Albany-based jam quartet Formula 5 kicked off their fall tour this week, with a set at NYC’s American Beauty that showed signs of what should be a fantastic October-November run.
Among a busy year of sit-ins, cross country touring and plenty of festival sets, Formula 5 also released their newest studio album this past Spring, titled All Points North. The band’s shows over the last few months have definitely been displaying the live improvisational potential locked within some of these most recently recorded songs.
The American Beauty show on Wednesday night was a clear example of this. The band opened their jam-heavy, single set show with the album’s leading track, the upbeat “Come Along.” The band sped off fast from here, charging their way through “Trout Waters Pt. 1” an All Points North track that just happens to feature one of the coolest riffs around. The track’s pairing with the “Out of Water” jam grew into some fast funk to the point where it could peak at an unexpected, fun rip on Prince’s “1999.” The band only made it through one verse of this one, as the cover came within the nucleus of what was at this point some very tight but also spirited jamming.
Similarly, the last half of the show featured another such segment of extended exploration. “Cleaning Windows,” one of the band’s staple classic rock reworks, moved into “Blue,” an original from the band that displayed the breadth of their live cohesion as a four piece. With an upbeat catchiness that represents the approachability of a lot of Formula 5’s songwriting, this one was taken on a long, creative ride that mixed more subdued, cosmic moments with returning dashes of chromatic, passionate craziness from the band, propelled especially by some fluid rhythm work from drummer Greg Marek. The set closed on another, newer original called “Booher’s Pass,” which gave a final, uplifting push to end the first night of tour.
Opening for Formula 5 this night were NYC locals Polyvamp and Colorado jamband Cycles. Cycles, who will be joining Formula 5 for a number of their Fall dates, amped up the American Beauty crowd beforehand with a couple of raucous, high energy trance jams.
Formula 5 and Cycles next stop takes them to The Shaskeen Pub in Manchester, NH tonight, and tomorrow night to Nectar’s in Burlington, VT.
Written and photographed by Miles Hurley
10/18/17 — American Beauty — NYC, NY
Come Along > Trout Waters Pt 1 > Out of Water Jam > 1999+ > Trout Waters Pt 2, The Clear* > Cleaning Windows^ > Blue > Booher’s Pass
+ Prince cover, partial
^ Van Morrison cover