This summer, Phish is bringing it back home to NYC to play an enormous 13 night run spanning three weekends at Madison Square Garden. When they come to dominate, for the first time in the summer, at this venue that has historically hosted most of their NYE runs, this unprecedented run will be a glorious new chapter in a place that Phish and their phans can definitely call home.
In a way most certainly reflective of The Grateful Dead, Phish are like an elder counsel for the resurgence of the jamband scene over the last couple decades. Their unmatched canon of live performances, which obviously rage on today, also eventually became, arguably, the jumping off of inspiration for a new generation of improvisationally innovative bands.
It makes sense then, that when they storm through Manhattan this Summer, there will be a hotbed of musical activity in the area, with a whole list of pre- and post-Phish sets scheduled to happen at some of NYC’s best music venues. From jam scene favorites, to savory collaborations, to all-star tributes, one thing is for certain: NYC from late July to early August will be electric with energy.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best shows going down for the Baker’s Dozen After Party:
TWIDDLE: JULY 20, 21, AND 22 @ IRVING PLAZA
No matter your stance, it’s hard to deny that Twiddle is riding high on the waves of today’s music scene. This has been solidified in ten years of playing, multiple studio albums, two separate yearly musical events to host, and collaborations with many, huge contemporaries across genres. The collaborations will be a part of the after-party fun when Twiddle kicks things off with three nights at Irving Plaza on July 20, 21, and 22. The first of these evenings is not an official Phish after-party, but is still highly recommended, as they will be joined by fellow Vermont rockers Madaila, who will both open for Twiddle and perform with them for a special “Twidaila” set. On the following night, Twiddle will rock out with the legendary Giant Country Horns, and sitting in on night three will be teen guitar prodigy Brandon ‘TAZ’ Niederauer.
THE WERKS: JULY 21 AND 22 @ AMERICAN BEAUTY
Also heading off the top of Phish’s historic three weeks in NYC will be jam scene regulars The Werks, bringing two shows to American Beauty on July 21 and 22. As clear from their annually hosted musical event, Thornville, Ohio’s The Werk Out Festival, The Werks have cemented a beloved following for themselves as a wonderfully weird brand of groove jam, a following that continues to grow strong. So come July, the four piece will be in prime shape for raging with pumped up Phish fans.
THE MOTET: JULY 21 @ B.B. KING BLUES CLUB
For almost twenty years now, The Motet has remained a leading force in the modern funk revival, and after all this time, they have only grown stronger and groovier as a live act. In the beginning of last year, the band took on the dynamic Lyle Divinsky to sing lead as the newest member of their funk family, and the pairing has made for many of their most exciting shows to date. Fusing their sound with everything from disco to afrobeat to jazz, The Motet is one of the freshest takes on funk you’ll hear today, and their set following Phish is sure to keep everybody dancing well into the morning!
CIRCLES AROUND THE SUN: JULY 22 @ GRAMERCY THEATRE (LATE SHOW) AND JULY 23 @ THE BROOKLYN BOWL (EARLY SHOW)
2015 brought us Fare Thee Well, but it also brought us just about one of the coolest musical projects to hit the world in the last couple of years, Circles Around The Sun. Created and fronted by Chris Robinson Brotherhood guitarist Neal Casal, CATS works in stellar, feel-good grooves and commands pure improvisational prowess, making for truly one of a kind sets of music–of which since their inception there has only been a small handful, so this NYC gig will be a rare appearance! Paired with a night of Phish, this should make for a particularly cosmic evening of rock n roll.What’s more, this week, the band announced that on July 23, the morning after their late-night set, they will now be playing a pre-party performance at The Brooklyn Bowl, at 2:30 p.m.
TURKUAZ: JULY 25 @ IRVING PLAZA
Who better to funk up Irving Plaza after Phish than Brooklyn’s own nine-piece, jam-funk machine, Turkuaz? Born and bred on these city grounds, the limitlessly skilled members of Turkuaz represent the very soul and spirit this musical haven has cultivated over the years. Since their inception, though, they have truly blossomed in their own right as one of the most dynamic acts on the live music scene today, hitting major festivals and collaborating with pretty much everybody across the board today. And whenever they return to their Brooklyn homebase, it’s a horn-blaring, vocal-shredding, all-cylinders-firing, souled-out party like no other.
THE JAMES BROWN DANCE PARTY: JULY 28 @ HIGHLINE BALLROOM (EARLY AND LATE SHOWS)
Adam and Matthew Chase, who have been touring recently with their amazing project Jazz is Phish, lead a stacked lineup of musicians for the The James Brown Dance Party, including Binky Griptite of The Dap Kings, Trey Anastasio Band’s James Casey, Adam Dotson of Rubblebucket, Talib Kweli’s Chris Rob, Justin Stanton of Snarky Puppy, and Vulfpeck’s charismatic vocalist Antwaun Stanley. Lastly but not least of all, at the heart of the tribute are two original members of James Brown’s very own band, Fred Wesley and Fred Thomas. As a recently packed show at Garcia’s in Port Chester proved, an evening with this collection of musicians is a recipe for a damn good time. The band will play twice at Highline Ballroom, for both an early, pre-Phish set and a late-night, post-Phish one.
DOPAPOD: JULY 28 AND 29 @ GRAMERCY THEATRE
If, on July 28 or 29, Phish ends and you’re still looking to rage madly on into the night, head to the Gramercy Theatre to catch a couple of what are sure to be special sets from Boston jam heroes, Dopapod. They’ve been having a truly great year of shows, not least of all because their reunion with original drummer Neal “Fro” Evans has reignited an awesome chemistry on stage. Seriously heavy prog-rock material meets seriously refined musical chops from all four members, making for shows that are at once bombastic, funky, and ripe with in-the-moment improv. Their two-nights at Gramercy will be the definition of a throwdown.
PERPETUAL GROOVE: JULY 29 @ B.B. KING BLUES CLUB
It’s hard to believe that it was over twenty years ago that Perpetual Groove came into the musical world. In that time, the four piece from Athens, Georgia has carved out a unique musical niche, delivering a sublime mix of arena rock, psychedelic grooves and melodically rich songwriting. When they came back to the scene two years ago after a two-year hiatus, P-Groove’s return heralded a new and improved era of performance among their fans. If you’ve seen them in action lately, you know they’ve only been playing better and better since–and if you haven’t, hear for yourself on July 29 at B.B. Kings!
MATISYAHU: AUGUST 2 @ THE CUTTING ROOM
For a definitely unique follow up to a Phish show, Matisyahu will be stepping into the musical fray of NYC in July, with a late-night set at The Cutting Room on August 2. While known to be both a prolific lyricist and an improvisationally capable singer and beat-boxer, Matisyahu also fronts an adept group of musicians, who combine their collective background of roots-reggae with many other styles. Together with the enigmatic front man, they create live shows that are continually praised as uplifting and energetic.
ERIC KRASNO BAND w/ BRANDON “TAZ” NIEDERAUER BAND: AUGUST 4 @ THE CUTTING ROOM
Eric Krasno needs little, if any, introduction as one-of the most celebrated musicians on the NYC scene. Whether fronting Soulive, Lettuce, or collaborating with pretty much everybody in the business, the modern guitar guru is a welcome presence just about anywhere. Krasno will be hitting the late-night party on August 4 with his recently formed group, The Eric Krasno Band, whom have seen the release of a terrific debut album, Blood From a Stone, and a recent tour of highly praised live sets. Joining them will be youth guitar prodigy Brandon “Taz” Niederaeur and his band. At fourteen years old, Taz has already put in the hard work at making his mark on the music world, playing and mentored by giants like the late Butch Trucks and Col. Bruce Hampton, the latter of whom spent his last moments on stage, and in life, encouraging Taz to take a solo, and the spotlight, amongst a historic lineup of musicians. Most recently, the youngin’ has shined as one of the stars on the Broadway hit musical, School of Rock. Krasno and Taz have a developing history of playing together, such as shredding together at Bowlive last weekend, so the musical chemistry and benevolence will set the stage for a really special post-Phish show.
SPAFFORD: AUGUST 5 @ B.B KING BLUES CLUB
Sold out shows across the country, a full-length tour opening for Umphrey’s McGee, and spots at festivals like Summer Camp, Peach Fest, and Electric Forest–Arizona jamband Spafford have truly burst onto the scene in just their few short years together. With their personally dubbed brand of “electro funk therapy,” Spafford has already developed quite a reputable name for themselves as one of the hottest new jam acts going right now. They already have a very quickly growing, and heavily social media present, army of fans, dubbed the Spaffnerds. August 5 at B.B. Kings will be Spafford’s third post-Phish gig, the first two being a pair of fantastic late-night sets played at American Beauty after Phish’s MSG shows on 12/30/16 and 12/31/16.
The Poke Around hopes to see you in New York City!
Article by Miles Hurley