The 6th and 7th shows of the 2018 calendar found the CRB making their 6th and 7th appearance at The State Room in Salt Lake City. A venue fast becoming a must see stop on the Brotherhoods now annual march eastward from the stained skies and sunsets of the western coast. Stretched within the northeast corner of the Salt Lake Valley, the town is full of beautiful architecture and surrounded by breathtaking nature on all sides. The Great Salt Lake to the northwest and the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountain ranges on its eastern and southwestern borders. February 2nd and 3rd, (2018) found our California freaks and their very own tribe descending on the city like the thundering hoofs of the Shoshone’s trustee steeds, who’s own shamanistic sun dance settled in the valley long before. This 2 part entry will cover both nights of this majestic run. A back to back vision quest set forth by the psychedelic sounds of the CRB in full fluid flight, captured in time by the 2 almost unbelievable Ravens Reels linked below.
The many cosmic syntheses that exist around a multi-night run such as this, are as varied and relative as the transient projections that make up our daily dimensional world. Every element just as important to the trip we are taking, together, as the other. A network of people, substances, art and song, combining to provide a reprieve or amnesty through temporary amnesia to the things we left behind when we entered the show. Sometimes those outside forces try to tag along and ride out the coming acoustic storm. But, if that were the case for anyone on the first night, it didn’t take long for those unwanted adjustments to lose their grip and go sailing off into the vapors. The opening tear in our fabric of time, I’m Ready and Turnstiles made sure of that. And If our human mind was still harboring any worldly hang ups, New Cannonball quickly steamrolled those out of existence. The “If You Lived Here….” rag has become another exciting setlist staple and often showcases a furious jam depending on its placement and flow. Here the expansion starts around the 7 minute mark with Adam turning both the venue and everyone in attendance inside out. CR providing a series of powerful almost ominous chord bursts that further the momentum.
California Hymn follows on a big Jeff Hill bassline and keeps the revelry right on the edge for the first 5 minutes. Tony starts to rumble through his floor toms and delivers a series of neck shattering snare cracks that allow it to peak and then settle back into a bluesy, psych laced piano passage. Neal and CR take a few laps around the room as their now signature, combined guitar sound leads the band through the always welcome churn and get down exploration of Beggars Moon. A composite of New Orleans style overboard excess that leads nicely into the fitting 7 day, 7 night right of passage framed High Is Not The Top. The shifting skyline set of Clear Blue glides effortlessly between its faithful country twang and Neal’s almost subsurface, liquid like leads. Stomping into double-time and blasting into the jam heavy outro stretch like a rolling rocket, banking into orbit as it jettisons it’s now unneeded weight. Even without the knowledge and setlist roadmap at hand, this was one of those graphs of ground where you could just sense something big coming.
A current was building. You could feel it inside every note, encouraging us to active our imagination machines and enter Sunday Sound with our minds and ears both open and observant. One of the biggest and most ferocious any freak could hope for followed. At over 19 minutes, it’s given plenty of room to breathe fire and glow. As most are, this one is an awe inspiring showcase for our Wizard as he dances across the keys, shifting gears at every turn. The sound of the motherships approach begins broadcasting to the free freak minds out front around the 6 minute marker. A beautiful piano passage is the first signal this is a peaceful race we feel and see descending from the celestial canvas above. It’s a shape shifting stretch with Tony and Adam locked together in musical telepathy and strapped to this galaxy fairing vessel. Trading struts and accentuated jabs as minors and majors mix with a high hat sizzling like your brain on CRB. The build is subtle at times but so powerful at its peak that it dares your soul to drift or try and defy your limbs desire to dance. Sometime after the 12 minute mark Jeff joins the madness and the seance of sound starts to push our conscious limits so far that we have no choice but to let go, setting ourselves free in return. Our bodies turning to wax, melting through the floor, all joining to form one continuous groove of smiling, blissful boogie. And when CR leads everyone back for the big finish we are literally “coming up for air” together. Taking hits from the same apparatus of love into the setbreak.
The Stones loving cup opens the second and rips away any lid or layer that could have possibly cooled over top during the break. The SLC crowd now howling with delight at the attack. Showing no signs of contentment and in the context of the night, our cup was now clearly overflowing with a color wheel of drips and buzz. Venus In Chrome is always a showcase for CR’s uncanny phrasing and ability to blend it seamlessly with the bands harmony and musical mastery. A groovy exercise in everything we love about the quintet. Cinematic is a word often used to describe this catalog of songs shining across the Unicorn California landscape and from the very first notes, 100 Days conjures scenes of love, longing and all that fills the travel and time between. From somewhere inside the lyrics, Neal and CR produce dueling leads that seem to pull forth every unwritten word and feeling as the band unites to build a world worth exploring well beyond the 9 minutes and 45 seconds of scenery we are blessed with here.
Never Been To Spain sets every tapping toe in perpetual motion for a three song stretch that’s a masterclass in the art of getting up and getting down. This Tony Joe White classic is grouped with the whiplash, Dylan-esque tongue of Hark The Herald Hermit Speaks and the high speed boogie and burn of Behold The Seer. The later of which continues to provide a pedestal for a razor sharp and continuously growing jam that is consistently both a set highlight and as it is here, a springboard into a set closing extraterrestrial stretch. To me, the most emotive and atmospheric song in the bands bag is Burn Slow. It seems to always emit that letter home vibe, postmarked from some far away planetary control office. If music is our guide, the band is the hands. Always leading the lost, safely, with eyes closed through star-fields and wicked winds. The architects of our ascension toward memories of the future and mornings of the magicians. Burn Slow can unlock almost anything depending on your own third eye focus. Here it’s a bridge between the scorching Seer and CR’s growling opening guitar blasts in the extraterrestrial blues of Got Love If You Want it. The band explodes into this rave up set closer, taking us further into the province of the mind where we continue to prove, there are truly no limits. Positively 4th Street rises in the encore spot, taking wing with a Byrds like ease and a Garcia Band rhythmic roll. Capping off this first night of the run in style yet still leaving us all wanting nothing but more, more, more.
On the fence? Check out our gallery for the show here:
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