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Mike Gordon Starts New Tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 9th, 2009

Mike Gordon – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 8, 2009

(Photo: Danny Clinch)

(Photo: Danny Clinch)

In the Breakfast Club taxonomy of Phish, Mike Gordon is probably Anthony Michael Hall’s character—the underappreciated geek. But headlining his own band last night, Gordon quickly showed the sold-out crowd at Music Hall of Williamsburg that he can be both the beefy jock and the most popular kid in school. Mere seconds after plugging in his five-string Modulus, we were transported to an alternate universe where kids play air bass, not air guitar, and Gordo reigns.

Opening with a strong couplet from last year’s Green Sparrow, Gordon put on a pyrotechnic display of bass playing—juicy, otherworldly sounds that may very well cure baldness, halitosis and other ailments. Gordon’s off-center worldview, often obscured in the arena grandeur of Phish, took center stage on tunes like “Dig Further Down” and “Radar Blip.” The rest of the band was along for the ride, but watching Gordon was like viewing a far-off star through a telescope. Sure, it might be the sun to a bunch of planets, but it’s shining much too bright to tell or even care. Gordon’s gravity overwhelmed everything in the room.

A nice stretch of brand-new songs—this was the first show of the tour—was highlighted by a groovy shuffle that evoked the Sea and Cake in its melody and rhythms. While every song had a launching point and plenty of solos, it wasn’t until deep into the set that the box was unwrapped and the true jamming began, as quirky ditties became Dead-/Phish-/Allmans-style forays. Mid-jam, local legends Joe Russo and Marco Benevento hopped onstage, seamlessly inserting themselves on the drums and keys. This was a “Remember when it was your band? Now it’s our band now” style of sit-in with the Duo guiding a dance-y expedition of in-your-face free-form. The clock was well past midnight and the show two-plus hours strong before the audience finally returned to a reality where guitar players are kings and bass players toil in anonymity…or did they? —A. Stein