“I’m down from the mountaintop and man has my view changed.” As if the bright lights of Las Vegas needed any assistance on the evening of July 11th, 2014 (7/11/14), Mother Nature shown her brightest of beams, the super moon down, on the Sin City strip. But arguably the biggest glow of all was emanating from inside the Brooklyn Bowl. The CRB were on stage tearing through a 2 ferocious sets, and the middle show or a 3 night run. This one is all killer and no filler and I’ve wanted to cover it since the Almanac started. I’m so happy to now have the chance to share it. Both with those of you looking for your next Ravens Reel, and who were lucky enough to attend. Let’s all take a freaky stroll down synapse lane!
Let’s Go Let’s, and we’re off! “That moment” comes early, after the stop in Turnstiles. The full band comes back in with a powerful force. Blowing the outro to pieces and minds into oblivion. That’s the true jumping off point and it’s a cloud of (possible) dust and smoke from there on out. Crash On the Levee is in the 3 spot with plenty of Dylan cool, but it’s also bold and funky fun. CR calls the lunar situation to everyone’s attention before allowing his chugging rhythm guitar to drive them into Beggars Moon. “Faded days, lunar and suede”, the songs clear and airy bounce is met by Neal’s curving notes, highlighting the music and its illuminating feel. One of the stretches that you’ll want to hang on tight for follows. Lizzie Mae in 2014 was one of the bands biggest first set exploration vehicles and they take the restraints of this one and let it loose!! The small things are starting to build and you’ll hear CR adding those subtle accentuations to his lyrics. A rolling bass line gives Adam secure footing to dance along his keys with stylistic and structural diversity. Neal joins the party and they kick into one the nights biggest jams. You can clearly feel the band having so much fun as the song soars and expands to a steady beat. Eventually the structure evaporates and Neal’s sound slowly shifts before that signature guitar intro and bass surge of Tulsa Yesterday leaps forward. This is giant one, with over half the 14 minutes dedicated to some serious, intense jamming. Brilliant and exploratory but never pointless, they take the song to some rare heights before letting it settle into a slow stroll at the end. We get to witness the entire band in a transportive, telepathy tinged musical conversation. About A Stranger is one of my all time favorite CRB songs and the version they lay down here is one of the best. “Call the band, a simple melancholy melody.” Teasing tales and psychedelic crescendos color this version in a river of flowing beauty. Our wizard starts to fire his lasers and our attention snaps back to the strobe of Vegas lights surrounding us. They step on the gas and a rambunctious take on Shore Power explodes from the stage. Confident and charged, it’s a roaring way to pull this amazing first set to a close.
After blazing through Hello L.A., the band changes the mood of the set with the sinister shuffle of Badlands Here We Come. CR has always been one of the great singing storytellers and here we get some of his best imagery, wrapped in the ominous undercurrents that run throughout the song. “Sing along, Sing Along…..” The opening beat and riff of John lee Hookers, Serves Me Right To Suffer sends the set careening off into the sultry blues shades of Neal’s guitar leads. The songs lyrics acting as mere signposts while the band all joins wavelengths and rolls through a nearly 10 minute epic blues jam.
For most bands this would be the set, even the show highlight. But not the CRB. A 5 song stretch follows to close the set that’s full of temporary diversions from our charted path. It’s a true psychedelic angular journey that’s best taken with your head on crooked. It all starts with my favorite CRB song, Clear Blue Sky/Good Doctor. I just love the contrast between the two halves of this composition. It’s like an acid induced Jeckle and Hyde. I’ve before called the Clear Blue Sky portion the musical equivalent of a smile and that always comes to mind when I’m grinning and grooving through it. But it’s the waterfall of organ and guitar that marks the descent into madness as the Good Doctor loses his sanity that rips at every cell and molecular structure in my body. Strange and beautiful it can, if you will allow it, take you to corners of your mind only reachable by this correct combination of auditory exploration. It’s lush and lavish cascades of sound mix with CR’s aching vocal to perfectly deliver “that thing” we all search for in our music. Dylan’s Tough Mama rocks and rolls until it splinters into some really intense jamming and only serves as smoke signals on the set horizon. The song folds into a gnarly dissonance before reforming and eventually exploding into the funky framework of Ride. They circle around the intro for a few minutes before falling into the groove and we are off into some type of hybrid country-funk. It all degenerates and they take us away into some truly mischievous and psychedelic jams. Every time you think it has all peaked, they turn another corner and find more stairs, climbing higher and higher until, is it the thin air?! Or are we…..that’s coming soon enough. This is where the real sorcery occurs as CR breaks into a shaman like wail and call that tumbles with the beat, ending up tangled in the beautiful longing of Burn Slow. Maybe my second favorite song in the arsenal and this is a great one. Guitars and cymbal taps weave through the songs delicate crystalline beauty. Leaving us with the feeling that all these tales are organically tied to each other with some invisible, yet shimmering thread. The slow burn continues, deep, twisted and gripping in every way. Finally we step through the forest an peer through the marine layer at the California Coast and take the sets closing ride with Miss Rosalee. The band can shift its gears so perfectly and they are back flying high as they rip through this one using their mastery of sonic intuition. Our wizards spells of harmonic pastoralism abound as the set roars to a close. A full dose of Skull & Roses style rock and roll arrives in Big Railroad Blues to open the double encore. That 70’s Grateful Dead vibe continues with Mr Charlie as they keep their foot down and launch into the celebratory finale with the power of a Fillmore East barn burner.
It’s always a difficult decision to pick from the big multi-night runs such as this and have to focus on just one show. All 3 nights contain some truly brilliant moments and need to be heard. So by choosing the middle I sort of split the difference with you. But you don’t have to struggle with that at all! If you head to the link now you can grab all three and get a 15% discount off the bundle. And relive these strange occurrences in the desert anytime you feel like taking the trip. The CRB will provide the fuel! They’ve got love if you want it!! Remember, the people who tell you what to fear are the most dangerous ones of all. And as always Freak On brothers and sisters!
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Las Vegas, Nevada
Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go
Jump The Turnstile
Crash On The Levee
Little Lizzie Mae
About A Stranger
Shore Power ,
Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham Badlands Here We Come
Serves Me Right To Suffer
Clear Blue Skies/The Good Doctor Tough Mama
Big Railroad Blues