Live: Furthur Stoke The Embers Of The Grateful Dead's Legacy At The Beacon

Furthur
Beacon Theater
Tuesday, April 17

Better than: String Cheese Incident.

In the ongoing tussle between Deadheads and straights, the straights seem to have won—definitely this battle, and possibly the War. A handful of vendors, selling pot paraphernalia and Steal Your Face blankets, lingered outside the Beacon Theater before the sixth show of a seven-night stand by Bob Weir and Phil Lesh's Furthur, as did plenty of sketchy-looking young'ns with dreadlocks and mangy dogs, ex-longhairs, current longhairs, and other signs that members of the Grateful Dead were in town. But inside the semi-recently reopened Beacon was a different story, the theater's new crack security team herding Deadheads from the aisles, away from their friends, and into—harshest of mellows—their assigned seats. And the Deadheads mostly went. Pot smoke was almost entirely absent.

The majority of the crowd was on its feet from beginning to end, at least theoretically ready to boogie. But there were few noodle dancers and fewer spinners to spot, and not even many onely ex-fratboys unskinnily bopping. Thanks to a somewhat reasonable ticket price (most expensive orchestra seat: $69.50), the crowd was made up of far more than baby boomers, but—perhaps not surprisingly to many—far less than a Dead concert. Despite their seemingly silly circumstances—two original bandmembers, a fake-Jerry, and a pair of stunt-vocalist backup singers—Lesh and Weir have often been able to make magic for the still-significant amount of people who still care to be in a room with fellow Deadheads, hearing the band's songbook recombined and sharing its subcultural meanings in real time by singing along and cheering in the right places, paying good money to do it multiple nights in a row, and all that. But circumstances may've changed again. (Though not the part about paying good money; all seven nights were quite sold out.)

During the show's hour-long first half, the band focused on sluggish bar-band covers (Weir's Bobby Womack-by-the-Stones' "It's All Over Now," Fake-Jerry's redundant "After Midnight") and midtempo arrangements that seemed to harken to the band's '80s stadium plod instead of their leaner early-'70s incarnations (especially an unnecessarily groovy "Peggy-O"). But the lack of dancing and general good-time Deadhead chaos wasn't necessarily the band's fault. Near the end the set, Furthur played a pair of Dead tunes containing lyrics that Deadheads have traditionally gone berserker for, one mark of the super-fans' ability to make the band's repertoire into a three-dimensional collection by adding their own mass hashtags to songs. But during "Loose Lucy," only a slight gurgle was heard from the room the first time the band came around to the "thank you for a real good time" refrain, and none at all when they returned to it. During the set-closing "The Music Never Stopped"—which contained the first of several pieces of breathtaking group improvisation—Bob Weir reached the line about the "band beyond description," and not a peep was heard from the Heads.

Even with the lack of boisterousness on the other side of the unbreached fourth wall, a short jam in the "The Music Never Stopped" served as a quick reminder to why the band might be worth seeing: a time-warping free trio dialogue between Lesh's darting lead bass, Fake Jerry's quizzical Garcia-isms, and drummer Joe Russo's light-handed cymbal-work. But it was over all too abruptly, Weir leading the band into some kind of vocal rave-up he seems to have affixed to the song in recent years. At the top of the second set, the band played Weir's "Saint of Circumstance," one of the few bright spots from the heroin/coke/booze years' Go To Heaven, which contained a line that the crowd should have cheered for: "if this ain't the real thing, then it's close enough to pretend." But they hadn't earned it yet.


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33 comments
Doug Mlyn
Doug Mlyn

The author of this article has obviously never been to a dead show. John K is not a fake Jerry, he has his own interpretation of the Dead's music, and doesn't pretend to replace Jerry. 

fever
fever

the butthurt is strong in here

bkol2005
bkol2005

Terrible article. I've seen about eight Furthur shows over the last few years and the band is extremely consistent and the shows are hot. They're digging deep into the GD catelog of music and playing some great new songs as well. So what if John sounds like Jerry some times. The guy is a really good guitar player and has helped evolve the music, which is what its all about. Phil is 71 and has never sounded better. So take it in now while you can. It won't last forever.

Ananda2193
Ananda2193

It's funny that I never heard someone call Stevie Ray Vaughn fake Jimi or Warren Haynes fake Duane or Susan Tedeski fake Bonnie Raitt........get my drift

Dayjob1978
Dayjob1978

Enough with the fake Jerry comments. That's just lazy. Perhaps justified when the group first formed three years ago, I think that JK has since proved his worth. I expect better out our you Mr. Jarnow- having read your reviews since the first HPB was published. lazy lazy lazy. BTE, it was eight shows, not seven.

Gher
Gher

What an ass! You will never get it!

Martha Mccarthy
Martha Mccarthy

This person is a moron. Knows just enough about the Dead to think he can do a review. They say a little knowledge can be dangerous.  This proves that to be true. 

pinman
pinman

Having seen Furthur live several times now, I can understand where the author is coming from. Some shows were solid for 80% of the night, others the opposite in my experience. His fundamental observation about the fading away of the subculture intensity is right on, but that's really a moot point now isn't it? The consistent, persistent reality that he missed is that, just like the GD, some shows are "of the ages" and some are not. That's why we go 7 times in a row- if you give up digging, you miss the nuggets!

Smcganahan
Smcganahan

You give Furthur a few props, so your review isn't total trash. It's obvious you really have little understanding what the true impetus for people attending these shows is. Call it a restoration of faith in something held dear to us for a long time, something greatly missing in our world today, and an event that is just plain fun. By the way, aside from those nitrous mafia clowns and the idiots who support them, this crowd only comes together peacefully to have a good time, respectful of the venue, and left a lot of money in the neighborhoods cash registers, as well as NYC hotels, cabs, restaurants, etc. And your reference to 'fake Jerry'. What lazy writing that is. Everyone knows he's not Jerry, which your use of the word fake would lead us to believe you think Furthur is trying to pull one over on us by having a "fake" on stage. Maybe Jerry Jr., but not fake, that is very disrespectful to him and the fans who have come to appreciate John K. 

Darkstarjamblog
Darkstarjamblog

NYC has never been that kind to Deadheads (except for Wetlands).  I do know what you mean about the Beacon. But when there's a will there's a way. I was there that night and I thought it was a great show. Can't wait for summer tour... Darkstarjamblog

Agni
Agni

Never send a boy to do a man's work.

John Bolcato
John Bolcato

Fist he is not fake Jerry he is john k and he should be referred to as that not Fake Jerry, I thought the Peggy-o was good not the best i ever herd but still, and after they did an 8 night run i think they have the right to be a little tired. There is no need to mention the heroin/coke/drinking we all know what happened and don't need some bad writer putting that negative publicity on this band as well, It's not the grateful dead and they are not trying to be the grateful dead they have said that, and pot man who the hell cares if there was pot smoke in the air, (btw there was plenty) What does that have to do with how the band is playing? as far as dancing and spinning we were all dancing and had a great time 

Daphnefish
Daphnefish

I have seen this new band since the FOX shows in 09. This is the last time to see this music, most of us love it and support it. Good luck trying to play like Jerry, sure I can make my guitar sound like Zepplin and play the lead as it is on the album, but to think in the style of a player and get it right, each night with confidence is extremely hard. To react to the players on stage without a net. WOW. The thing about John is he inspires Bob and Phil- When I saw the first shows they were freaked out by this karma he has on stage- He gets it, even if you dont. It is ok, you dont have to like it. We will do it for you.

thor7363
thor7363

fake jerry - gimme a break.  fake writer ...

Granitedive
Granitedive

I don't understand why all you folks are so up in arms over his review. It sounded to me like he liked the show. Maybe not blown away, but he certainly wasn't overly critical. I took no offense to "fake Jerry", I thought he was light-heartedly poking fun. I think maybe you guys are being a little too sensitive. What would you expect a reviewer to say in 2012? "Gee, the band was far out and groovy?" C'mon...

TP
TP

Dont be a hater, be accepting, it makes your conscience rest easier.

Alankreed
Alankreed

7 NIGHTS? RIGHT THERE I PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE REST!!!

JB
JB

Why would the Village Voice send a 'fake writer' to cover a band that sold out 8 nights at the Beacon?  Perhaps this 'fake writer' should covering 'cover bands' on Bleeker Street.  Bad call Village Voice.... Bad call.

Lionel
Lionel

I´ve seen this incarnation several times and have enjoyed it.  This writer can just wait a few years and then it will all be over and he won´t have to attend post-Dead shows and write about them.  There is so much negativity about everything in the online world, so this review seems fittingly insulting.  His use of "fake Jerry" throughout the article was continually disheartening, but in line with the times I suppose.  I´ll make a note to avoid this writer in the future, not because he was critical of the show but because he had to have that disrespectful vile tone that seems to be the norm.  Ahh well, another person attempting to make their mark through the veil of disrespectful mutterings, as common as pavement.

Ken Lee
Ken Lee

Wouldn't New Jerry be nicer?These guys are consummate and deadicated professionals  and their batting average is  well over GD's, night for night.The power exchange between the band and the audience maybe beyond this writers perceptions.The music is free flowing and joyous, sorry you couldn't let yourself go for a moment and suck it up.

uncle bobo
uncle bobo

My man,we are not all dreadlocked stoners stumbling thru this maze. This safe place for us, has been 30-40 years of a "short time to be there" we (most) like that security puts people in the right spot. We miss the man but to throw out "fake Jerry" just makes you look like a whiny douche. My choppy style is due to trying to touch on your many points apologies in advance. I am not a Springsteen fan but i have this feeling you drooled all over his "everyman outlook" blah blah i can roll with that but(!) keep in mind when this ends.........fare you well

Johnjconti
Johnjconti

His name is John Kadlecik, took ya half the story to get it right, just like the first set of the show. Next time, stay home and just write your half-assed assesment, maybe we should call you fake journalist!

Black Peter
Black Peter

Wow. Just awful. And what's with the pot shot at String Cheese to kick off this dribble?

warlocks89
warlocks89

Hey Fake writer, don't quit your '"Day Job"..........condescending jerk. 

Greg
Greg

Well about the oonly thing you got right was the Set List and then you even messed that up at the end, where is Wharf Rat, and what is a Fake Jerry anyway, is it anything like a fake writer?

tiz_walstib
tiz_walstib

Jarnow, stick to writing ad copy for trafficking victims on Backpage. It's how VV pays your salary so that is your true bread-and-butter. Get over it or find a new gig with a publisher that isn't exploiting trafficked teens.

You missed the entire point of the Dead and their scene and the Furthur experience likewise.

It was and is all about living in the moment. However that moment turns out.

As long as we are going to parse song lyrics, here's one for you:

"Well it's been heaven, but even rainbows will end"

Furthur is proving to have a few more miles left in the music, enough to attract an audience two generations younger than I was when I got on the bus in 1977. Phil is playing his ass off every night they take to the stage; and if you heard the jam they did on Box of Rain the other night at the Beacon maybe you would understand that they are still finding new ways to express and exploit mindfulness for all it is worth. Personally I'm pretty weary of the JK detractors and the "fake Jerry" references I've seen here and on Archive. JK got the gig because he has more tricks up his sleeve than playing Jerry's licks. "Fame" licks on the intro to Viola Lee Blues, quoting Yes during the end jam of St. Stephens. And tearing the hell out of Marbles every time they wring that one for all it's worth. I honestly wasn't impressed with Chimenti when I saw him perform with The Dead a few years back, but he is proving to be a powerhouse keyboard player with an astute mastery of not only all of the various Dead keyboardists from over the years but his own tasty style as well. When things do get out of hand Chimenti is the anchor that pulls it back together and preps them for the next takeoff.

And Furthur is still making sly commentary on current events every time they perform as well. A good recent example was the seamless transition from Truckin' to New Speedway Boogie the night Rick Santorum bowed out of the GOP primary. This is the stuff that the Heads appreciate and live for: making the music relevent to TODAY,

The "disappointment" at what you see as the dimming of their subculture belongs solely to you. Phil and Bob are still serving the music and proving it to be relevent almost 50 years after the fact. If you are open they will take you "there"; if you dance along you will get your kundalini rush. Phil is still living the dream from that afternoon long ago. Live in the moment and you can live that dream too. 

AustinTxDude
AustinTxDude

I thought this was a bit condescending.  I mean, why not call the drummer "Fake Billy", or Chimenti "Fake Brent".  He's clearly unhappy with Furthur's approach, which is unfortunate, because the shows are fun and engaging, and people seem to enjoy themselves.  Phil is playing incredibly well, as are the rest of these fine musicians.  I love the good ol' Grateful Dead, but am not confused about the fact that this is a new & different band.  Lighten up indeed!!

MikeB
MikeB

Dear Fake-Writer---Did it really take you half an article to realize his name is John Kadlecik? And even after that kicked in, you misspelled it.If the goal of this review was to instill controversy around Furthur and create disdain towards yourself, congratulations! You've nailed it!! After reading reviews on concerts by the Dead and their successors since the early 70's, you'd think I would have learned by now not to bother reading them. Afterall, how could a reviewer be expected to understand the attraction and musical value of a band that has been so successful on so many levels for well over 40 years and shows no signs of losing that anytime soon?

Eagle
Eagle

Jarnow, maybe Furthur had an off night (who among we humans does not perform at our best 24/7?), but the only thing that truly comes out of your review is that you possess a self-contolless degree of anger, tinged w/ an ugly amount of envy at that which, though you struggle mightily but in the end futily, you simply do not understand -- kinda like the rag for which you write.  "Fake Jerry" -- c'mon -- that's simply gratuitisly mean-spirited, plain and simple.  You would  do well to remember (or likely, in your case, to learn for the first time) that no karmic debt in the universe ever goes unpaid.  I've seen the GD and JGB a gazillion times and likewise w/ the many post Jerry incarnations -- these guys are not trying re-create the GD.  No, they are not those kind of men - rather, knowing the only thing that is real is the present (past and future are simply figments of the imagination), they (and those of us who see things similarly) are simply exploring what is unknown, letting go of the safety of the predictable and seeing what manifests -- sometimes something extremely special and beautiful, sometimes not -- but at least these guys (and us) have the balls to try, unlike you and your rag, who remain mired in anger and thinly-veiled self doubt, insecurity and predictability -- too bad -- it amounts to nothing but dead weight and advances nothing to or for humanity.  Honestly hope you take this to heart and have the courage to re-think things -- it may take some courage but it'll be worth it.

Amdew122
Amdew122

Glad you are not going tonight wanker.

Ralph
Ralph

Boy,tough on Furthur. They are bringing a fairly good product to it's fanbase. C'mon ease up

Doug Mlyn
Doug Mlyn

couldn't have set it better myself. The fake Jerry comment is so lame. 

Thomasbeebo
Thomasbeebo

Sorry bro, but there will never be New Jerry. I even have a problem with any reference to Jerry when mentioning John, unless you're saying he plays and sings songs that Jerry did. 

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