Our favorite performances from 2017

Best live shows of 2017 - The xx, Miguel, Moderat & Coldplay

2017, where the hell did you go? It just felt like the other day that we were ringing in a new year, and yet, here we are again as we plow straight ahead into 2018.

But before we officially put a bow on 2017, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. This year, we had the opportunity to capture many amazing moments in live music, and while we couldn’t pay homage to every single performance we witnessed, we made a conscious effort to include a wide range of talent spread across the industry.

Whittling down our list, though, was not that easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

21 Savage, The Accidentals, Action Bronson, Alice Cooper, Alina Baraz, alt-J, Amber Mark, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Animal Collective, Atlas Genius, The Avalanches, The Band Perry, Beach Slang, Belle and Sebastian, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Bleachers, Blonde Redhead, Bob Moses, Car Seat Headrest, Cate Le Bon, Cigarettes After Sex, Circles Around the Sun, City of Caterpillar, The Coathangers, Claude VonStroke, Chris Robinson, Con Brio, Conor Oberst, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Crystal Castles, The Crystal Method, Daniel Caesar, Dawes, Dead Meadow, Deafheaven, Deep Purple, Diet Cig, DIIV, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Dog, Dr. Octagon, Duke Dumont, Eagles of Death Metal, Electric Guest, Emancipator, Emily King, Empire of the Sun, Foxygen, Future Islands, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Gatecreeper, Girl Talk, Gone Is Gone, Grizzly Bear, Gucci Mane, Hamilton Leithauser, Hazel English, Hinds, The Hip Replacements, Hiss Golden Messenger, How to Dress Well, Iggy Pop, Isaiah Rashad, Jack Johnson, Jagwar Ma, Jamestown Revival, Jamie Isaac, Jay 305, Jen Cloher, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Jessie Ware, Jim James, JR JR, Julie Byrne, Julien Baker, Justice, Karen Elson, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, KAYTRANADA, Kelis, K. Flay, Khalid, Khruangbin, Kilo Kish, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kurt Vile, La Femme, LANY, Lauv, L.A. Witch, Lettuce, Lil Yachty, Little Dragon, Lo Moon, Lorde, Lord Huron, Miike Snow, Milky Chance, Minus the Bear, Mister Heavenly, MØ, Mondo Cozmo, Neon Indian, Nicki Bluhm, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, NVO, Oh Sees, OK Go, Once and Future Band, Pallbearer, The Palms, Passion Pit, Peaches, Perfume Genius, Petit Biscuit, Phoebe Bridgers, Playboi Carti, Pond, Porcelain Raft, PRAYERS, The Radio Dept., Real Estate, The Revivalists, Royal Blood, Sampha, ScHoolboy Q, Sheer Mag, serpentwithfeet, Silversun Pickups, Sleep, Sleigh Bells, SOFI TUKKER, Solange, Spiritualized, Styles P, Sunflower Beam, Talib Kweli, Tank and The Bangas, Tash Sultana, Tei Shi, Temples, Tennis, Tennyson, Thou, Thundercat, TOBACCO, Touché Amoré, Tool, Tove Lo, Travis Scott, Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vagabon, Vance Joy, Vic Mensa, Warpaint, Weezer, White Fence, Woods, YG, Young the Giant.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2017.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Best of 2017 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Date: February 1st
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Yet, in just four years, Run the Jewels have already reached hip-hop’s mountaintop with their politically charged lyrics and hard-hitting beats. Just take last Wednesday’s sold-out show in LA for example. With the duo’s third studio album still only a few weeks old, 5,000 or so fans poured into the spacious Shrine Expo Hall to watch El-P and Killer Mike fuck shit up (for lack of a better term). And that’s exactly what they did after opening sets from The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangasta Boo and CUZ. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - BADBADNOTGOOD

BADBADNOTGOOD

Date: February 23rd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold-out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Spoon

Spoon

Date: March 7th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

In total, Spoon performed five songs from the new record, including “First Caress” to open a brief encore that left us eager for more. But as the five-piece rocked “Rainy Taxi” from 2014’s They Want My Soul to close, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is one band I never should have slept on. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

Date: April 8th
Location: Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best of 2017 - DREAMCAR

DREAMCAR

Date: April 9th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Jared Stossel, photo by Jared Stossel


Best of 2017 - A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

Date: April 13th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Date: April 14th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

Yes, the sound problems (all three instances) put a real damper on what was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. This was the third time Goldenvoice called on Radiohead to headline Coachella, and for one of rock’s most important bands over the last 30 years, it certainly wasn’t a charm as the saying goes. In that moment, it was pretty hard not to feel bad for Thom Yorke, who could only make light of the situation by cracking a joke even if it wasn’t supposed to be one — or so he claimed. But Radiohead more than made up for it with a masterful setlist that opened with A Moon Shaped Pool cuts “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk” and “Ful Stop” before circling back to older hits such as “Everything in Its Right Place”, “There There”, “Idioteque” and even “Creep”. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Date: April 16th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

All hail, King Kendrick! Or should we say “Kung Fu Kenny?” The Compton rapper reached hip-hop’s mountaintop more than two years ago with his Grammy-winning masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, but headlining Coachella was still on his to-do list. In fact, it was only the second time he had ever been booked to perform at Coachella after being listed on the last line of the 2012 poster. Closing out the fest is no short order for any artist, let alone one who dropped his new album less than 48 hours before taking the stage, but K-Dot lived up to the billing with a show that provoked as much thought as it entertained. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - The xx

The xx

Date: April 17th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

Playfully alluding to their material’s emotional sentiment, Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar) and Oliver Sim (bass, vocals) managed to entrance all of us with their tension-filled gazes and syncopated dance moves. Prolonging vocal arrangements, especially during their accelerated live interpretation of “Infinity”, were also stunning to witness. About halfway through the set, Jamie Smith (beats, MPC, production), aka Jamie xx, took the lead and transformed the room into a giant disco party thanks to an onslaught of consecutive dance hits before finishing with “Loud Places” from his 2015 solo LP In Colour. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

Date: April 20th
Location: Mayan Theater – Los Angeles

Moderat subsequently circled back to III, performing “Intruder” before exiting the stage to a rousing applause. Yet, when the house lights didn’t come on right away, the suspense began to build once again. Less than a minute later, the three-piece reemerged, giving the audience more than its money’s worth. Two-encore shows are usually reserved for high-profile groups with extensive catalogs like Radiohead, but Moderat have never played by any rules. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Date: May 9th
Location: The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles

The Lips, of course, made sure to play that song, and even though it was without Watts, it still proved to be an unforgettable moment due to the fact that Coyne rode a life-size unicorn from one end of the stage to the other as he belted out lines like “Yeah, there should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes / It should be loud as fuck / Hope the swans don’t die” to open the tune while wearing a big smile across his face. If that’s not psychedelic to you, then I don’t know what is. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Date: June 3rd
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Stephanie Port, photo by Stephanie Port


Best of 2017 - Jay Som

Jay Som

Date: June 17th
Location: Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.” -Kevin Quandt, photo by Emmeline Munson


Best of 2017- AIR

AIR

Date: June 23rd
Location: The Masonic – San Francisco

AIR’s live performances focus on capturing the crisp, detailed production style that the duo has honed over two decades. It’s a vibrant, textured sound. Centered around acoustic guitar, synthesizers and the breathy timbre of the duo’s immaculate harmonized vocals, the use of live drums helped round out the contrast between both the artificial and acoustic sounds in songs like “Cherry Blossom Girl”. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - PLANETARIUM

PLANETARIUM

Date: July 21st
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”. -Norm de Veyra, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - The Drums

The Drums

Date: July 21st
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

By the time The Drums took the stage, the intimate venue was packed to the brim with fans. The Brooklyn outfit made as much of an impression as it did when frontman Jonathan Pierce and company exploded onto the scene in 2009 with their initial EP Summertime! From then on, it became glaringly obvious with their eccentric band members and seemingly effortless style that they possessed an energetic presence. And at their SF show, it didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to fall into a groove as the venue’s whole atmosphere lit up. -Jacqueline Moore, photo by Jacqueline Moore


Best of 2017 - Miguel

Miguel

Date: July 23rd
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles

Once the sun set and Miguel stepped onstage, the audience was transported somewhere else entirely. Born and raised in LA, the 31-year-old’s silky-smooth voice floated through the cool evening breeze over the twinkle lights in the trees, giving the impression of an island retreat rather than a concert in the park. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: August 5th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

Granduciel’s raspy voice, as well as his driving (no pun intended) guitar rhythms and reverb-laden riffs, are largely what separates The War on Drugs from the rest in a crowded indie-rock scene, but the sum of the band’s parts — Charlie Hall (drums), David Hartley (bass), Anthony LaMarca (guitar, keyboards), Robbie Bennett (keyboards) and finally Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) — also creates a sound that while familiar, still feels uniquely different. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Date: August 11th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Easily one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Gorillaz’s Humanz tour made its West Coast debut on Day 1 at OSL. After a six-year hiatus, expectations ran extremely high for this headlining performance. On previous tours, the band’s members had played second fiddle to the cartoon projections of their alter egos onstage, but everyone was visible this time around. Several collaborators from Gorillaz’s previous albums, including Kali Uchis, Yukimi Nagano and Del the Funky Homosapien, came out to join them, and the Damon Albarn-led group still pulled some even bigger surprises with cameos appearances from De la Soul and Pusha T. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Date: August 12th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

While the cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age was a blow a week prior to the event, the replacement that was lined up more than delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll. Cage the Elephant are now being widely considered festival-headliner material, and frontman Matt Shultz is making a strong claim for that accolade as he continues to elevate his stage act to near-Mick Jagger levels of pomp and energy. “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” received hearty sing-alongs from a decidedly youthful crowd as Cage have become a favorite of Generation Z. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!” -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - SZA

SZA

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - Bonobo

Bonobo (Live)

Date: September 27th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Coldplay

Coldplay

Date: October 4th
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

Coldplay took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. as a video montage of fans who introduced them as “the biggest band in the world” played onstage. While I’m pretty sure there are a few other artists or groups from their side of the pond (ehem, U2) who might take issue with that claim, they certainly did nothing during their electric, almost two-hour performance to dissuade that sort of thinking. Chris Martin and company, in fact, wasted no time getting down to business, flooding the stadium with confetti and firing off pyrotechnics at a steady clip while opening with “A Head Full of Dreams” and subsequently all throughout the night. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Date: October 26th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

Here’s the thing about BSS — after 15 years, the web of musicians that makes up the collective have created their own individual projects, from Metric to Stars to Feist to Do Make Say Think to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. And while many of the band’s members who have gone on to find success in their own solo careers didn’t happen to join the group on this particular tour, the sense of professionalism built into the BSS live experience remains prevalent. Every person who stepped onstage demonstrated consummate abilities in their own realms, never missing a beat or a note. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Norm de Veyra

Best of 2017 - Jim James

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Circles Around the Sun take us on a long, strange trip back to 1967 at Terrapin Crossroads

Circles Around the SunBy Gina Lopez //

Circles Around the Sun with Mapache //
Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael, CA
July 29th, 2017 //

Psychedelic rock, a liquid light show and tie-dye-clad fans … “Was this the ‘Summer of Love?'” I asked myself last Saturday night at Terrapin Crossroads.

After all, it has been 50 years since the summer of 1967, when San Francisco turned into the epicenter for America’s counterculture movement, but that was the scene at the well-known San Rafael restaurant and music venue founded by former Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, where headliner Circles Around the Sun turned up the heat for a stellar performance.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Mapache kicked things off with an opening set reminiscent of the great folk-rock bands from the 60’s. Using just steel and acoustic guitars and delivering some earnest vocals, the long-haired duo successfully set the tone for the night.

Mapache


Mapache

Fronted by Neal Casal, who serves as the lead guitarist for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Phil Lesh, Circles Around the Sun appear to be setting out on their own orbital path as they passed through the zodiac of Terrapin Crossroads. The quartet took the sold-out crowd on a far-out trip around the sun and back with its extended, wah-inflected and entrancingly rhythmic jams.

It was as though Circles’ sound encapsulated the universe, with the soundwaves of distant galaxies reverberating within the intimate venue, all while fans swayed and grooved to the music’s gravitational pull and splashes of color swirled, pulsated and amalgamated across the stage in patterns as unique and unrepeatable as your fingerprint. The atmosphere was so groovy that it felt like we had actually time-traveled back to 1967, circling around the distant sun and back.

Chris Robinson delivers chills at The Chapel

Chris RobinsonBy Benjamin Wallen //

Chris Robinson with Mapache //
The Chapel – San Francisco
June 21st, 2017 //

It was about eight years ago when a girl messaged me on an online dating website.

“Hey, I don’t think we’d be a good match, but I got an extra ticket to the Chris Robinson Brotherhood show in Oakland,” she wrote. “I see you like the same kind of music. Do you want to go with me?”

“Why not?” I thought. I had no idea who Chris Robinson was, and I said so.

“Never heard of him, but why not?” I replied. She informed me that he was a member of The Black Crowes.

I thought to myself, “Wait, a country band?” So, I did a quick Google search.

I had always thought that Chris Robinson Brotherhood were a country band, but boy, was I wrong. Instead, I came to find that they were an amazing rock band and quickly fell in love with their music. I wrote back to the girl, “Hell yeah! Let’s do this!”

Chris Robinson

That night, I fell in love even more with Chris Robinson as he blazed through a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”. It was one of the most memorable nights. Not only was it an amazing show, but I also met a new friend and fell in love with a whole new band.

Well, years have past and I was able to see Chris Robinson Brotherhood on a couple of other occasions, including at High Sierra Music Festival and again at The Chapel last Wednesday for a solo acoustic performance — something that I imagined would be incredible and absolutely proved to be.

Robinson’s voice gives me chills and seeing him at a venue as intimate as The Chapel was truly amazing. You always worry about solo acoustic shows being hard for the audience to keep its attention at or that it doesn’t feel quite as powerful as when a band performs live.

Well, I can say that Robinson is even better as a solo acoustic act. The sound at the first of his two SF shows was impeccable, and the vibe was all smiles. Even in a near-silent room, you could feel it.

From start to finish, it was an amazing night. Mapache, an acoustic duo from Los Angeles, kicked things off with great songs that were led by wonderful harmonies. I’ve since added them to my “must-see again” list, but in the end, the wonder that is Chris Robinson stole the show. While the crowd politely kept it down, the music took to the air and enchanted us all. The highlight for me was when he played “Sunday Sound”, a song by Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud, midway through the set.

If you get a chance to catch Robinson perform solo, do it. You will not be disappointed. Just keep it down and get as close as you can. You won’t regret riding the rail for this one.

Setlist:
Hotel Illness (The Black Crowes song)
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye (The Black Crowes song)
Someday Past the Sunset (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Fables (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud song)
Silver Car (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud song)
Shadow Cosmos (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Blonde Light of Morning (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Hark, The Herald Hermit Speaks (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Glow (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Train Robbers (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud song)
Sunday Sound (Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud song)
Good Friday (The Black Crowes song)
Blue Star Woman (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
If You Had a Heart to Break (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Beware, Oh Take Care (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
California Hymn (Chris Robinson Brotherhood song)
Jealous Again (The Black Crowes song)
Appaloosa (The Black Crowes song)

Encore:
High Head Blues (The Black Crowes song)
Oh, The Rain (Blind Willie Johnson cover)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood put the pedal to the metal at LA’s newest home for jam bands

Chris Robinson BrotherhoodBy Josh Herwitt //

Chris Robinson Brotherhood //
The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles
December 17th, 2016 //

Back when MTV was in its heyday, I remember seeing the music video for The Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle” routinely flash across my television screen. It was my first memory of the now-defunct Southern blues-rock band fronted by Chris Robinson, whose soulful croon for nearly 25 years helped the Crowes sell more than 30 million albums.

But despite all of their success together, Robinson and his younger brother Rich often didn’t see eye to eye. That’s why after two separate hiatuses, The Black Crowes made it official late last year, announcing that they were done once and for all.

For Robinson, the breakup signaled an opportunity for him to focus primarily on his other project, the eponymous Chris Robinson Brotherhood that formed several years earlier and leans more heavily toward the West Coast jam scene that the Grateful Dead pioneered than the feel-good rock ‘n’ roll that The Black Crowes were well-known for fostering in the 90’s.

At this point, CRB are a well-oiled machine. With five LPs — including two this year in Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel and If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now — under its belt, the five-piece has established itself as one of the hardest-working bands out there, both in the studio and on the road.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

With the release of If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now in early November, CRB had already been up and down the West Coast for a couple of weeks by the time they arrived in the city where the group was formed. It was a unusually cold, winter night in LA last Saturday, as Robinson (lead vocals, guitar) and his fellow bandmates — Neal Casal (guitar, vocals), Adam MacDougall (keyboards, vocals), Tony Leone (drums) and newest addition Jeff Hill (bass) — walked onstage at The Fonda Theatre for the very first time.

After all, since CRB formed in 2011, the El Rey Theatre has served as their LA home, like it has for many jam-related acts. But over the past year, The Fonda has reasserted itself as the venue for jam bands. Both Lotus and Galactic have made the move, with each scheduled to perform at the 1,200-person venue that’s changed its name a handful of times in February.

The Fonda, on this night, appeared to serve CRB well, well enough to mix in their newest material like “Roan County Banjo” and “New Cannonball Rag” off If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now with covers of The Byrds’ “Lazy Days” and Robinson’s past solo project New Earth Mud. There were cuts from Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel, particularly during the band’s second set as CRB plowed through “Ain’t It Hard but Fair”, “Leave My Guitar Alone” and “Forever as the Moon” before wrapping up with “Narcissus Soaking Wet”, which opens the eight-track record that reached as high as No. 118 on the Billboard 200.

CRB are among a rare breed of bands. With Robinson’s roots in Georgia despite moving to California more than 20 years ago, there’s still a Southern quality to his music. His unique voice puts you at ease, and although guitar is still fairly new to him, you wouldn’t know it from the way his playing jives so seamlessly with Casal’s. Yet, as a Marin County resident where friends Phil Lesh and Bob Weir also live, you can see where Robinson’s allegiances have started to lie. Intertwining elements of psychedelic rock, blues and jam, CRB are an amalgamation of Robinson’s many influences. Maybe no better example of that was their cover of swamp rocker Tony Joe White’s “Saturday Night in Oak Grove, Louisiana”, which showed up as “Saturday Night in L.A.” on the setlist. So, as Robinson and company closed with their own rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll” that had fans singing along to the words Lou Reed once wrote back in 1970, it felt like a good way to celebrate a Saturday night in LA.


Set 1: Lazy Days (The Byrds cover), Roan County Banjo, Badlands Here We Come, Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor, Sunday Sound (Chris Robinson & New Earth Mud cover), Meanwhile in the Gods…, California Hymn, Saturday Night in L.A. (officially titled “Saturday Night in Oak Grove, Louisiana”) (Tony Joe White cover)

Set 2: Rosalee, New Cannonball Rag, Ain’t It Hard but Fair, Reflections on a Broken Mirror, Leave My Guitar Alone, Forever as the Moon, I Ain’t Hiding (The Black Crowes cover), Narcissus Soaking Wet > Rosalee reprise

Encore: Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground cover)

At the Fox Theater Oakland, Tedeschi Trucks Band float beautifully in the balance

Tedeschi Trucks BandPhotos by Mike Rosati, Karen Goldman & Kory Thibeault // Written by Kory Thibeault //

Tedeschi Trucks Band //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
September 8th-9th, 2016 //

Tedeschi Trucks Band are one of those acts that transcend a person’s taste in music. Everyone walks away from a Tedeschi Trucks show with a few moments that resonate with their heart and soul. The coupling of Susan Tedeschi’s powerhouse vocals with husband Derek Trucks’ slide-guitar genius creates a blues-rock masterpiece that will rock you to your soul. And that statement fails to tip my hat to Tedeschi’s beautiful guitar musings.

TTB are big, both in size and sound. The 12-piece band consists of seasoned professionals who understand the kind of collaboration needed to realize the group’s vision. Not a single member sounded flat during a two-night run at the Fox Theater Oakland last Thursday and Friday. Their music was tight yet improvisational, loud yet restrained, powerful yet gentle. Practice and passion have seemingly allowed them to float beautifully in the balance, or in other words, to “ring those lofty bells” as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir might say. And by the time their Bay Area run was over, they had delivered two solid performances to a grateful and full house.

On Friday night, the group presented “An Evening with Tedeschi Trucks Band”, featuring two full sets and an encore. TTB craft their setlists from the solo careers of Tedeschi and Trucks as well as a couple of their studio albums. They started the night ripping right into “Anyhow”, a standout track off their latest album Let Me Get By, and transitioned into “Don’t Know What It Means”, another on the LP. The energy was palpable from the start as everyone anticipated a sublime night of music.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

The “Swamp Raga” opening to their hit “Midnight in Harlem” introduced what would easily be considered the highlight of the first set. This ballad features a tear-jerking performance from Tedeschi as her vocals were nothing less than awe inspiring. A certain calm came over the crowd as everyone softly sang along to her musings. They finished the set strong with “Had to Cry Today” and sent everyone buzzing into the set break.

The rest of the evening was spectacular as the band weaved in and out of both originals and covers, the latter of which included Sleepy John Estes’ “Leaving Trunk”, John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”, Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and lastly Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain”, with all of them exemplifying the band’s superb taste and perfect execution. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” featured high-flying vocals from Chris Robinson, formerly of The Black Crowes and now the driving force behind the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

Catching an evening of Tedeschi Trucks Band in such a brilliant environment as the Fox was certainly a treat. Fortunately for those not in attendance, the band will be releasing a live LP and DVD to remember the two-night run in Oakland. I am overjoyed at the idea of that I will get to relive this experience as TTB continue to push the sonic boundaries of blues rock. So, don’t sleep on this band — they have something for everyone.

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Set 1: Anyhow, Don’t Know What It Means, Keep on Growing (Derek and the Dominos cover), Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen cover), Within You Without You (The Beatles cover), Just as Strange, Crying Over You, Swamp Raga (The Derek Trucks Band cover), Midnight in Harlem, Had to Cry Today (Blind Faith cover)

Set 2: These Walls (with Alam Khan on sarod), Right on Time, Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes cover), Don’t Drift Away, I Want More, Soul Sacrifice (Santana cover), Angel From Montgomery (John Prine cover), Sugaree (Jerry Garcia cover), Get What You Deserve (The Derek Trucks Band cover), I Pity the Fool (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover), Bitches Brew (Miles Davis cover), Let Me Get By

Encore: You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover) (with Chris Robinson), Space Captain (Joe Cocker cover) (with Chris Robinson)