Some great energy and jams. The mix got a little muddy, but they pulled through. Excellent Hard Rain, Dear Prudence, Truckin, and Althea. Bob and Co. still keep it fun and interesting and challenge themselves. Only predictable spot was One More Saturday night. Would love to see more acoustic, but overall, an incredible musical journey in LA last night. Keep up the good work boys!!
Jimmy, Placentia, CA
From the opening salvo - a jam into Truckin -- this was one of the damndest shows I've ever attended. Aside from a few stretches of marking time in the 1st set, this show swung for the rafters and generally blew right by 'em. (Though I liked the tonal and textural contributions of the sitar player, she wasn't an advanced enough musician to carry the weight of being a Ratdog guest. Keep practicing: there's a lot you could supply to the soundworld here.)
The jamming was fearlessly exploratory. 1st set indications that seatbelts would be needed were the jam between Ramblin Rose and Jack Straw, and later, Dark Star. Slippery doings, no concerns about losing their footing. This is a band that goes from strength to strength with incredible confidence. And how 'bout a moment for the light show -- fantastic! Anyone know who's running that? Great job, thousand thanks ...
2nd Set: A 'Hard Rain' for the ages. Damn! Painted the sky gold while thundering out Dylan's primal warning, one that rings truer today than ever. Pure lightbeam power. I love Even So-->Oct Queen, so I was more than happy to ooze into that zone. Jamming out of Deep End into Terrapin had the intensity and momentum of a ripping O1. Coming off songs of dark prophecy, sin, cynicism and facing hell, the launch into The Wheel was as redemptive as a cool wind in a deep cave. The drums/sitar jam left me a little cold, but as the other guys rejoined the stage, it just got k-krazier and k-k-krazier, resolving into an awesome Dear Prudence. Closing out with Dark Star verse 2 into a Sat Night (what else on a Sat night?) that really rocked. E: US Blues -- the guy waving the flag in, around, and over the band -- both the 50-star variety and the peace-sign version -- had it exactly right. That flag belongs to Freak America as much as anybody, and I flashed hard on how it needs to be reclaimed for the Thoreaus & Whitmans, Kerouacs & Keseys, and all the great visionaries, lunatics, seers, boundary pushers and rule breakers who have given this country its soul. And as long as Bobby & Co. are dishing up shows like this, Freak America will survive. Proof? A very young 3-piece band on the roof of the parking structure (Shakedown Central) next to the Wiltern after the show: They just took the place over & played like young lions.
MWCowboy, Los Angeles, CA
One of the best Ratdog shows I've ever seen. Started strong out of the gate and stayed strong throughout the first set, but the second set is what made it so good.
"Hard Rain" to open, the only acoustic number, was emotional and spot on, with the last verse providing an emotional crescendo that swept through the whole place and gave me goosebumps.
"Even So" was a surprising, but somehow utterly appropriate choice to follow. It's one of Bob's best songs, I think, and the cynicism of it seemed to act as a commentary on "Hard Rain" without diminishing the latter's impact. "October Queen" was spectacular; Karan went nuts, and it's acquired a wistful, post-Katrina patina.
The rest of the set was practically flawless: powerful, emotional, and, in the case of "Dear Prudence," as good as the band can play, I think.
I rated the show a 10, and I frankly don't understand how anyone rated it any lower than, say, a 9.
Jeff Beresford-Howe, Oakland, CA
I have seen Ratdog in various forms since their inception but had yet to witness them do what they did on Saturday night. Their jams were ethereal and exciting, and the energy of the show was unmatched in my Ratdog experience thus far. Makes me want to pack up the VW and go back on tour!
Truckin' to open? Are you kidding? Seems Bobby just wanted to keep on playing that song as they went through the same jam leading to the climax of the tune three times! Ramble On Rose was very strong as was Rooster. Incredible jam into Dark Star as I was expecting them to go into Althea follwing Rooster; Bobby did not disappoint. My first Silvio.... I was impressed. The first set was cut just a little short, as I was left wanting a Music but overall a very fun set.
Second set opened with one Dylan and three Dog tunes that I hadn't heard before--Hard Rain was a beautiful opener. Wheel into Terrapin was a complete meltdown followed by a Prudence that damn near brought tears to my eyes. Back into Dark Star. Just incredible as you knew Bob had to finish it off from the first set, yet the jam into it felt like a Wharf Rat was going to drop in.... Sat Nite and US Blues, though I've seen dozens, did not dissappoint! Overall great crowd, great venue, great time! Can't wait to do it again.... See you all out there....
Mike Conlan, Chatsworth, CA
Jam into Truckin' was a solid harbinger for the evening's performance.... RatDog continues to create new takes on the Dead's catalog; it makes it tough to spot a Jack Straw a comin' and it makes the anticipation of a Dark Star even more exciting.... Whoa! Quite an aural feat and matched by a terrfically distracting light show. For the first time at a RatDog show (and I have seen a few) I felt like I was seeing a individual band. Yes, playing a lot of borrowed tunes, but nevertheless the ingenuity, the visible fun they were having, the pranks, it all felt like such a honest good time--much bigger than great tunes, well-played. Contrary to some of the other posts, I got a little down at the Even So -> October Queen -> Deep End. No question it was well-played, but I lost energy there. Delightfully returned. however, quite rapidly thereafter. I didn't mention it before, but I was quite thrilled with the Dark Star first verse into Althea. A killer pairing. The final nod has got to go to Mark Karan. His guitar cracks like the splitting of a dry-aged redwood 20 feet thick. Damn, the sound could start forest fires. Even Bob was egging him on at points, which made it all the more thrilling and reinforcing that collegial feel they have created. All around great show. Don't stop.
Dominic, El Segundo, CA
It was a nice balmy night in CA, checking at the cool CA scene inside and outside the beautiful art deco Wiltern theatre. The jam started and flowed into Truckin, starting out the show in high gear and running into a nice Ramblin Rose, where Bob did his obligatory line blowing at the outset, connecting with the audience. Then driving into Jack Straw (Robin was dropping bombs). The Dog followed with a Rocking Rooster. Then a first set Dark Star with Gabby La La on Sitar joining in. They jammed into Althea, Bob showing off his slide work with Mark driving Bob to take it ever higher. This was followed by a rocking Silvio-Tequila-Silvio. Id' been wanting to hear this one live and I wasn't disappointed. The crowd was dancing and singing their "tequila" line when Bob gave us the signal closing the first set.
Then instead of the usual acoustic numbers, the whole band with Gabby and J.T. Thomas on the Hammond turned in an incredible Hard Rains going to Fall. They then took it into some of my favorite Evening Mood songs, Even So into October Queen. Steamrolling along into a driving Wheel, which slowed down for an incredible"Wall of Sound" version of Terrapin. The "stuff" started with Gabby on sitar evoking visions of George Harrison/Ravi Shankar, playing beautifully earning an "atta girl" from Mark at the end. Then came an awesome "Dear Prudence" with J.T. Thomas smoking the Hammond, Mark driving the song with his guitar, and the crowd singing, going crazy for Ratdog and Bob. Then they jammed into a nice Dark Star Reprise. Even though predictable, the One More Saturday Night brought the house down for the end of the show. Ratdog had rocked the Wiltern. Then a rocking and rolling U.S. Blues where everyone in the band was awesome and of course Roadie Bill waving that Flag. I was exhausted afterward, having been up 24 hours straight, experiencing 3 hours of high energy Ratdog. I Needed rest for Sunday in Long Beach.
Butch Worrell, Nashville, TN