Mike Guzaski went to the Bustle in your Hedgerow show on 8/6/06 at the Abbey Pub in Chicago — one of the last chances to celebrate Lollapalooza weekend in Chicago — and sent us a review. Feel free to send us your own and maybe we’ll use it (with proper credit always given).
First off, let me say I am a huge fan of the Duo — have seen Bustle last year at the Subterranean post Wicker Park Fest — and probably was spoiled considering.
Scott Metzger became a legend that night from my relatively obscure knowledge of him. The way he could thread the needles that Marco and Russo throw out and neatly mesh the Zeppelin sound, and then just when you expect a ripping solo, he stands and delivers. Marco definitely has a much more pronounced presence than a typical keyboard player, but while playing Zeppelin he drops the bass in lieu of Dave from Ween, but picks up vocals and guitar. Not seeing Scott Metzger or the Bustle Experience before, I had expectations based on reviews – but nothing prepared me for the Subterranean and its tiny little venue, roaring sound and impacted eardrums. From that day forward, Scott Metzger became a much more distinguishable face in the crowd when skimming web reviews and downloads. The 7/31/05 show remains one of my favorite concert experiences.
That said, let me also preface this by saying I have a great appreciation for Brendan Bayliss. My first Umphrey’s show was the original lineup opening at Brother Jimmy’s 5/18/00. My appreciation only grew when they opened for Deep Banana Blackout at Martyr’s, 7/21/00. Then was introduced to UM with Jake on 6/02/01 at the best UM shows I have ever seen – circa when they grew big quick. But, he was the guitar I was used to and the sound I identified as guitar for UM. His tone and texture is very well meshed with a band, he feels very comfortable with them, hell he formed them. I have run into him on a blacktop BB court, in Jewel, and a few other places, and I really think he is a down to earth guy that will always be on the level with his fans. I have also seen his guest stand-ins with the Disco Biscuits, Fareed, moe., even Hack N’ Wheeze.
But I did not see Brendan step into the spaces created by the Duo and Dave that Sunday night, given many, many opportunities otherwise. I seriously think he was feeling very conscious of not stepping on toes, not interfering, and not being the center…but this was ZEPPELIN!!!! Marco has a great Zeppelin sound, but the guitar needs to be the focal point. Again, unfair, but my opinion was marred by the Scott Metzger led show.
So after about 3 songs in, they bring out a guy that used to be a guitar tech for Zappa to come out and shred Immigrant Song. the ending climax had him jamming and trying to entice Bayliss into actually leading and trading some solo licks, but he never really took the bait, and the song then just kind of ended. A few songs later, maybe the next one, they bring out this mic stand, and this little girl comes out who I heard was 17, and she starts strumming “Travelling Riverside Blues.” Then not only does she play it, she destroys the end, steps out onto the end of the stage and rips some super tension jamming that had the place going crazy. I fell in love. So then Bayliss comes back out, and just seemed to play the same (as the rest of the night). Russo especially was really trying to get him going, at one point (I think during Moby Dick) standing up and playing high hats for him to lead off of, and then jokingly taunting him, “Brendan PLAY! PLAY Brendan! Brendan PLAY!”. I thought this was kind of Joe’s comedic and sarcastic reference to the Zappa dude (Mike Kinnealey) trying to egg Brendan into trading solos. But the point is that he never really took the lead, at this point already one song into the second set. He did however get into a nice ambient groove jam during one segment that definitely was reminiscent of what he lends to UM which I am determined to find on the show once I get the DL. Finally, during one song I cannot even remember which it was, Russo who’s been milking a bottle of Maker’s on stage, comes over the Brendan while playing, and starts pouring it down his throat mid jam. From here on he played with a little more of an edge, and won back some attention, but the real show was Marco and Russo and their perpetual energy.
Now to the part of the evening that I thought was a bit unprofessional…
Mike and Joe’s buddy Jake, who introduced them, told the story of how he had requested the first Bustle, a birthday party for him that they played a single set of Zeppelin. Since, it has turned into a recurring performance, and led to them bringing it to Chicago last year. Throughout the evening, he was on stage, taking pictures, side stepping band members going back and forth behind the drum kit and Dave, etc. etc. His presence was always somewhat noticeable. But at the end of the evening, 1:45am, where I thought they still had an encore left in them, he steps to the front of the stage with Joe Russo and their Maker friend and says, “We’re gonna go back stage, do some cocaine and all get LAID!!!”. Russo and he quickly walk off stage, and he quickly comes out the side stage door, and walks through the crowd straight outside. The crowd is pumped, yelling one more song. The lights come on, and the PA says, “It’s been a long weekend guys. Go home safely”, while the techs come out and shut down the equipment. This ending seemed rather abrupt and quick. I have since got comments back from Marc Allan from Duo management and Leif Moravy of Silver Wrapper talking about the incident; the responses to my inquiries are slightly different. Marc said 1:45 was their cut off time (expanded from 1:30), and Leif says they shared in the disappointing ending, but the situation is difficult to deal with because the guy is such a close friend with the band.
So will I see them again, undoubtedly, but Brendan just didn’t see like the best natural choice to equal my experience from last year. Shame on me for going in with such high hopes – I always get burned. It is still definitely worthy of a download. To add insult to injury, the Particle bass player Gould took my cab on Addison/Elston, and then Kris Meyers took the next one. But I did have a belly full of White Castles to walk off…
1. Song Remains the Same*, Ramble On, Immigrant Song $, What is and What Should Never Be, Travelling Riverside %, Four Stix, Bring it Back Home
2. Moby Dick, Over the Hills and Far Away, Fool in the Rain&*, Heartbreaker, All of My Love, Good Times Bad Times > How Many More Times*, The Ocean
$. Mike Freely on Guitar
%. Sarah Zimmerman of Philadelphia school of rock (you tube of her)
& Marco jumped off stage to play a piano (Wurlitzer maybe said other benji)
* Bayliss Vox
All other songs were instrumental, with mostly Marco playing the melody.