Tag Archives: Scott Murawski


Mike Gordon Dazzles Brooklyn Steel with Two Sets on Saturday Night

March 12th, 2018

Mike Gordon – Brooklyn Steel – March 10, 2018

Photos courtesy of Dan Salimbene | northfieldproductions.com

A happy byproduct of Phish’s now-nine-year 3.0 incarnation is that the mighty band’s resurgence has left enough creative fuel in the tank to support other projects too. Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman have all been busy—or will be, as the case may be—with non-Phish projects, but the band that really became a band in this era is Mike Gordon’s group, which played two sparkly weird and high-energy sets Saturday night at Brooklyn Steel. His solo compositions tend to step up to and peer down the rabbit hole, just short of falling down it. They’re a little—OK, a lot—quirky and often free associative, but they’re not often big, psychedelic, nebulous maybe-statements so much as they’re left-of-center pop and indie-rock tunes, delivered compactly.

OGOGO, which arrived last fall as his fifth solo album, has some angst to even out its breezier, groovier tracks. Gordon doesn’t mind things a little heavy—he’s a bass player after all, and not a shy one—and it comes through in tunes like “Victim,” “Crazy Sometimes,” “Marissa” and “Steps,” without weighing down their bendy, bug-eyed cool. Live, however, is when these tunes come delivered with some muscle—sinewy jams that pull at their already loose edges and drive the band into downright Phish-y territory at times, and into Brooklyn-y indie-rock crew with a synth-guitar-jamming jones in others. Almost every tune Saturday landed at that balance, from the opening “Victim” and an audience-participation oddity called “Trapezoidal Sunshine” to crowd-stoking versions of Phish’s “Destiny Unbound,” Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” and, in a nicely explored veer into left field, Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream.”

The band is the not-so-secret ace, and Gordon’s been telling us that all along. He yields often to guitarist, singer and longtime partner-in-crime Scott Murawski (still going strong in Max Creek and other bands) and/or to keyboard professor Robert Walter, who picks his spots in this band and, among other highlights, turned the first set’s “Got to Be More Careful” into a showcase of whirling organ. And that’s before you get to the drums-and-percussion corps—John Morgan Kimock and Craig Myers—who have a lot of firepower between them and, you soon come to realize, are asked for all of it in the span of a Gordon show. Each was doing his thing and doing it well, all night, and in the end of the first set came “Tiny Little World,” about as good a capture of what Mike Gordon’s band sounds like these days. All the parts working, Gordon at the center playing stabbing bass, singing about how “nothing’s making sense/ So I shake and make it saucy.” It’s a fun world to visit. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson


With a Revamped Band, Mike Gordon Goes over the Top at Cap

June 29th, 2015

Mike Gordon – Capitol Theatre – June 27, 2015

With much of the jam world’s eyes focused on Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday night, a Mike Gordon show at the Capitol Theatre somehow felt a little bit under the radar, if that’s possible. Returning to the historic venue for the first time since Phish played there in 1992, Gordon and his revamped band gave the jubilant crowd plenty to keep them occupied with two stellar sets of jam-friendly music. After a warm-up opening of “Long Black Line,” the bassist led the band through a highlight-reel first set featuring standout versions of Gordon originals “Andelman’s Yard” and “Horizon Line,” the Phish rarity “Spock’s Brain” and two covers turned inside out. With the addition of Robert Walter on keyboards and John Morgan Kimock on drums, the band felt less like a spin-off side project and more like a high-quality jam-band hybrid: Walter utilizing his innate sense of the groove to get the crowd dancing, Kimock adding a daring ability to both follow and lead through uncharted passageways, Scott Murawski displaying a veteran hand on lead guitar and Gordon adding his unique Mike Gordon–ness to the low end.

While the Cap’s standard light projections often keep the crowd staring at the walls, Gordon’s stage production was an immersive trip on its own, perfectly enhancing the music. While the band took left turn upon left turn in “Andelman’s,” the lights paired colors in equally interesting combinations. During a space-funk version of Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream,” a geometry lesson of shapes illuminated the band, adding cosmic effects while the audience’s front row played sound effects on a giant interactive “keyboard” at the front of the stage. When the band seemed to hit a particularly ecstatic climax in a jam, LEDs in Murawski’s and Gordon’s guitars lit up like the metaphoric light bulb signaling a Eureka! moment inside your mind. Toward the end of the first set, Gordon took his group and audience deep into the Flaming Lips’ “Are You a Hypnotist?” while tie-dyed fractal tunnels appeared on the backdrops, providing a mass hallucination just in case.

After a short break, Gordon and company returned for a second set that opened with a dark “Surface” and followed a set-list script but seemed to spend more time meandering and exploring through high-level jamming. The band flexed their collective muscles through multiple levels of improv, awakening all sorts of ghosts in the Cap’s walls. Late in the evening, Luke Temple made a surprise appearance, adding indie credentials by singing along to Gordon’s cover of his Here We Go Magic tune “How Do I Know,” which pushed the show over the top, if it truly needed the extra boost. Temple returned during the encore for his “Make Up Your Mind,” Gordon and Co. perfectly at ease playing backing band, adding a groovy oomph and maybe helping earn a few new Here We Go Magic fans along the way. The night-ending “Sugar Shack” felt superfluous after the preceding show, but Murawski’s lighthearted playing provided a welcome return to ground for the crowd.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo



A Band with Infinite Possibilities

March 23rd, 2011

Mike Gordon – Brooklyn Bowl – March 22, 2011

Mike Gordon - Brooklyn Bowl - March 22, 2011
Cross-breeding genres without a care and inserting long, noodling jams everywhere, Mike Gordon and his guitarist Scott Murawski, another stalwart from the old days of jam yore, filled two long sets at Brooklyn Bowl Tuesday night with original music and inventive takes on other people’s tunes. The first set opened with “Idea” and already the template was struck: asymmetric pop songs, odd-meter rhythms, quirky lyrics and a band talented enough to create infinite possibilities with the material. Like most of the songs played, it had lengthy keyboard and guitar solos, returning to the chorus before launching into a final coda jam led by Gordon’s electrifying bass. Murawski was like a jam-band compendium from the old days of the type, ably channeling Trey Anastasio, Dickey Betts, Jimmy Herring and Carlos Santana depending on what the songs called for. Standout versions of originals “Sugar Shack” and “Can’t Stand Still” and perfectly executed covers of the blues-bluegrass “Walls of Time,” Beck’s “Black Tambourine” and Talking Heads’ “Cities” proved throughout the first set that Gordon truly believes that more is more and also proved that he is correct.

The second set allowed things to get even weirder and more luxuriously self-indulgent. Long spaced-out sections showed the band to be in well-tuned form, with all the musicians locked into grooves that had the audience bouncing. Gordon led the way with effects-laden bass playing that was somehow both bandleader and sideman. A bizarro dance contest was held onstage as the band played “The Void,” a song in 7/4 time. Like all good jamsters, Gordon saved his best for last, wowing the Bowl with a lengthy closing “Suskind Hotel” that segued nicely into “La La La” before going back into “Suskind.” Those in the crowd had been calling for their desired playlist all night, and most were rewarded when they returned for a great version of “Meat,” which found Gordon as phenomenal on his instrument as ever. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Michael Jurick | music.jurick.net