The rain just made it feel more like SF to me... always a plus, since I've always felt displaced in LA. I almost thought we'd get away without the place being too crowded to breathe, but by the opening jam it was pretty much sardine time. Still, the crowd was in a great mood and greeted the band with a huge cheer.
The jam-in tipped off a Shakedown opener. The boys opened strong; it seems they're incapable of doing otherwise at this point. Even so, it seemed to take awhile for them to really open up. Shakedown got the groove going for a 1st set that was mostly straight-ahead rock n roll. (I was kinda surprised at the number of repeats from Anaheim; even though that show was a week ago, it was only about 30 miles down the road.) Lots of kick-ass jamming, though none of it got too far out into exploratory Ratspace (the taste before Dark Star's first and only verse was my 1st set highlight), and the Althea closer was not quite up to the brilliant standard they established at Anaheim. MK shined in Loser with a terrific solo. The song selection was not drawn from my personal A-list, but the engines were gassed up and ready to go for Set 2.
Set 2 opened with a great acoustic Mexicali. Being an acoustic player, I love this section of the shows. It's a whole different world, one that's got that great front-porch intimacy without sacrificing any musical intensity or the ability to go exploring. It's like chamber music, contrasting with the full orchestra, and has its own kind of power. For me, the show finally opened up and hit its stride with a sensational Masterpiece. The energy level was enormous. 1/2 Step kicked in and smoked, although I thought MK was laying back on his solos most of the night. His comping work, however, was gorgeous throughout. The first notes of St. Stephen had us all roaring again and launched the show into its apotheosis. From here on out, the band never looked back. A howling rocknroll perfect storm, complete with Wm Tell Bridge and a joyful Eleven. The Drums/Keys/Sax jam was also a highlight for me. Overall, I really thought the night belonged to Kenny and Robin. It was a sensational show for both of them. (Can we please get a thread going about the amazing contribution of Kenny Brooks to this band?!) Kenny's soloing all night long was breathtaking. I read an interview in which he said when he first joined the band he would sit on the bus and transcribe Jerry's solos to get familiar with the material. His style is obviously nothing like Jerry's, but the SPIRIT of his playing is right there, and tonight he hit it out of the park. Kenny man, you rock, you rule, you da Buddha, baby. And Robin continues to impress me more and more each time I hear him. His playing is constantly surprising and inventive, both supporting and driving the music. The perfect addtion, imho.
Any show with Corrina is a peak for me, and tonight once again the boys ripped it up. Bobby and MK were batting a few balloons back into the crowd, and everyone was dancing in a ring around the sun. It left me totally drained. Still, the band got me back on my feet one more time for a happy-go-lucky NFA encore. The cheering and ovation at the end was deafening, eliciting a pronam bow (hands folded Buddhist style) and a big smile from Bobby, who laughingly started shoving the other guys off stage for the final exit.
I might not go out of my way to get Set 1, but Set 2 proved yet again that we're in a Golden Age of Ratdog. The band is so tight and seems to cruise effortlessly from high to high. If the Music says "Dissolve into dreams," they just do it. If the Music says, "Go rocketing to the stars," they just do it. Whoever called 'em The True Vine of the Grateful Dead Tree nailed it. The alchemy is completely in place, and the Dog is simply the best band there is. I envy every one of you down the line on this tour.
West TX Cowboy, Los Angeles, CA
Last night's show was off the hook! The venue is tight and every spot in the place is exceptional. One of the big suprises of the evening was Maggies Far'm, which came out of the big opening Shakedown Street jam. I hadn't heard that tune in years. By far though, my favorite tune was Loser. This slow blues tune was tight. The band as a whole displayed excellent control and depth. Ratdog is one of those bands that allows all the players a moment to shine.
Brent Galaway, Los Angeles, CA
So amazing! I've never heard Candyman live--it was great--and Wharf Rat was incredible. One of the best shows I've ever seen.
Kimberly Tosian, Simi Valley, CA
This show was amazing. Starting with Shakedown (best way to start a show), and ending with Not Fade Away. Also, they were not supposed to be playing this for the encore, but they did. So it shows it was a quick think up. For it to be the show I was at, even better. They were going to finish with Corrina it looks like on the setlist; thank god they didn't. Mark Karan kicked ass at this show, and Chimenti also had his times. I will just finish with this: this was Karan's show. And it was awesome. Thanks guys.
Pixy, Santa Barbara, CA
"What a band" were the words I heard over and over again from the surrounding fans on the floor at the House of Blues. I agree, not only is Bob Weir as sesitive and confident as he always has been, but he's surrounded himself with some of the best in the business. Mark Karan is quickly becoming one of my favorite guitarists. He sold me with his solo on "Loser" last night. The only way to hear a more melodic and heart-felt solo on this tune would be to put on a Dead version with Jerry from the early 80s. Kenny Brooks was smokin' on that sax, a nice texture during the jams. I really enjoy Kenny and Jeff's jazz approach to the music. Don't miss Ratdog this spring.
Nate LaPointe, Los Angeles, CA
Well I was at the West Hollywood show, and I thought the venue (H.O.B.) was waaaay oversold/crowded. You could not get an inch of space anywhere. Being a vetran of nine Dead summer tours, I feel bad about this but the energy just wasn't there. When I was at Alpine Valley during questions and answers w/Other Ones, I asked why they dont play LA that much, and with that Weho show I see why. Shitty LA 'head sene. I will not go to House of Blues again. I love Ratdog and the Dead, and I think Ratdog should get venues that are befitting the band, and HOB is not up to snuff. The Wiltern could have been much better. Well anyway, I'm truckin on to the Fillmore now so see ya later.
Mr Deadmcmillan, Los Angeles, CA