Live in Burlington, VT
Dec.13, 2014 • Higher Ground
By Ted Kammerer
So here I was on this bleak, blustery Saturday night, the night of Soulive, coming down with a cold and feeling like I had crosshairs on my head after almost getting into four car accidents throughout the day (None of which were my fault, by the way– but I guess they never are).
Where I come from, the day leading up to a Soulive show is always a day of celebration. Usually, that day commences with a few choice beverages. Like the band itself, you need to keep it classy in this department. Irish coffees and hot whiskeys are preferable, but ain’t nobody gonna say a word against a mimosa. Segue into some IPA’s and whiskey sours, and you’re cookin’ come nightfall.
This Soulive day was different though: the several near death experiences, a general feeling of fatigue, and a burst pipe kept all of the friends away from the show. Except my good brotha Nick and I. The first (and second) rule of live music is: when Soulive is in town, you go. Even if only for a set. We abided.
Standing in line for the show, I was excited, giddy even, when the door to Higher Ground’s Ballroom swung open for one brief second to reveal Eric Krasno and Neal and Alan Evans jamming the stage. I NEVER FEEL GIDDY. I walked into the Ballroom and realized instantly I was in this show for the long haul. Something about these guys invoke an aura of a past era of music, a time when musicians punched out nightclub owners over shorted-wages and drinks while women smoked cigarettes in Cruella DeVille-esq filters and watched. And they make you get down. It’s jazzy, it’s funky, it’s soulful, it’s rock and roll. Krasno’s ferocious jazzman chops led over the rhythm of Alan Evan’s hi-hat-snare-spark-pitter-patter while his brother Neal holds down Ray Manzarek duties hammering the Hammond B3 while funking out bass-riffs on the keys at the same time. It creates this spectacle of pure musicianship and soul-on-display that’s hard to find in the jam scene today.
Soulive played through a lot of their staples like Turn It Out and One in Seven and even dusted off some fan favorites like the 20-minute mystical journey of Nubian Lady. They also did a fine job in paying homage to the greats by breathing new life and shredding the shit out of classic songs like Lenny, Third Stone From the Sun, and Eleanor Rigby. With this set, Krasno demonstrated why is one of the most underrated guitarists on the jam circuit today: showcasing his aggressive frontman, Hendrix-y licks while seamlessly stirring the jam cauldron into a swirl of relaxed grooves and reverberated textures reminiscent of John Scofield. He made a believer out of my boy Mitch that night, and let me tell you, Mitch doesn’t believe in just anyone. Soulive, ladies and gentlemen.