night before. It seems that we were both a little too anxious to begin our RatDog weekend.
Nevertheless...we arrived about 2 hrs before showtime. After a short nap time, we sucked down some pizza and cabbed it to the Vic. Nice Venue. We had heard good things about it and were impressed with both the setting and the sound. Tickets said show at 7:30. The line was around the corner of the block, and we were sure that we would miss the opener. We made it in and wound our way around to the balcony. We waited....About 7:50 the lights go down, and Bobby and crew come on. Nice little bouncy and trippy jam to start. Couldn't help but wonder if this was a result of recent shows with Phil including NYE and a brief collaboration last summer. Either way, it was tasty and allowed the guys to stretch out and open the box of psychedelic ooze that they were about to dump on us. Sudden shift..shakedown....A well delivered and even better received rendition indeed. Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart......JUST GOTTA POKE AROUND!!! Nice...and fitting. As the opening chords began to sway throughout the old building for the next number I began to rack my brain for what Dylan song might be coming up. Baby Blue...very sweet. Warm and comforting as a direct contrast to the cold winds that whirled around outside. Youngblood was tasty as well with some glittering guitar work by both Bobby and Mark.
Next up was a rowdy, raunchy, and bluesy Loose Lucy. This was awesome. Even the slightly cluttered areas of the song were so tightly entwined by deep blues and funk that they were unnoticeable. What was noticeable here was DJ Logic. For the first time all night, he caught my ear without me listening for it directly. He was laying wonderful tapestries without being intrusive or overbearing. It was a nice touch. Lucy slinked her slutty self throughout several familiar avenues as well as some not so familiar areas. It was a real crowd pleaser and the lights were a nice addition during the chorus.
After Lucy, Bobby strapped on an accoustic for a nice little reprieve from the runchy blues he had just poured into the crowd. Karan and Wasserman remained on stage for a wonderful El Paso (the first verse of which I was in line for beer during...I was disappointed to miss the opening of the song). Bobby led the Vic in one big sing-along while Wasserman and Karan added spices and flavor to this timeless classic. Corrina was up next and brought the rest of the band back to the stage. It was fun and bouncy...with Chimenti and Karan adding wonderful backup vocals. Lane's talents really showed on the kit during this song. This song has grown on me since '98.
As the band began the opening of Little Red Rooster, Bobby switched guitars again, to a shiny silver box top. Apparently it did not work, as he switched back to old faithful. Then back to the silver bullet, then back to the original, and so forth and so on.... Finally Lane spoke up... "Ladies and Gentelmen, Mr. Bob Weir." Everyone laughed as Bobby finally handed the silver box top to a tech who came to his aide. He strapped on old reliable and begin to screech and howl his way through Rooster. His slide work has always been wonderful (although as he worked his way up the frets on this rendition, there were some rough spots). At this point, I began to think the set was a little loose. It was excellent as far as song selection, and I was enjoying the show, but it was lacking some punch and at times seemed to come unravelled. I noticed many people sitting at this point. This could have been because of lack of energy, or because of the overwhelming odor of primo smoke rising to the rafters. I told Greg that I wanted to head downstairs for the second set. I giggled as the the guy next to us gradually sunk into his seat due to hefty smoke. He sat motionless in his seat for the remainder of the set.
As the next song began to unfurl, I could have sworn it was Minglewood....nope...Maggie's Farm. I enjoyed this immensely as Bobby got his Dylan fix. A big chunk of the balcony took their seats as I boogied my ass off to this different yet bluesy rendition of this classic. After a funky jam near the end, the boys headed back into the funk that is Shakedown. Nice job here. I really got a kick out of the return that created a huge Shakedown hoagie sandwich.
After Shakedown, I was expecting the guys to head to set break.... Wrong... Eyes of the World... wow... were they gonna put out one long set. I made my way to the little boys' room so that I could settle in for a long ride. Eyes was well delivered as well with the harmonies in perfect pitch. The set really began to climax. After Eyes, the guys headed off stage. 1 hr and 38 mins. I will tell you more later.
Phil Wright, St. Louis, MO