"The hellfire still burns." - Lo Faber
DISCLAIMER: Total GSW fan-girl right here. At no time during this review (or elsewhere) will I pretend or claim to be otherwise. As a matter of fact, you've stepped in it. Congratulations!
God Street Wine are a rock band that grew out of NYC's late 80's / early 90's Nightingales-Wetlands-HORDE jam-rock scene (alongside groups like Blues Traveler and the Spin Doctors). Ahead of their time, GSW disbanded in 1999 and have only reunited only a handful of times. Last year, they played together for the first time in 8+ years as a memorial to their friend and first taper, Paul Ducharme.
They've since: released all their albums for free on their website (including previously unreleased demos), encouraged their fans to swarm (mostly on a fan-created Facebook group), dangled those carrots, and finally announced that they would be reuniting for 2 special shows at the Gramercy Theater benefitting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society under the watchful eye of former GSW Light Engineer, Poker Buddy, & Road Beast, Mr. Michael "buttons" Weiss. Yeah, I realize that's a run-on sentence, but eat it. Oh, and then the shows sold out in less than 35 minutes, so they were forced to add 2 more at Irving Plaza the following weekend. BOOYA.
After months of practicing on their own (where at least 1 band member neglected his donkeys), 3 weeks ago, God Street Wine started rehearsing together (again). And 2 weeks ago, they filled the Gramercy Theater up for 2 hot sweaty GSW parties and promptly blew the fucking lid off the place. THIS IS THAT REVIEW.
A heat-wave descended upon the City and the time was upon us. I was drinking tequila. After a quick pregame, we hauled ass into a packed & hot-as-balls Gramercy Theater. Their A/C was broken. Shit, we might as well get this as close to the Wetlands conditions as possible, right? Gotta make the magic happen. We may have 10 years on us, but we can still rock!
It was not only a reunion show for GSW, but for Winos as well. It was a chance for old friends to reconnect and spend a few classic nights together. Carefully arranged on the stage were memorial portraits of Paul Ducharme and Michelle Rein, two Winos undoubtedly there in spirit.
In a dramatic entrance, God Street Wine took the stage and Winos lucky enough to have scored the Golden Tickets poured on the love. They teased us with their guitars until they finally busted out Borderline, now complemented by a room full of backup singers. It was pretty awesome-- and everyone around me was in-key. Methinks the Winos spent a few months practicing too, yah?
Light My Candles was brilliant and between that and the heat, sWEaTgLANDS energy began pouring out of the crowd. Run To You was beautiful. Perfect. There were songs I wanted to hear, but when it came down to it, I didn't care what the hell they played as long as they played it. Everything was wonderful. Fortress -> April Rain!!! WOW. -> Weird Dream, Thirsty, Mile x Mile. The crowd was on every note and lyric. Then they played a 14+ minute Hellfire and shit got twisted! They went into a dark jam that sounded as if it would -> Seein' Yer Meaning or -> Pussycat. It did neither, it wound back around all crazy-like and became Hellfire again which sent the crowd into a frenzy of chanting at the end. Lots of energy. Lots of heat. Setbreak.
No bathroom line. Actually, the place was full of dudes^ -- to the point of absurdity. It made me wonder if the band were enjoying the 3 front rows full of sweaty, overweight, middle-aged dudes shouting song titles at them. Don't these dudes know that bands play better when there are girls in front? Just sayin'...
SET II. Not sure if I like the slow Electrocute as much as the fast one, but it's still got some spooky power that makes my insides feel like goo and that makes every second of it totally satisfying. Aaron did it up for Imogene. Hearing him do the last "YEAH!" at the end was like a pinch that this was really really happening! Smiling now just thinking about it. Stupid Hat was huge. They nailed it. It's such a beautiful piece and it sounded so so so so good.
Silver -> a gritty and dirty Cheap Utah Blues -> a Waiting For The Tide like no one has ever experienced before. Lo was starting his solo when the crowd just started singing the end refrain of the song. He look confused for a second, like maybe he lost his place in the song- but he hadn't-- the audience had just started to sing on their own. GSW exchanged glances, smiles, and kept playing until they eventually caught up with the Winos. Can you feel the love?
-> raging Other Shore (typo just there, "Other Whore" HAHAHA awesome) -> a Princess Henrietta time machine that made us all 15 years younger and quite possibly conjured up the energy it would take to get us all through the rest of the weekend.
1st encore was the sentimental classic Home Again, absolutely belted out by Aaron. I miss that. They made us clap again before they came out for the 2nd encore- Come Together -> a low down dirty Who Do You Love? Classic GSW swagger. They haven't lost their sense of humor.
It was at least 105 degrees in there by the end of the night. 1 show down, 3 to go. It went by too quickly, but that may have been the tequila. By then, it was already the 10th, so we'd be doing it all over again later that day. Perfect.
Saturday morning began in the afternoon. Bach took off for a Mets game, while Wren and I found some coffee and bacon. In that order. Then I layered some Jamba Juice on top. By then it was time to head down to the Gramercy for soundcheck where we were delighted to find the theater had their A/C fixed in the AM. PRAISE WINO CHEESUS!
Soundcheck was strictly business and I tried not to enjoy myself, which was impossible-- because it was awwwwwesome. I was, however, conflicted about hearing some of the songs they'd be playing as it might take some of the surprise out of it. -ps- It didn't.
Officially sanctioned Wino pregame once again took place at the Globe, where I actually ran into some of the old Livingston, NJ crew! NICE. Although the Mets lost, Bach took solace in the fact that he would soon be enjoying another GSW show. That's the spirit! And Gabe, once again taking no chances, headed into the venue when the doors opened to secure his spot up front.
My hope was that they'd harness the momentum from the night before and just take off with it. They did. Not only that, but they layed out a sick setlist and fucking delivered! Right off the bat with When She Go to get the crowd back in focus -> Molly to wrangle the rest of them -> Gretchen to secure the fort. Things slowed down a bit with She Comes Up Softly, but Driving West brought everyone back to speed. Who's Driving (WOOOOT) -> (what sounded like a Chop! tease but was actually) Dirty Little Secret (YES YES YES!!!), Ladyfingers (classy!), and finally Epiphany! Epiphany of course being one of the songs that I "needed" to hear, not just "really wanted" to hear. There's a difference.
To end SET I, Lo thanked the crowd, and Michael Weiss, the Man of the Hour(s) for all his hard work, and reminded everyone that the merch table was downstairs, and that all proceeds were being donated to the NMSS. And you can still buy the merch **HERE** (the poster is BEAUTIFUL and the hoodie is PHATTY DANK like a veggie burrito.)!
SET II. Change Your Mind- AWESOME-- never expected that! Call It Love- this was a total THROWBACK featuring Aaron in top-form. -> She Said Dark, which they dominated. Really, they made She Said Dark their bitch. One of the best songs out of the 4 reunion shows made even sicker by -> a loud, shredding, killer 4th of July.
At this point in the show, GSW was unstoppable and the crowd was losing their minds. The room was exciting. The band jammed out a grand and nearly 10 minute R U 4 Real -> freakin' MANTALOKING TOWN. Scorching dueling guitars and Tomo wailing away like Animal. They've definitely been rehearsing. Shit just got crazier. Dan absolutely rocked Brand New Pussycat -> Crashing Down, where people started going beserk. There were a lot of grown men jumping up and down in the crowd and I even saw one dude sprint through the packed room "wooooing" the entire way. Thankfully, people seemed to give him space. It was madness. -> the dramatic and beautiful Into the Sea.
The encore was Dear Prudence (a Beatles encore theme?) and a refreshing Nightingale sorbet, starring Bevo.
GSW were masterful. The sound was great, the lights were perfect--- it all felt right. Like it had never stopped. There were a few times Aaron went over to interact with Lo, but couldn't even get his attention. Lo was off in his own little world, just smiling and shredding away, which left Aaron all smiles. Amazing. How it should be. The crowd was all smiles too. My face kinda hurt. And I would get to do it all over again the following weekend. *smiles*
Both nights were amazing, but I think Saturday was when their Super Powers took hold of us mere mortals and pummeled our senses with rock goodness until we were puddles of ooze. It couldn't have gotten much better than that. God Street Wine, 7/9 & 7/10/10, The Gramercy Theater, NYC: 10 HUZZAHS!!!!!!!
Gramercy Theater, NY NY
Light My Candles
Run To You
Fortress of Solitude->
Mile By Mile->
Waiting for the Tide->
Who Do You Love
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW!
Budke SBD (Thanks, Budke!)
Scott Berstein AUD (Thanks, Scott!)
23rd Street, NY, NY
When She Go->
She Comes Up Softly
Dirty Little Secret
Change Your Mind
Call It Love
She Said Dark->
Fourth of July
Are You For Real->
Brand New Pussycat->
Into the Sea
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW!
Budke SBD (Thanks, Budke!)
Scott Berstein AUD (Thanks, Scott!)
^ The 1st of the 4 nights was the most exaggerated ratio. Are more babysitters available on Saturdays?