By Stu Kelly
Mike Gordon returned to D.C. with his solo band for the first time since March of 2014 and brought a collective mix from his various solo albums, a bevy of covers and his work with Phish. Gordon has always been a prolific solo artist, taking improvisation deep across the board and finding a fluid balance between what’s musically palatable and what’s just too weird for the average listener. The result is a musical journey that leaves fans captivated and coming back for more. The music itself is constantly taken to new musical heights on what can only be described as a unique musical adventure where the audience is not only being directed by the band, but also welcomed to steer the ship in their own way.
The last time Mike played in D.C., he was touring his renowned album, Overstep, at played an intimate show at the 9:30Club. This time around Mike stepped into the Lincoln Theatre for a different atmosphere and played to a slightly larger audience. One of the things that makes Mike’s solo shows work so well is his undeniable affection and musical compatibility with guitarist Scott Murawski. The band seems incredibly comfortable and Murawski acts as a safety net for when Gordon wants to push the band and the crowd outside of their comfort zone.
Music started just after 8 p.m. and the band opened up with “Voices” off The Green Sparrow which found its way into “The Field,” a Max Creek cover (a band featuring Murawski) before “The Grid” a tune from Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke’s repertoire. The first Phish song of the night made an early appearance with “Waking Up Dead” before “Check Your Pepper,” a new song to Mike’s solo catalog. A stellar version of “Jumping” closed out the first set and it was nice to see Mike tap Overstep once again.
After a quick set break, “Face” got the crowd locked into a nice groove, as this is one of Mike’s most played off Overstep. Mike opted to dip back into Phish’s catalog with Fuego’s “555” featuring some beautiful work from Murawski. “Different World” filled the gap nicely before another Max Creek cover surfaced with “Just a Rose.” Gordon and company dipped into Mac DeMarco’s catalog as they laid down a funky version of “Let Her Go.” The second set closed with “Dig Further Down” > “How Many People Are You” leaving the crowd more than satisfied. As the band returned to the stage and took their marks, the rare Phish song “Meat” came thundering through the speakers and even included a “Check Your Pepper” reprise.
After the show Mike hung out at the merch table joking with fans, signing vinyl, posters and CD’s and reminiscing about his work earlier this year with Phish and his solo band’s current tour. After the show Mike and Scott hit up Ben’s Chili Bowl and jammed to Sam Cooke on the radio. A perfect way to wrap up a late night evening in D.C. Mike will continue his tour down south with shows in Nashville and Atlanta before capping it off with three nights in Cambridge, Massachusetts.