Saturday, November 27, 2010
Well, here we are again at Thanksgiving. For me, that means turkey, football, guns, and Mile 8 at Third and Lindsley. This year was the 8th annual, although not consecutive edition and it was one for the ages. The line up was again slightly altered but the spirit of Mile 8 was strong in the air. Jason "Dubbers" Williams from Old Union replaced Russell Wright on the bass, a role he has been taking on more and more regularly (in the Criminal Element) since Russ had a baby. Elsewhere, Jody Douglas and Chris West replaced Adam Livingston (from Boom Ticket) on sax. For whatever reason Adam couldn't get up for this one, whatever, I'll get to more of that in a minute. The rest of the core was there with Randy, Curt, Timmy and Bobby in their places and Caleb gracing us with his presence again on second guitar.
They started off with "Light" and the absent members were instantly missed. The bass was great, just different and the sax was, well, how much can you really miss sax anyway unless you're Dave Matthews or Bruce Springsteen, but the high vocals that Adam (from Boom Ticket) usually provided were noticeably AWOL, and that was the biggest shame. Timmy tried really hard to replace the parts, but his falsetto was no match for Adam's from-the-gut high harmonies. Moving on, I was surprised to see "Naked Christmas" so early in the show. I think it was about the fourth song, and it seemed like this one kind of fell flat on the still seemingly sleepy crowd, who apparently hadn't had enough booze to counteract the turkey. It's still always great to hear Mile 8's classic original carol. This was the feel of most of the first set, including "Afraid To Fall" and into the "Fog Juice"-"Touch Me" run featuring Bobby on vocals for the Doors classic and a set-ending jam section that kept peaking and peaking relentlessly until finally returning to the "Fog Juice" ending. This was one of the highlights for me, as this has always been one of my favorite Mile 8 songs. Randy was right, this crowd needed to drink faster.
They started off the second set with another annual tradition, having former member Neil Patrick Vance sit in on bass for the openers "For You" and "Leave The Woman". This prompted me to ask, "Why not ask Neil to play bass for the whole show?" Then I woke up and realized what a silly idea that was. The rest of the set was a mix between Timmy songs like "Collect" and "Stolen Song", and classic jam epics including a crazy seismic version of "Laugh On". That is, the rest of the Mile 8 portion of the set. After a delirious and manic version of "Elephlamingo", they took a deep breath and kicked off "Because", the opening number of the b-side of Abbey Road. Then they went into "You Never Give Me Your Money" and it became apparent that they were going to do the whole thing, and man, they nailed it. They rocked the rockers like "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", they crooned majestically on "Here Comes The Sun King" and "Golden Slumbers" and they ended the set with, well, "The End". What a great display of the talent of these guys. The people who were there went nuts and the poor saps that left early really missed something special.
The encore was just about as much fun for me as one person should be able to have. Although it was one of my favorite Mile 8 moments, it's all a blur to me, mostly because I was joining Bobby on the percussion. The songs consisted of my all time favorite "Chester Copperpot" and "Waste Away", both of which have really fun drum parts and took killer drum breaks. Man, what an awesome time. The energy in the second set and the encore was heads and shoulders above that in the first set, and the band proved that they still have that special thing we've all been diggin' on for the last decade, even if they only practice 4 times and play once a year. Each time they play, you get that feeling like, "this could be the last one", this night more than ever, but they still kill it and they never appear to stop having a blast. Randy and Caleb are still Batman and Robin on guitar, and Curt and Bobby are still Butch and Sundance on the drums. Timmy also deserves huge props for stepping up his vocals and adding truly original songs to the catalog. If there are any more shows, there's no telling what the roster will look like, but at this point, I'll take whatever I can get.