(Photo by Scott Van Velsor)
June 10, 2007
The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA.
Better than: Bursting into flames from a mid-summer lightning strike.
While Page McConnell -- the spastic and highly skilled keyboardist from Phish -- at the Fillmore was probably what filled the joint, groovy happenings occurred pre-show upstairs in the poster room and on-stage with the opening act.
This is not to say that Mr. McConnell's band couldn't bring on the funk. Quite the contrary, what started out as a backwoods folk love song would unfailingly trend into dueling keyboardists or true jamminess and improv fests on the guitar. It seemed like the initial song was an excuse to let rip with the musician’s skill set.
The crowd was a mixed bag of jam band enthusiasts, grey-haired ponytails, cute hippy girls and outdoor music fans intent on continuing their Sierra Nevada experience. The place wasn't packed, hell it's a Tuesday and the Fillmore holds 1200. But like the happy and honestly welcoming doorman at the top of the mirrored stairs told me, less is better.
The opener was a local dude named Garren Benfield, and judging from the crowd and talking with one of his fans, he's done cut his teeth in the underground and is about to come roaring out of the depths of obscurity with a full grill and a stack of looper pedals. His music gets some withering bass background from slapping the face of his piezoelectric guitar and his subtle social criticism packed into a very special kind of grooviness lit up the dancing early birdies.
Upstairs in the poster room where the walls are covered with framed and famed past performers dating back to the 60s played another local artist and looper Roy McNeill. His veritable mound of electronic toys and guitars kept the vibe nice and leather lounge-like and was a great way to spend a set break, chillin' over a sapphire tonic.
Personal Bias: Keyboards, funk and dancing girls all swirled up in the beautiful blender that is the Fillmore
Random Detail: One of the bouncers is a trip hop Drum & Bass DJ that likes to mix in early 90s East Coast hip hop. More on him another time.
By the way: The 12 dollar vegan nachos upstairs are almost worth it if you eat them before the cheese hardens.
--Scott Van Velsor