Confession: the pandemic has taken a lot out of me. I find that it’s still difficult to drag myself out of the house. Sometimes even when I already bought tickets to a show. Hey, at least the band still gets my money? The problem is that I keep discovering more and more artists I deem essential any time they pass through, and bands refuse to break up. I gotta make some rules. I’m neglecting the local scene. I still haven’t even seen Rat Bath live yet which is a freaking travesty. I could make a rule like ‘only go to shows in Milwaukee’ but the problem is, one time seeing Joe Bonamassa was more than enough. The shows on this list that actually occurred in Milwaukee were miracles. (Admittedly one show on this list I could’ve seen in Milwaukee but I dropped the ball and had to catch it in Chicago instead.) I just have this cursed loyalty issue. It takes a lot for me to give up on a band. I went and saw Stone Temple Pilots in 2010 for cryin’ out loud. I paid money for that experience.
It’s probably time I say goodbye to some bands. I’ve got time to ponder it. I’m already putting some heavy hitters on notice. PIPs as the corporate people say I think. There are at least four bands on this list for which I’m instituting a strict no-traveling rule from now on. Sadly there’s one act on the list who ain’t coming back no matter how much I’d wish it. And there’d be a couple more, if I were including Big Ears.
But I can’t include Big Ears (which you can read about here: http://www.you-phoria.com/Blog/2022/March/big-ears-was-alright-if-you-like-saxophones), because it would shuffle almost everything else out of the piece. I thought that with the demise of Eaux Claires the whole idea of a welcoming, well-organized, music-above-all festival was finished. Knoxville is a bit of a hike but this is where all the best music happens, my friends. It’s happening again in 2023. I can already all but guarantee a “surprise” set by Trevor Dunn’s Trio-Convulsant. This is the type of shit that will never happen in our time zone.
It will not feature Low and it will not feature Jaimie Branch and it really hurts to face this. It’s gonna hurt that whole weekend too. Going into those rooms where I saw them play just months ago is going to be hard at first. I’m taken right back there as I type this. Those spaces will never be the same and it is going to keep happening. So we carry on in everyone’s memory, as thick as they get in all these rooms, and hope that it never gets to be too heavy. We can’t let the weight overwhelm the joy.
Please enjoy these words about some highlights of the year. The ones towards the bottom were the ones I liked best.
Phish: Deer Creek, 3 June
It’s a pretty great time to be a jamband fan. You’ve got a nice variety of up-and-coming acts who are arguably worth spending three hours with. One of them, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, is an actual not-terminally-boring Grateful Dead cover band! (They played Stone Temple Pilots’ “Vasoline” in tribute to Weiland on the anniversary of his death, what kind of Dead cover band does this?? Rock on Joe Russo.) Their success is due to one primary point: take the ‘fake Jerry’ factor right out of the equation. Don’t even pretend to be The Dead. Just jam Dead tunes and see what happens. Of course you still have the last remnants of the actual Dead (minus Phil Lesh) taking a final victory lap next year as Dead & Company (I haven’t seen this band and there’s no way I’m paying that). You also have Phil doing his sporadic stints here and there with various all-star Friends, which in my limited experience still tend to produce great music. Apart from the Dead stuff, you have quasi-elder-statespeople like STS9 playing at a high level, and seemingly Widespread Panic as well given they still sell out three nights at the Riverside every year, although like most acts of their generation (Disco Biscuits, String Cheese Incident, etc.) they don’t tour like normal jambands any more. The only workhorses remaining from that class are the gentlemen of Umphrey’s McGee and I honestly don’t have a grasp of what they’re about any more. I don’t have any hate for ‘em and next time they play Summerfest I’m sure I’ll go, and I’m sure they’ll play two or three songs whose names I will be able to recall. Another great omen for 2023: the return of LES CLAYPOOL’S FEARLESS FLYING FROG BRIGADE! Golly I hope it’s not just festival dates. Then you have Billy Strings and his guitar-hero jamgrass thing headlining arenas and amphitheaters already, and you have indiefolk-jambland hybrid Goose presumably getting close to that level as well. And we also have to ask ourselves, are King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard part of this now? I haven’t seen them since June 2018 and there wasn’t any jamming going on at that show but I’m seeing a lot of buzz from jam-o-philes on the internet. Based on the sheer volume of not-horrible songs they’ve released it seems so unlikely that they’re a jamband, though. Wouldn’t it be great to have some non-Americans put a spin on this? A group with a unique mythology in place, fresh modes of approaching music, and they can jam? I’m excited to see them next year and find out, keeping in mind that my Next Big Thing hopes have never panned out thus far.
Then there’s the question of whether or not it’s a good time to be a Phish fan. Next year will mark their 40th anniversary as a band and 2022 didn’t exactly get me hyped for it. I have to admit, though, when I listened back to the Alpine Valley shows the first two nights didn’t sound so bad after all; I think it was mainly the Sunday tour-closer that soured me. After all, they had just played an instant classic at Blossom a couple weeks prior. Plus it must be said, we were coming off one of the band’s best years ever in 2021. That hurt the Deer Creek run as well, although it’s tough to find fault in that first night, which is the night this entry is ostensibly about. I solemnly refuse to take first-set jams for granted ever the rest of my Phishgoing life and we got two of ‘em in the reliable “Everything’s Right” and the never-previously-jammed “Mull”, a tune I’ve been crusading for ever since it appeared, finally a Mike song besides “Yarmouth Road” and “555” getting some mileage! Then there was the second set that was maybe not overtly referential to a hallowed show on this date eleven years prior but it was a worthy Mike’s-birthday successor with “Down With Disease” and “Fluffhead” again making up the bulk of the set to the dismay of no one, and a respectable “Ruby Waves” jam in there too. It was more the sense of unpredictability that was missing, tonight and most nights of the tour, and that’s what I prize most of all in Phish. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of that stuff up their sleeves next year. Unless they’re actually taking a vacation for their anniversary? Mike has already announced dates with his solo band stretching into July, suggesting Phish aren’t likely to play any shows until at least mid-July. I guess we’ll see; they still love being the last band to announce their tours. If nothing else, 2022 served to knock down any expectations I have of Phish, again.
However, somebody needs to have a serious talk with the members of this band about their live sound, which fucking sucked this year. Here you can watch their sound guy explain why it sucked, although he doesn’t seem too bothered by it: https://youtu.be/IxhVFwqPth8
So that would be my hope for 2023, Trey, Mike, Page, Fish, I don’t care about jams or bustouts or if you want to just sing ballads and preach new-age garbage night after night, play “The Line” for all I care, just please watch this video and then make some executive decisions so that the people who buy tickets to your concerts get the best possible sound. As a renowned live band you should fucking care about this. Thanks.
Wilco: The Sylvee, 9 September
The last time I saw Wilco before this show in Madison was Summerfest 2021. That show was a little predictable; the omnipresent pandemic mindfuck was the only thing that made the experience memorable. Prior to that, I’d seen Wilco here at The Sylvee, the 9th of March 2020, the first (and, as it turned out, third-to-last) date of that tour. Jeff Tweedy made sure to remark upon this in 2022, and I felt a sharp twinge of immense gratitude that we were able to stand here in a room together and laugh about it. By a show of applause, for a few fans this was their first concert since 3/9/20, and it’s certainly not unthinkable that Wilco would be the only band that certain folks would be willing to venture out for. I’d loved the previous show here despite the real-time trepidation about being in a tightly-packed venue. And things were…totally different now. Right? Ahem, this more recent show I enjoyed more than the last couple for a handful of reasons. For one, I was slightly devastated by the latest Wilco album Cruel Country and dying to experience some of those songs live, not that they’re musically intense, more for the lyrics, a whole bunch of my favorites that Jeff has ever written and that’s saying a lot. To sing along to “I Am My Mother” and “Hearts Hard To Find” and “A Lifetime To Find” and especially “Falling Apart (Right Now)” was my main goal and that happened. By contrast, the last album, Ode To Joy, had songs that seemed like they’d be amazing live but maybe hadn’t had enough of a chance to develop yet prior to the pandemic, so the new songs in 2020 weren’t major highlights (and they never even played my fave from the album, “Quiet Amplifier”). Only one song from Ode made it onto the setlist this September, which wasn’t exactly speckled with rarities the way I might prefer; however, the addition of “I’m Always In Love” towards the end of the set enhanced the whole contour of the show immensely, and the ‘audience participation’ portion of the “Spiders” closer didn’t seem nearly as forced as it has on previous tours. Plus, for the first time possibly EVER that I’ve seen, they got to the end of the jam section of “Impossible Germany” where the Thin Lizzy-style twin guitar harmonies come in and they played that part with gusto, letting the notes linger rather than plucking them like they’re deadheading a shrub. It felt great. And then for the encore, a real treat: “Kicking Television”, a song I was beginning to think I’d never see them play live; prior to this tour it had been eight years since they’d done it and they haven’t again since this night. Tiny details like this do add up, especially since Wilco don’t really mix up their setlists much lately. They have way too many songs now. There might be whole albums you’ll never hear from again at a Wilco show. We fans are so lucky that the new songs are still so good.
IDLES: Riverside Theater, 3 September
I’m not even a huge fan of this band. I only really like Joy As An Act Of Resistance. The song “Television” when I first heard it, I really related. It may be a tad oafish but I still think its heart is in the right place, and the same goes for pretty much any IDLES song you care to name. It’s not punk rock but it’s got at least one thing in common with the Sex Pistols and that is that shouting along to some of these songs can be extremely cathartic, especially with a few thousand other people. (If you want more words I already reviewed this one: https://milwaukeerecord.com/music/idles-treat-riverside-theater-to-ferocious-fun-performance/)
Body Futures: X-Ray Arcade, 11 March
It does me good, thinking back on this show. Memories like these are important not only as comforts to the heart but also as harsh reminders of what we’ve been through. Because the pandemic has taken a lot away from us, tangible and intangible. This show was the feeling of ‘BUT IT DIDN’T TAKE THIS AWAY’. Noisepop with autoharp, still in the world! And the way they roared through this set. And the enduring feeling that X-Ray Arcade is this oasis of good vibes after decades of failed shitholes occupying the space. The work and sacrifice it must’ve taken to keep this place from going under the past couple years, and now here we are. Isn’t this spirit of community the core of why music even exists? Because obviously the industry can’t support a weirdo band like Body Futures. Dixie Jacobs has a voice that can rip your heart right out (didn’t you ever see a white, wrench, conservatory. show?) but she doesn’t tend to make music for the masses. We don’t want to keep her to ourselves but we can still feel the thrill of being in the know. There are a million little pockets of creativity in the world but this one is ours, and I hope we’re getting back to nurturing it. Even though it is still hard.
Ween: Riviera, 19 March
Who could’ve predicted in 1993 when “Push Th’ Little Daisies” went um VIRAL that Ween would ever be even a tolerable live act? I was handed a copy of Pure Guava as I was leaving a Rocky Horror screening one night and it was just about the worst thing I could ever recall putting in my boombox. I hated it so much I offered it as a giveaway on my WMUR radio show if I remember correctly, if anyone would just PLEASE call us and prove you’re listening. Then we rubber-banded it together with a compact disc of Phil Collins’ Both Sides. The look on those kids’ faces, we had only told them “mystery prize” hahaha. My co-host, Ryan, had asked me out of the blue to take over for his previous co-host when she turned out to be unreliable; he had been on the FM airwaves already in high school and found the Marquette situation woefully archaic and unfulfilling but damn did we have some good times. We could play absolutely anything we wanted because it didn’t go out over the airwaves, only the university cable access channel. One night we played Mr. Bungle’s “The Girls Of Porn” unedited! Right next door to a church. I don’t know why Ryan even asked me to do this; he was a born DJ and I never could keep up with his banter. He went back to St. Louis after freshman year for a real radio gig, or so he told me, and I never heard from him again. The guy who’s solely responsible for me ever getting into radio in the first place. I think he ended up becoming a lawyer. And now they’ve torn the ol’ beercan McCormick Hall down, and WMUR is just MUR and it’s solely internet streaming. As I type this they’re playing “Fake Happy” by Paramore.
“Weird Al” Yankovic: Chicago Symphony Center, 16 July
Did you all SEE the Weird Al biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe?? It was better the second time, I’m telling you. The way it’s not just…what it is, but also a true worthy successor to UHF in spirit. The Yankovic humor and humility on full display. Perhaps in certain respects, only to fans who already get it. For one thing, there’s been a fake trailer for this movie in existence for over a decade; it was never intended to lead to an actual movie! That’s the idea behind these Vanity tours, too: sure you’re hoping to impress any casual onlooker, but the biggest laughs and cries are only for the diehards. And even though I didn’t get my “Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota” this time around, I got to see a precious few songs at this show that I’d never seen Al play before and in all likelihood never will again. Should I go on about the band again? I feel like people might be sick of me writing about how good Weird Al’s band is. The truth is I still think of this tour as kind of a last gasp, but what a gasp it was. And I certainly don’t put it past Al to come up with something even more ill-advised, self-indulgent, and/or ridiculous at some point down the road.
STS9: Sacred Rose Festival, 27 August
I think by most accounts, even those of diehard fans, for some significant stretch of its history, this band sucked. I take comfort in this, as I wasn’t the only person driven away and at least I made it back. I was a late adapter in a sense; I never saw them live until 2006, by which point a lot of fans would argue they’d already lost their way. The rave and hippie cultures, you see, used to be strictly separate; there were no techno beats in jamband music and no sequencers and no drummers imitating drum machines and no pacifiers and no ecstasy. And then there was all of that. STS9 strove, I think, to be a bridge between the two cultures, only some of the worst cliches of DJ life dragged the endeavor to a slow death. A death which has since been greatly exaggerated. Meanwhile STS9 carry on that quest of unifying the two ideas, only with the mission already accomplished in various forms across the ever-cross-breeding dance-music spectrum, freed of any legacy burdens, only beholden to their own musical whims, and it’s turning out really great for those of us who like dancing to music whose next move we’re not sure of.
Tortoise and Dead Rider: Thalia Hall, 3 October
I couldn’t say for sure which set was better. Tortoise and Dead Rider are two of Chicago’s finest bands ever and any time one of them is on a bill it takes all my will to resist buying a ticket. When it’s both of them I have no chance. I was as late to the whole post-rock concept as I tend to be with all trends; I discovered Mogwai in about 2000 and assumed they were the ahem standard-bearers for the genre. Then the following year I heard Standards by Tortoise (thanks Tayb!) and I became aware of a whole new world of music. I couldn’t tell you what the Chicago scene was like way back then but I can tell you that Tortoise was a progenitor of all the various what-genre-is-this cross-pollinated groups that have now made that city one of the world’s hotbeds for the shattering of musical definitions. But I admit I like Dead Rider better. I don’t think it’s because they have a vocalist and I don’t think it’s because their vocalist was in U.S. Maple, another of Chicago’s finest bands ever. I think it’s because having seen each band numerous times over the years, the Tortoise shows have all been very similar, whereas the Dead Rider shows have all been different. It may be a familiarity thing; I’ve listened to a lot more Tortoise than DR over the years, they have more music available, and I’ve seen their members in other projects, and in two decades of doing that I just kinda know what I’m in for, whereas with Dead Rider you really never know what’s going to happen. Their sets at Big Ears and Thalia Hall this year left me with completely different impressions, whereas this night’s Tortoise show struck me as one of the better ones I’ve seen, only in the weeks that have passed it has already begun to meld in my memory with all the other Tortoise shows. Different members, never the same venue twice, different alignments on the stage, but always extremely and unmistakably Tortoisey. That’s certainly not a bad thing.
Primus: BMO Harris Pavilion, 2 June (rescheduled from 10/8/21, fka 7/24/21, originally 7/7/20)
Another usual suspect I know! The men of Primus had seemed rather long in the tooth when I saw them at The Sylvee in April. In truth I had no desire to see these guys perform Rush’s A Farewell To Kings more than once; I’d only bought the Madison ticket because this Milwaukee date had already been postponed three times and I was afraid this particular stop was in fact cursed and would just get cancelled. Glad it didn’t! They played all three songs off their new hella decent EP, Conspiranoid, plus just an all-around more pleasing setlist than the Madison show. The guys seemed to have gained strength as the tour wore on, and to top it off the sound at the BMO Pavilion was way better than at The Sylvee, a venue I do generally like but the sound can be hit-or-miss (and sometimes it smells like a locker room in there). The BMO despite its pitiful beverage selection I wish were more heavily booked spring through fall. Anyway I have a feeling we won’t hear from Primus for a while. This tour was originally planned for 2019 but then Primus opted to support Slayer on its farewell tour and rescheduled A Tribute To Kings for 2020, whoops. The tour finally began in August of 2021, and just wrapped up last month in South America. Meanwhile, Les has been busy with his Bastard Jazz project and is reportedly at work on another Claypool/Lennon Delirium release as well, in addition to the return of the Frog Brigade as I mentioned earlier. We’ve been spoiled with a lot of Primus for the past many years; this is a band that seemed basically done in 2000 and tenuous of purpose throughout that decade. Claypool may not be able to sing like Geddy Lee but anything that revitalizes his enthusiasm for his best band is very okay in my book.
Jon Mueller: Cactus Club, 18 October
Dismissing for the duration of this fantasy all logistical quandaries, I think you could put Jon Mueller on a stage in the middle of Soldier Field with just the setup he brought to Cactus Club for this show, and he could perform the same basic set of music, and tens of thousands of people would have no trouble understanding how he came to command such an audience. The only trouble is, food and beverage sales would tank, because you don’t get up and leave the room when Mueller is performing. There’s no opportunity to tear yourself away. You’re captive inside the shock of the air around you, rapt in suspense waiting for the next change. This was one of Mueller’s more edge-of-your-seat arrangements, as each hand held our attention in a separate aspect of a meditative percussive pulse, each section lasting longer than seemed physically comfortable, always compositionally satisfying. It was a sonic short film, plot by each attendee, and I felt a similar way about the opening set by Normal Rituals, though the actors were slightly more visually expressive in that movie. More than almost anything, I appreciate being unable to turn away.
The Breeders: Summerfest, 24 June
I get older and I cry more at concerts. This Breeders set probably gets the award for most crying by me during a show this year. Part of it was definitely, WHY have I waited thirty years to see this band again, and the flashbacks to Lollapalooza ’94. Mostly though it was inexplicable beyond the songs, the performance, Kim Deal’s radiant presence onstage, the feeling that not unlike Radiohead this band had a single quasi-novelty hit single in 1993 yet continue to garner mystique and reverence as the years pass and this was some degree of vindication for them, being here, I hoped. Deal seemed incredulous for sure; who ARE these people, it’s 2022 for Pete’s sake. Meanwhile song after brilliant song; everybody already knows the most recent Breeders album, 2018’s All Nerve, is amazing, right? And all those old songs too? And the inescapable, lovable nonchalance of The Breeders on a stage, intact all these years, like there’s an awkward silence at the indie rock party and it’s time to weed out the poseurs. With love.
Juana Molina: Stoughton Opera House, 29 April
One day I was at Acme Records and I mentioned to Shopkeeper Ken that I was going to get tickets to this show and he told me that Juana Molina was supposed to be coming through town with her band back in 2020 only arrrrrgghhhhhh. Considering it was her full-band 2020 live album ANRMAL that first got me into her, yes I sure as hell hope this happens some day. ANRMAL however led me backwards down the Molina timeline and now she’s become basically our household answer to ‘what’s something we’re both always in the mood for’. The career Molina has had so far, it’s simply incredible. Plus I’d heard that the Stoughton Opera House was gorgeous and it sure is. The atmosphere is so old-school and theatric; it was perfect. Molina walked out and opened her set with an improvised song about the wonderful reception she’d received in Stoughton after experiencing credit-card woes. It was a perfect way to break the ice, as the rest of the songs would not be in English, but as one might hope from someone in her place of reverence among fans of subtle electronic music, she told other stories as well. The live-looping routine was clearly old hat and these songs I’d grown to love were expanded and enlivened in this setting beyond what most one-person bands could ever dream up. Getting to watch her craft these undulating sound collages felt like a rare gift. I hope she could feel all our smiles through the masks.
The Comet Is Coming: Thalia Hall, 13 October
It’s the curse of the music writer and I try not to let it bug me very often but I TOLD you all about this band last time. And you STILL didn’t go. I know, I know, it’s a pandemic. Well I wouldn’t be surprised if this band never comes back and it’s all your fault. I’m joking of course, about the last part. It’s just that Shabaka Hutchings has already told us that The Comet Is Coming as well as Sons Of Kemet are about to go on hiatus so he can focus on playing his shakuhachi, and he’ll probably start a half-dozen other new bands before he ever gets back around to this one. It’s such a bizarre clash of British and U.S. musical attitudes, a hodgepodge of UK rave and jazz with a cosmic American psych bent bordering on jambandyness. Only instead of a guitar, there’s a saxophone. I think the hippie-dippie overtones in keyboardist Danalogue’s overall ethos go deeper than I choose to pay attention to; this is instrumental music so who cares? Say what you want about the UK but can you imagine bizarre music like this being nominated for an album-of-the-year grammy? No, you can’t; we invented jazz in this country and our music industry has been trying to sweep it back under a carpet for like half a century now. And we’re talking about infectious, highly danceable quasi-jazz here, the kind of music that if it appeared inside a jam by one of your leading improvisational rock bands headlining arenas these days, fans would be passing out from the intensity. As it turns out, though, I think younger American hippies really are more interested in what’s predictable and safe, the comfort of recycled and rehashed lyrical hooks, than challenging and unpredictable music. I mean who am I to talk, I have Elton John ranked above this.
Elton John: Soldier Field, 5 August
I’ll never learn. The truth is, seeing Elton John live was never a huge priority for me. I like a lot of his songs and love a handful of them and when I happen to read Elton interviews I always seem to come away from them with even more respect for him. But he’s 75 years old and I hate “Tiny Dancer”; what are the chances I want to put myself through this concert just to say ‘yes I saw Elton John once’? Nevertheless, when the Milwaukee show sold out I was half-heartedly bummed, and then the Milwaukee show got postponed, and then there was the reminder that concerts can just go away entirely without warning. As it turned out, the experience in Chicago got personal quickly. Since I don’t listen to much commercial radio and don’t generally get the urge to listen to Elton’s greatest hits, I found myself having entirely new experiences with these songs, even as some of them conjured up feelings from the past I could scarcely put my finger on. Decades-old interpretations of certain lyrics became suddenly, vividly wrong. I’m not sure if my grudge against “Tiny Dancer” had simply died of neglect or if this concert cured it (although you still won’t catch me rewatching Almost Famous). The funniest thing that happened, though, was that after two years of pre-recording my Local/Live radio program, I’d practically forgotten that back in the beforetimes, I played “Your Song” every damn week on that show. And it was going to be happening again soon. That kinda threw me for a loop. But I suppose it was “Rocket Man” that affected me the most. Sure, I saw the movie, I liked it a lot more than that horrendous Freddie Mercury bio. But I still didn’t QUITE make the necessary connection, whether it was intended or not, to get to the heart of the John-Taupin tandem, the way songs not at all about Elton, not from his perspective, can BECOME his in a realer sense than either composer could intend. There are the widely discussed interpretations, there are the secret meanings known only to Elton and Bernie, but there’s also the resonance in the heart of any random fan, and that’s the genius of “Rocket Man”, how wide open it is. I honestly don’t count Bernie Taupin amongst my favorite lyricists. I don’t even think the words to “Rocket Man” are very good. There are just a few really good ones here and there that, when sung the way Elton sings ‘em, can take you away from all this. And so all of us in Soldier Field were lifted up that night, taken away, by a radiant Elton and his smokin’ band. And when he told us how many shows he’d played in Chicago in his life, and that this would be the last… fuck I’m crying again.
The Smile: Riverside Theater, 29 November
The world waits for Thom Yorke’s voice to falter; will it ever happen? The world no longer waits for Jonny Greenwood to take up his guitar and play rock and roll. He’d tell you that he never put it down; I’m talking about being this into it. Radiohead is one of my favorite bands ever, in the studio and live, although there’ve been disappointments over the years, nights I wasn’t exactly in tune with them, like Lollapalooza ’08 (to be fair, Thom was sick), like Bonnaroo ’12 (it couldn’t possibly have stacked up to ’06), even Thom’s last appearance in Milwaukee in 2018 (https://milwaukeerecord.com/music/thom-yorke-stays-solo-uncompromising-riverside-theater-show/) left me slightly cold. It’s always due to the untouchable heights they can bring me to, and that definitely included Atoms For Peace in both 2010 and ’13. Still, it’s not as though Thom or any other guitarist can really do what Jonny can do. That goes for the other members of Radiohead, too, the ones who aren’t in The Smile; I hope some day that band tours, or maybe I’ll have to wait for an evening with Thom Yorke solo acoustic to hear those old songs again. In order to keep on living in the present we’ll have to at least pretend to assume that we’ll have time for that nostalgic nonsense later. Meanwhile there’s THIS, a new band whose debut show in 2021 sounded like three guys tinkering around and who at the Riverside sounded like just about the fiercest power trio in rock. I really sat through this whole show in awe, I had built it up in my head quite a bit and thought I knew basically what I was getting into, and while the SITTING part was odd, my heart was bursting with gratitude. There’s a whole army of expensive production staff and equipment to ensure that anything these rich dudes do is going to sound good, but my incredulity at the power of this show went way beyond this. From what I’ve read Thom isn’t particularly fond of touring, period. Maybe it’s all that RADIOHEADDDDDD pressure. More and more I wish the old guys WOULD stay home and quit hogging all the venues and entertainment dollars, give somebody else a chance. Then again sometimes, like Neil Young or Tom Petty before them, these old guys have to trudge out there again and show the youngsters how it’s done. Please come back soon, The Smile.