Review: Gov’t Mule Listening Party @ Brooklyn Bowl, NYC 9/30/09

Our friend Alex Borsody went to the Gov’t Mule listening party at the Brooklyn Bowl and did this review for us. His friend Rob Chapman took some amazing photos…

The Wetlands Preserve served as the springboard for some of the best bands during the mid 90’s rock renaissance. Peter Shapiro ran the Wetlands at just 23 years old and he is now the founder of Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. The place is truly unique from other Williamsburg venues and should bring a new variety of music to the area. The whole building is L.E.E.D certified and all electricity comes via wind generation. The stage is made out of recycled tires and there are no bottles or cans used at all. Of course there is also bowling and the fried chicken is actually pretty good according to this hypocritical vegetarian.

Gov’t Mule played to a fraction of the crowd they would usually perform for, in celebration of the release of their first album in three years By a Thread. The energy was, in a word…nostalgic, with hindsight always being 20/20.

The 90’s music scene was not only a renaissance for jambands and alternative rock, but the beginning of the modern American music festival, with the H.O.R.D.E tour and it’s alt-rock counterpart Lollapalooza. Along with the bands that hit the jackpot like Dave Mathew’s Band and Blues Traveler, the era nurtured hundreds of other great improvisational rock groups. Government Mule was one of these bands, and they had come back triumphant to pay their respects to the new venue.

Gov’t Mule was originally formed as a power rock trio by Warren Haynes, Matt Abts and bassist Allen Woody. Woody’s untimely death eventually ended up with Andy Hess the former bassist for the Black Crowes being chosen to fill his big shoes. The addition of Danny Louis on keyboards made the group a quartet. This past year Hess left the band to be replaced by a relatively unknown bass player, Jorgen Carlsson. By a Thread is the first album with Carlsson playing on it. The band sounds different but in a good way, the drum and bass have a very close connection with a tight sound.

Mule opened the set with “Broke Down on the Brazos,” the opening track off their new album which features Billy Gibbons of ZZ top. The song uses blues clichés while at the same time expanding beyond them. This is Gov’t Mules signature style. For this song and most of the night, Haynes was playing a reissue of Duane Allman’s Tobacco Sunburst Les Paul. Haynes also used a Diaz CD-100 amp with various pedals. Jorgen Carlsson had about four MIDI interfaces plugged into his keyboard and the P.A. equipment had Allman Brothers Band markings it. Haynes broke out the electric twelve-string guitar on “Railroad Blues,” playing in the slow hand, slide guitar style. The only cover of the night included Alice Cooper’s “Is It My Body?.” They closed with one of their more often played tunes “Thorazine Shuffle.”

The first 50 minute set was about half of what the band usually plays. They went off stage, had a group huddle, and came back with a cake to wish Carlsson and Matt Abts a happy birthday. You could feel the family vibe in the room. The band then played a 20 minute encore, with a cathartic version of “Inside Outside Woman Blues,” another song off of By a Thread.

Haynes is often called the hardest working many in show business and has earned that title. He not only produces the music festival Mountain Jam but also plays lead for The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule. The man knows how to put on a party thick with southern hospitality. After this jam, even the Williamsburg music snobs in the room couldn’t help but want to listen to an epic 30 minute long “Whipping Post.”

Broke Down On The Brazos
Railroad Boy
Monday Mourning Meltdown
Frozen Fear
Beautifully Broken
Is It My Body
Brighter Days
Thorazine Shuffle

Any Open Window
Inside Outside Woman Blues

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