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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hampton 2016

Matt's high hat accents are bursts of energy early in Why Go. It's a hard hitting opener, with everyone sounding good. Ed's voice pops a bit once but nothing to distract from the raw energy. This is one of the best versions of MYM I've heard. The intro guitar work sounds interesting and tight tonight. Mike's effects work wonders during the song, most noticeably in the intro and outro. Corduroy effortlessly follows in good fashion. Ed's vocals are mixed just right for me in terms of levels. Mike goes absent for about 10 seconds around the time of the second verse. It’s less noticeable on speakers than headphones. The reworded bridge sounds great. Ed's soft, melodic vocals are gorgeous.  I love that melody in the bridge now. Matt's cymbals have a nice "ping" to them (probably his Ride cymbal). Being at the show, these opening songs just felt so right. The energy was heavy and where I was at in the balcony, Mike and Ed were very high in the mix compared to my other shows I've seen. It was simply awesome sonically. Mike's solo in Corduroy is just that as well. Having Brain of J and Faithfull at this point in the setlist and back to back, I was in Yield heaven. Ed's vocals hold mostly strong for both. This flow is interesting, energetic, and feels like it possesses a darker edge tonally. I had heard all these songs before, but was completely into the show; as if absorbed by the music. Mike and Stone's guitar tones for Faithfull are thick, crunchy, and upfront.

Ed greets the audience after Faithfull, and notes what a beautiful place Hampton is. I didn't get to see the city much while I was there, but my father and I were in awe of how gorgeous the Hampton Coliseum was on the outside. It's an awesome venue and has such an interesting feel. The inside was fairly dark, looked older/retro (it is), and had that legendary feel to it. It was historic in its own nature, and is incredibly intimate at around 9,000 capacity. The sound was crystal clear in the balcony. I could separate each instrument and feel their power. A feeling I'll always recall as utmost sincere.

The next stretch of songs works incredibly well together and creates superb flow. I Am Mine is introduced with a story similar to as it's told on Cville 13, for obvious reasons of importance. This version is quality, especially from Matt. The added snare drum accents from Matt give the song some added urgency and tension. Moving into Jeremy immediately after is mid-tempo flow at its very best. Doing so creates that hard, darker edge that is established through that kind of flow, Porto Alegre 2011 is another example. This was my father’s third show seeing PJ with me, and the first time he heard Jeremy. It was great to see him enjoy it. The crowd seemed into it as well. Stone is well up into the mix towards the end of the classic. Smooth set flow continues moving into Setting Forth-NFY-Even Flow. Interestingly, this was the only time NFY was played this tour, and it was a wonderful version. It's tight, and features a haunting Modern Girl tag. Ed brags on the crowd’s singing. Jeff's grooves are infections in Even Flow, Stone creates some interesting/scratchy effects, and Matt's solo is potent with a hint of tribal work. Although it's a live staple, this is an exciting rendition of Even Flow with a lot of passion. While a "hits heavy" section as Daughter follows, the show retains its edginess with two excellent tags. The first I don't recognize, "Gonna survive, gonna get through" but it's reminiscent of the often haunting 2000 tour tags that I have missed so dearly. Not to mention, we receive an It's Ok tag. I had never heard it before, and this was my 8th show. Some of the guitar work in it is a little off for just a few seconds, but never atrocious and they fix it quickly. After some of the songs that were to come later in the set, it was most needed for me, personally, to hear this tag. Ed again compliments the audience's singing and it being a good room for it.

Ed dedicates the next one for the teachers out there. Long Road is played mid set, and shocked me to the point it took me a few seconds to realize what it was! I recall Ed's vocals filling up the room, complete with depth and clarity, and a vast amount of passion. It's a slightly harder version of the tune, as Matt is mixed highly and his tom toms sound deep. It gives the song extra power, and worked even better live in person. He adds extra beats on the snare drum, making the bridge sound much more driving than normal. What a way for me to hear this gem for the first time live! Without pause, we head into Wishlist. To me that's an example of a well-crafted setlist transition, simply magic. Listen to Matt's soft snare roll at 3:30 to transition from one section to another in Wishlist; it's that subtle work that gives me chills. Mike's delicate riffs during the outro are elegant too. I might not be in the majority on this one, but Long Road-Wishlist-Sirens is just a perfect melodic trio. Ed improvs some of the lyrics, sounds into the song 100%, and his vocal melodies are wonderful in Sirens. His falsettos are not as harsh and he sings some parts differently. It results in a more powerful version to me. Matt adds some extra hits too coming out of the bridge that adds excitement to the live staple. This section of softer numbers here in the main set has been striking. While some will consider it nothing but "hits heavy,” the performance and flow are stellar and worthy of much praise.

Ed notes that the next one is a request, a good one. When Habit started, I rocked out hard. It was a first for me to hear live, and greatly appreciated. It holds up better in a live setting than on boot, although it's probably one of the slightly better versions I've heard from the last ten years of boots. The guitars are a smidgen off at times to me but still retain an appropriate punky, trashy kind of flavor. GTF calms us down some afterwards. Lukin-RVM concludes a wonderful, driving main set. Lukin was yet another first for me to receive live and was so fun to have it before RVM. Mike's spacey riffs on the jam in RVM are sweet! Matt adds a couple of the tribal like hits for good measure. I adored this main set and it holds up on bootleg nicely, well representing the show.

I decided last minute, after hearing Bruce had cancelled his NC show due to the law that was passed there, to get tickets for this show. I had a feeling PJ would do the same and Raleigh would be cancelled. Therefore, Hampton was my insurance policy just in case that occurred. I was sitting in the parking lot at the Hampton Coliseum having a few beers with my pops, and received the email notifying the cancellation of Raleigh. I was only disappointed for a moment, selfishly, then I became utmost appreciative that my favorite band had made the right decision. As a result, I was more pumped for this gig and felt the band had done the best thing. Listening to Ed address the decision live that night was clearly challenging for him because they did not want to cancel, and you could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I Am A Patriot is one of my favorite covers, and to hear it that night in an effective spot (after his speech) in the set was a highlight. Much like his speech, Ed’s vocals sound passionate and rich. In the bridge of SBM, Ed has a moment where he messes up. "Clarence, you let me down man! He's jealous of that fuckin guitar!" Cock measuring Ed's uke, Clarence, against Mike's big white guitar is hilarious; as is hearing Ed quickly singing through SBM to figure out where he is at in the song. It was a priceless moment. They were having fun that night, lots of smiles, and seemed to enjoy the crowd (as Mike noted in a Rolling Stone interview recently).

When Ed sang, "It's going to be ok," during an evocative version of Come Back, I broke down emotionally. For personal reasons, it's the most challenging song in their catalogue to hear. It was a cathartic and emotional moment for me. Come Back is more beautiful and powerful live than I could have imagined. Mike's guitar was prominent in the mix and the notes hit me like a ton of bricks. Sad was a surprise and Ed nailed the lyrics. The static that has been plaguing the 2015 and 2016 boots is somewhat prominent on Sad here. It's unfortunate because it's a tight, active version. Ed's voice is strong, and Mike sounds awesome with tasty guitar effects. The only truly rough sounding play tonight is on LB due to Ed missing much of his guitar work and lyrics. He was trying to get a guy out of the crowd who was being a knucklehead. Live it didn't sound as rough, but on the bootleg it is. Maybe Stone was concerned at that moment too, as his playing is ropey, while Ed just stops. Maybe the worst version of LB I've heard, it never gets back on track energetically and Ed's vocals are fairly weak in the last bit.

Ed starts a sing along with the crowd after LB and has some fun with a guy in the crowd who looks like he might cause trouble. He didn't, but just had that look apparently to Ed (jokingly); it was another funny moment in the show. In My Tree is played as a request, and not originally on the setlist. The static/clipping in the audio mix is more distracting here; the only song where it's truly discerning. It's bathed all over Ed's vocals and is a bit harsh on the ears. However, it is a terrific rendition of the No Code number. Ed's vocals soar with power, Matt’s drumming is impeccable with extra fills and snare hits, and Jeff sounds amazing. I recall at the show thinking how good and groovy Jeff sounded on that one. Breath is given another play, two nights in a row! Both versions are good, the solo/jam is quite spirited on this one from all. Jeff, again, is just on fire on Breath. His bass lines had me humming them afterwards. Ed essentially gets the lyrics right, I think one word was missed and mumbled. Breath-DTE-Porch are a perfect trio, they flow right into one another energetically. Ed struggles a tad in DTE, but Mike (the riffs) and Stone (that solo) are on fire. Porch rocks hard with its extra solid solo. Jeff and Stone are killing it with infectious riffs galore. Matt adds some slick, yet subtle, double bass work to good measure. Aside from the version of LB, which really wasn't the band's fault, it's a lively first encore and probably one of the longer ones of this tour. The main set is stronger and tighter, but this encore does have an intriguing, almost randomness about it. Possessing some unique song choices and placements, along with robust performances, it has a nice feel to it. The play on LB does distract somewhat, but is understandable to protect the crowd. To illustrate one reason why the band means so much to me, it was emotionally overwhelming for me at the time hearing Come Back. The power of the band's music is dense, true, cathartic, and simply an absolute power live.

Ed thanks an audience member for his new favorite hat, which I believe said “Sanders/Warren 2016” on it. It is wonderful to hear Ed say, "Feel the Bern!" Small Town, played to the back of the stage, gently guides us into the final stretch. Ed's voice sounds relaxed and kind of reminded me of the 2005 vocals and boot sound. Mike gets on the microphone to address great advocators and organizations being represented in the crowd. Inside Job is dedicated to them. I'm not sure if the guitars are 100% accurate throughout, but being the first time played since 2013, it sounds really, really good. Stone and Mike are upfront in the mix, while Jeff's subtle bass notes are still deeply felt. Having Inside Job late in the set like this works wonders, and makes the song feel even more like the epic it is. Ed's vocals are strong, and seeing Mike with the double neck guitar live and playing such a passionate tune left me in awe; yet another emotional experience felt at this gig for me. Inside Job-Black combo just doesn't get any better. Two heartfelt songs back to back, played with the utmost care and showcasing Mike's abilities, are well beyond the price of the MP3 alone. Matt's drum fills and hard hitting dynamics are breathtaking. He is firing on all cylinders during this play on Black. Coming out of the solo, listen to Mike's spine tingling riffs, they’re poignant. "We belong together" tag is played as well.

Alive naturally follows, accompanied with more inspiring work from Matt. Build up drum patterns, fills, random open high hat hits, and being mixed very well, Matt's drumming is ear candy. I appreciate having his cymbals being mixed at a level that is appropriate and less bright than 2013/2014 where they became a tad distracting and too brash. I believe he was using different cymbals this tour, as I noticed at the gigs. They sound darker, smoother, and more subtle. RITFW features a tight, heavy, and thick sounding intro. This audio mix brings out some of the best in these songs that I’ve heard in a while! Stone's solo is simply sick. Double bass from Matt on the outro of RITFW had me head banging, plus he adds several hits on the high pitched tom/timbale that he used this tour that everyone seems to love. I don't think I've heard a version of the classic cover that rocks any harder than this and it gave me chills. To immediately follow that up with a somber Indifference is a jolt, but in an effective manner. Having been blessed to hear it twice in a row, with Greenville before it, I couldn't ask for a more fitting conclusion to this emotional show for me. If encore one lacked just a little bit due to a ropey LB, encore two more than made up for it. The performances in encore two, especially from Matt, are truly powerhouses.

What will probably be written as the black sheep of the incredible 2016 tour, Hampton is an underrated gem, in my opinion. Being overly hyped beforehand and played on the night of a largely controversial decision, I believe Hampton was almost destined, if you will, to be jaded in the minds of some before the show even began. However, the gig was utmost fulfilling for me all around. The boot reinforces that view for me and brought back every feeling I had in person. Aside from the issue in LB and some noticeable clipping in the audio on Sad and IMT, I had a fantastic experience listening to this bootleg. Encore one lost me a tad with those couple aforementioned problems, but the main set and encore two are fantastic showings from the group. Matt is playing the best I have heard him since probably 2000. His drum work is more tribal, energetic, and vigorous. The flow of the Hampton 2016 boot, notably in the main set and encore two, is quality. The method by which the set is crafted and the songs are arranged is almost consistently well thought out and brings out the best in the song selection. In a word, this bootleg is “dynamic,” in both its set flow and its powerful performances. For me, an emotional show which I’ll never forget. 


-Marcus

3 comments:

  1. I'll definitely give this one a full listen from start to finish sometime soon. So far I've listened from Long Road to GTF on PJ radio, and have also watched videos of Sad, In My Tree, Brain of J, Faithfull on YouTube... all seem to be solid versions. I also found Long Road, Wishlist, Sirens to be a very melodic and enjoyable sequence. I like the different vocal melodies Ed has employed on Sirens this tour. Most notably on "The fear goes away" line and I've also noticed his use of a more refined falsetto. I felt Sirens here and in Ft. Lauderdale were very good versions...interesting how the song has kinda evolved every year since 2013. Also you note the version of Come Back standing out here. I haven't heard the Hampton version yet, but the emotional number was also outstanding on the Tampa boot.

    On a side note, I listened to the first set of LA 2 2006 yesterday, and was absolutely blown away. I'm not sure what the overall consensus is on this show, but I thought songs 1-14 were superb. This show puts on an absolute clinic regarding set flow with Even Flow, MFC, I Got Id, Corduroy, Daughter (with a double tag of Its Ok and IBIM), Sad, and Garden. On paper, it probably doesn't look like anything crazy, but on the boot it absolutely kills. Also having not listened to too much 2006 stuff, I had not heard the reworked Garden which evidently was a '06 staple. Stone's riff to begin the song kicks maximum ass. I probably looked like a fool jumping around and rocking out to this boot while mowing the grass, but oh well, no regrets. Anyways, this is one I would highly recommend.

    Cheers,
    Matt

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    1. I agree, Matt! LA 2 2006 is most definitely an underrated bootleg, for sure! Its a sleeper boot that far too few fans mention today regarding best 2006 shows. The flow for that boot is effortless and a really tight performance. Haha, I do the same thing man! I mow and rock out! Like you, its all in the name of rock, so no worries and no shame. :)

      Marcus

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  2. Wow Philly II '16 is excellent... The energy is maintained throughout the entire first set even after Ten. The play through the record is very enjoyable, and there is certainly no letdown after Release. Breakerfall-> Corduroy and LTRP-> STBC are all lively renditions. All or None in the first encore is just beautiful.


    I'm probably going to take a short break on 2016 boots for a week or so. I plan to give a listen to a couple 2013-2014 boots I haven't really explored yet. Most likely OKC '13, Portland '13, Memphis '14. From what I have read, all seem to be above average boots. I'm also interested in delving into Canada/SA 2011 boots. Possibly going to take a look at Saskatoon '11 due to its rarity filled first set. We'll see how it goes!

    Matt

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