It was awesome. It was mainly acoustic instruments, but there was a little electric bass from Chris. They were mic’d and had a bass amp, but they had to.
I like the venue. You walk in and there’s a café where they had a no cover artist playing early. The will call went very smoothly, and I just had to give my name. They have a coat check, but they also had unreserved seats inside, so it didn’t really make sense.
When you walked into the space, first there is a bar on the left and some tables to the right. I think you can see the stage from the bar, as long as there isn’t a column in the way. They put a table to set drinks down in front of that one column, which was convenient. There are lots of removable, quite comfortable seats facing the stage going way back. The seating space is kind of rectangular, although there are also some seats in front of the bar area on the right side of the stage. The farthest seats look like they are way back, but I didn’t walk back there to see how it was. There is a also another table area that is up a step and to the left of the stage. That looked like a good spot to be.
I chose a great standing spot, kind of in front of the bar, just behind one seat and to the right of another. It was the closest and probably one of the best standing spots. I could see everything, and wouldn’t really get bumped much. The only problem was I was also close to the chatter. There wasn’t a lot of chatter back by the bar, but some people were talking and the sound really carries there. After a while I couldn’t take it and chose to move to one empty seat in the 7th row on the left. It was only about 10-15 feet from my prior spot, but it was easier to diffuse the chatter.
They had a food menu, with bar food and sandwiches. There weren’t many people eating, but it looked and smelled good, of what little I could tell. The drinks were the usual Manhattan prices. They had no bottled water, but the glass of tap water tasted good. They use all glasses and have some big bottled beer people can share.
Overall, I like the venue, I just wish the bar was outside of the performance space. The announcer did ask people to be quiet right before the 2nd set. That worked for a while, and it wasn’t that hard to tune out. I kind of expected more talkers.
The show was phenomenal. The sound is awesome! They started with something that seemed improvised, although I wasn’t quite sure at the end. Medeski was playing the strings inside the piano in a unique way. I love it when people do that, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him do it. It was awesome. I also started wondering why I never see Chris Wood listed at The Stone, when I’ve seen Billy Martin and John Medeski there. Why isn’t Chris ever on the improviser circuit? He just seems to do The Wood Brothers and that’s it. I would love to see him in other guises. It seemed kind of improvised, but then got more cohesive as it went on. They touched on a lot of genres with that piece, jazz, groove, out there. I was very happy I chose that show. I had been debating about trying to catch some of The Bad Plus at Bowery Ballroom, which I know I would have loved, but this seemed even more special.
After that, it seemed they were playing songs for the rest of the set. Who cares, whatever they did was awesome. They did some really funky cover when I was still standing, getting down, I mean. They would play a jazz tune now and then. Everything they did was stellar. This is such a great band. The first set was a little over an hour, like maybe 8:15-9:30 (probably a few minutes less).
The 2nd set started out very interesting. Medeski had his melodica hooked up to an interesting fan-type box that looked a little like a briefcase. I don’t know what else to say, but hopefully someone more knowledgeable will write about it somewhere. It sounded awesome. I think they were reading music for a good portion of that song.
There was also one piece during the 2nd set that was kind of avant-noiseish. I loved it.
Billy mainly had the drum kit and some bells and a just a few toys behind him. He did one incredibly intense solo that put me in heaven. He also did some awesome soloing at various points in one tune, kind of like jazz drummers do sometimes. But, Billy was more intense than a lot of the jazz drummers. He was amazing with whatever he did during the night. I can say that about each of them. There were some extra special Medeski moments during the 2nd set.
The 2nd set was an hour and then they did about a 20 minute encore.
Ahhh! I can’t believe I still get 2 more shows. They really should do the club thing more often.