Thursday, May 13, 2010

Porcupine Tree review, Dominion RiverRock Fest, Grace Potter, Robert Randolph

The big Dominion RiverRock Festival weekend is here.  Grace Potter, Robert Randolph, soaring kayaks, flipping bikes, muddy runners and flying dogs.  But before we get to that, a quick review of the Porcupine Tree show.

Tuesday night at the National, rising progressive rock band, Porcupine Tree, played to an almost full house.  In their music, you could hear the entire history of prog rock, from Yes, Rush & Floyd to Tool & Nine Inch Nails.  This is a very precise band, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steven Wilson, and featuring excellent musicianship from all the players.  This is a band that opens the show by playing the entire song cycle, "The Incident", which takes up the first CD of their latest release of the same name.  "The Incident" is highlighted by its 12 minute centerpiece, "Time Flies".  This is a band that uses arty videos to enhance the songs.  This is a band which I will definitely see again and will explore more of their alternately ambient and rocking music.

The opener for the show was BigElf, a band from LA that unashamedly plays 70s epic stoner metal, a la Deep Purple/Black Sabbath.  (They even played a little bit of Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" by request before saying, "F**k 'Sweet Leaf'.  We don't have enough time.  We'll play it for you when we come back as a headliner."  It wasn't snotty though, it was pretty funny.)  They were a rocking blast, led by their scarecrow in a top hat lead singer/keyboarist, Damon Fox, and guitarist Ace Mark.  Damon Fox was very entertainig to watch as he was flanked by his vintage keyboards playing one with each hand, wailing like Dio or Ian Gillan.

Onto RiverRock.  Here is the entire schedule, then more on the musical headliners.

Friday, May 14


4 - 6pm: Event registration and athlete check-in

4 - 8pm: Vendor booths and interactive village open

6 - 7 p.m Filthy 5K Mud Run

6 - 7pm: Freestyle Bikes (Best Trick Qualifying)

6 - 7:30pm: Red Bull Canal Crashers (Qualifying)

6 - 7:30pm: Ultimate Air Dogs (Qualifying)

7 - 8pm: Freestyle Bikes (Best Trick Finals)

7:30 - 8pm: Ultimate Air Dogs (Catch It Finals)


6pm: Free Concert - The Congress

7:40pm: Free Concert - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

Saturday, May 15


1 - 6pm: Event registration and athlete check-in

3 - 9pm: Vendor booths and interactive village open

3 - 6pm: Ultimate Air Dogs (Qualifying)

4 - 5:30p.m. Urban Assault Mountain Bike Race

4 - 6pm: Kayak Boatercross

5 - 6:30p.m. James River Scramble 10k Trail Run

6 - 7:30p.m. Ultimate Air Dogs (Fetch It Finals)

6:30 -7:30p.m. Freestyle Bikes (Slopestyle Qualifying)

7 - 8pm: Red Bull Canal Crashers (Finals)

7:30 - 8p.m. Ultimate Air Dogs (Finals)

7:30 -8:30p.m. Freestyle Bikes (Slopestyle Finals)


4pm: Free Concert - Beast Wellington

5:30pm: Free Concert - Antero

7:30pm: Free Concert - Farm Vegas

9pm: Free Concert - Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Don't miss the Ultimate Air Dogs.  This is a very entertaining event and the kids love it.  A lot of the kids like to gather at the end of the pool, hoping a dog will jump far enough and make a big enough splash so they get wet. 

As for the music, Friday night is Grace Potter & The Nocturnals with their blues/classic rock.  If you like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bonnie Raitt, or Janis Joplin, you won't want to miss them.  They were recently named one of Rolling Stone magazine's Top Bands to Watch of 2010 and they seem to making a big promo push for their new self-titled album.  They may be on the cusp of moving to the next level, so you may not get another chance to see them for free.  Here is their new single, "Tiny Light".

As an added bonus, here they are doing an acoustic version of their song, "Paris", in their hotel room last week:

Saturday night, blues/funk/gospel band, Robert Randolph & The Family Band will take the stage. I have not stated this since Stevie Ray Vaughn died and I do not say this lightly. Robert Randolph is the best guitarist I have seen since SRV died. You will be picking your jaw up off of the Brown's Island turf at least once during this show as you watch him wail on pedal steel guitar in between all the dancing you'll be doing. The band has a new album out called "We Walk This Road" so I'm sure we'll hear a few cuts off of that. If anyone is going, let's hook up because right now, I'm flying solo as this one starts too late (9 PM) to bring the kids. For those of you who know how to reach me, you know how to reach me. Here is the link (embedding is disabled) to his latest single, "Going In the Right Direction": click HERE.

When you aren't at the RiverRock Fest this weekend, you can check out the free webcast from the first Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, AL on iClips.  They haven't posted the schedule for the webcast yet but the festival starts at 12:15 PM Friday through Sunday so go to the iClips site then and see what's going on.  (UPDATE: 12:16 PM, FRIDAY:  The webcast starts at 4:30 PM on Friday & Saturday, and 4 PM on Sunday.  The direct link to the webcast is HERE.)  Here is who I hope they show.  Friday: Brett Dennen, North Mississippi Allstarts Duo, Robert Randolph, Black Crowes (tix go on sale this Friday at 10 AM for their show at the National on Nov 16), Girl Talk.  Saturday: A.A. Bondy, Ozomatli, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (playing at 2:30 PM after playing for us till 9 PM or later the night before.  Ah, the glamorous rock & roll lifestyle.  Hope they get some sleep on the bus or plane.), Funky Meters, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Roots, John Legend.  Sunday: Blind Boys of Alabama, Michael Franti & Spearhead (just announced a show at The National on August 29), Guster, Ben Harper & Relentless 7, Ray Lamontagne, Trey Anastasio & TAB.

A couple other shows of note:

Southern Culture on the Skids with The Hotdamns & Hamburger James at Plaza Bowl on Friday night.  Show starts at 8, tix are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.  SCOTS play crazy, white trash, rockabilly. 

Elizabeth Cook at Ashland Coffee & Tea on Wednesday night.  The show will start at 8 PM, tix are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  Here's the blurb from the Ashland Coffee & Tea website: "Elizabeth Cook made her Grand Ole Opry debut on March 17, 2000, appearing repeatedly thereafter — a remarkable achievement considering that, at the time, she was an indie artist with no radio airplay. But such was the excitement generated by her clear, beautiful voice, strong songwriting ability, and live performances, all of which have drawn comparisons to younger, critically respected artists like Kelly Willis and legends such as Dolly Parton. Nanci Griffith has called her ”this generation’s Loretta Lynn”."

Alright, I'll leave you with this from the College Humor web site.  Its the ad for "Every Summer Music Festival You've Ever Been To".

Have a great weekend.  See you at RiverRock Fest.

Tony Jordan