Rocky Mountain Ramblings

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at The Ogden February 16, 2015

I saw Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at The Ogden Theater in Denver last night, and it has recently been considered by some to be the greatest Grateful Dead cover band of all time.  The band is cast with some very outstanding musicians, and it definitely brings a new energy and perspective to the much-loved tunes that have been played for years.

Google photo stock

Google photo stock

While JRAD tries to stick to traditional sound during each song, the jams and improvisations are incredibly unique and progressive.  “It’s like a modern day ‘Space’,” I commented during one instrumental portion of the show when Russo held his drum sticks above his drum set, making it look like he was creating sound, even though it was coming from Marco Benevento on keys.

Tommy Hamilton simply shreds his role as lead guitarist, and I think his sound gives fans insight as to what Trey Anastasio might sound like when playing with The Dead this summer. Hamilton’s vocal cords don’t really resonate with those of the late Jerry Garcia, which is something I am accustomed to when seeing Dead cover bands.  “It’s not about the vocals with this band,” said Chris, after I commented that both guitarists, Hamilton and Scott Metzger, read lyrics off their music stands, and of course he was right.  So much talent rains out of this band, you can’t help but be blown away by their sound, and at least Metzger does a pretty good impersonation of Bob Weir on vocals.

The band’s namesake, Joe Russo, was front and center on drums, beating away all night, pouring all his energy into every song.  He played so hard, in fact, that part of his drum kit disassembled during “Shakedown Street” toward the end of the first set.  The band had to stop playing, and the house tried to cover for them by putting a “Shakedown Street” remix on over the speakers as the band walked off stage without appropriate or well-deserved applause from the audience. The band snuck back on stage after setbreak and picked up the Shakedown jam right where they left off, and Chris and I tried to regain our spots in the center of the first tier, but the crowd was too thick and we spent second set a little further back.

Stage left of Russo was bassist Dave Drewitz (from Ween), and he brought some awesome new licks and flavor to the classic songs.  I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to have seen him play side by side with Phil Lesh this past New Year’s Eve in New York, because last night my face got rocked and my spirit refreshed from spending a few hours in the presence of such talented instrumentalists.

Just like when I saw JRAD in Denver this past October, after the show ended people raved about the band, saying they put on a better show than Furthur, or any current Dead cover/tribute band.  While I do agree that Furthur does not have the same youthful energy as JRAD, I can’t say that JRAD is better.  Nobody can be better than the original artist, that’s not the way the universe works.  The cover band wouldn’t even be on tour if it weren’t for the OGs.

While leaving the venue last night a man behind me said, “Fuck The Dead’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago, I’m going on JRAD tour,” and I thought to myself, “Good.  Go on JRAD tour. You’ll be one less person to fight for tickets in Chicago, cause that’s gonna be that real deal Grateful Dead shit.”

I left the JRAD show feeling great.  I was very happy to go out, see friends, dance my booty off and have my musical horizons expanded to a new level, but man, now all I can think about is how I need to see Phil Lesh in the flesh as soon as possible!

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Disco Biscuits at The Ogden 1/15/11 February 4, 2011

Filed under: Show/Concert Reviews — rovinglady @ 2:50 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Oh, Colorado. The place where one awesome weekend runs right into another, with five days of what I now refer to as “workidaze” in between.

Disco Biscuits at The Ogden Theater on 1/15/11, can we talk about this for a minute? Because I’ve been meaning to document the fabulousness that was that day ever since it happened, but I was actually abducted and taken to space at the show and by the time I found my way back the next weekend had begun, and in my experience, weekends are for enjoying situations of which to be documented, not to perform actual documentation…

Denver Disco Biscuits day started early – I think it was about 10:30 AM that I received word a crew was meeting for bottomless mimosas at The Irish Snug on Colfax Ave. Though I momentarily debated the day drinking, I decided it best to put on my concert attire (which included my never-worn silver sequin stretch pants and my “fish tits” tank top,) and head out for a work-free day on the town with my party people.

Binge drinking and allowing a rave couple to photograph my “shiney hiney”at The Irish Snug turned into more drinking and debauchery at The Cheeky Monk. At that bar I ran outside to watch a man face down on the sidewalk get handcuffed by two cops, and I then applauded and shouted “Freedom!” after they uncuffed him and let him back into the world that is Colfax Ave.

After taking a brief intermission from day partying (or did we take an intermission?) the crew re-gained strength and buzz at Sanchos Broken Arrow before heading to the venue. Some of my friends marched right on down to the pit and that is where I began my show; front row, on the railing, stage right. I actually didn’t even make it through the entire first song in the front row because I really dislike being smushed in a crowd, but I learned something in my short-lived glory…I have what may be referred to as a “musicians crush” on bassist Marc Brownstein. Oh yes, it’s true; I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s from Philly, he makes amazing music, I imagine he’s got a cool personality and he’s a bobble head with cute style. I dig it.

I ended up spending a majority of the show on a second level balcony and even that was crowded. In fact, one of my friends said he didn’t see the band one time from our spot. I, on the other hand, made it a point to squeeze into a space near the balcony railing and this was one of the best decisions I could have possibly made. I literally said “oh my god,” when I saw the laser light show that was going down, and I’m pretty darn sure that it was the best concert light experience I have ever had.

From my position on the upper deck the horizontal lasers that shot out across the venue were exactly at my eye level, transporting me through galaxies, carrying me through the cosmos. At some points I was hanging over the balcony railing, flailing my arms into the lights and feeling like I was on some sort of amusement park ride, or watching a 3-D star show in a planetarium. It was absolutely amazing and I believe it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was in the right spot at the right venue at the right time. What a spectacle!

Of course, I also thought the music was outstanding and so well enhanced by the light display.  The entire show was a booty shaking good time, and the band played one of my all-time favorite songs, “I-Man” as well as one of my new found favorite songs, “We like to Party.” I also really wanted to hear “Home Again,” and you can bet your bottom dollar I was tickled beyond belief when it was performed as the encore.

This was one of those concerts that I didn’t want to end. Everyone I saw was a smiling, sweating, dancing mess, and I am sure that the missions of all in attendance were accomplished (RAGE FACE!).

During the show Brownstein announced there will be a third annual Bisco Inferno this May right here in CoolaRADo, and he also put to rest some rumors that he (and the band) are re-locating to Denver. The answer to that rumor was, if he gets busted smoking pot one more time in Philadelphia, he will move to Denver. At first my opinion on this was, “don’t wait until you get arrested, move now!” But then I realized that whatever the band has going on in Philly is a damn good thing, and I would rather that carry on than have the satisfaction that “the band lives in the same city as me.”

On that note, I think my synopsis is complete. Morale of the story – the Disco Biscuits know how to throw down.  Here is an awesome video of the band in the studio!