4/20 in Albany: Late For the Early Show, Early For the Late Show

When you are in college, 4/20 is a day reserved for indulging in the delights of some Giggle Smoke, whether you be a rare smoker or a daily puffer. Moving past college and you get to take a break from the real world, but the real world is still there when you take this break. Even farther beyond college, it gets to the point of shrugging shoulders and looking back at the old days when the date was looked forward to with rapt anticipation. But whatever your age, 4/20 isn’t just about what you smoke, it’s what music you see to elevate you higher than any Sticky Icky ever could.

In the Albany area, there were a couple of notable shows that I headed to, but in perfect accordance with the day, I was late for the first show and showed up early for the later one. The Machine were set to play Upstate Concert Hall, and admittedly, I didn’t check to see what time they would go on, I simply presumed between 9-10 pm, like other shows at the venue. Nope, it was 8 pm and I was able to catch most of the second set. The crowd was packed in for the show, especially older fans who gladly sang in unison on ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’, but also explains the earlier start time, as the evening’s music was over by 10:45 pm.

The Machine was top notch and recreated the Pink Floyd sound and nearly the stage show, with copious amounts of smoke filling the air, creating silhouettes of the band members, particularly guitarist Ryan Ball and his mane of hair. The lights and lasers had hints of the Dark Side of the Moon prism in the colors, a visual treat, particularly on this night. A dark ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ formed out of a jam from ‘Signs of Life’, Money elicited attention from the audience for one of the most played songs in the Floyd catalog, as well as a psychedelic ‘Astronomt Domine’. The encore was a dose of rare and popular ‘Julia Dream’, from the 1960s era of Pink Floyd that kept everyone focused while they explored the early catalog (which is highly undervalued, by the way). The drum beats to signal ‘Run Like Hell’ recalled The Wall and had fist pumps from a handful in the crowd and ended the night, although the audience wanted more on a night that was still young, even if the crowd wasn’t.

The Machine, Upstate Concert Hall

Set 1: Welcome to the Machine, Bringing the Boys Back Home, Sorrow, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Another Brick in the Wall, Cymabline, Not Now John

Set 2: Pigs on the Wing, Dogs, Signs of Life > Set the controls for the heart of the sun> Money, Astronomy Domine, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb

Encore: Julia Dream, Run Like Hell

Photos by Tom Miller

With time to make it to The Bayou Cafe (soon to be The Hollow Bar and Grill), I arrived just before Timbre Coup began their set, but just after opener Solaris, had packed up and loaded their van. I’ve seen Solaris before and it’s been a while, so missing the opening set was a downer, but to hang with the band and find out what’s in store this summer (a lot, thankfully), it made up for it. The instrumental techno makers from Ithaca never fail to make a night of music memorable, doing with guitar, bass and drums the hard way what DJ’s pressing play on a computer do with simplicity. If you are in Ithaca on this Friday, April 26th, check them out at The Haunt with Dopapod – you won’t be disappointed.

Timbre Coup took the stage for what proved to be the highlight of 4/20 – four talented musicians playing a wide range of originals, tailoring the setlist that would get the most ‘relaxed’ fan up and dancing throughout the evening. Some solid jamming bridged ‘August’ and ’55’, but ‘June’, with Matt Pickering’s vocals amid an 80’s synth vibe populated the dance floor.  An apropos cover of Sublime’s ‘Garden Grove’ was spot on, bleeding nicely into ‘I Didn’t Know She Had a Moustache’. The crowd was then prompted to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Brian Hartmann, celebrating 4/20 for a different reason this evening among friends. Dan Gerken then performed a solo version of Peter Tosh’s for Hartmann before taking setbreak with the rest of the band.

Second Set had a crowd that dissipated but filled up again quickly once the jam in ‘Spider Doom’ came to fruition, with Ben Pickering on guitar and Dan Gerken on keys. The jazzy prog-rock of ‘Snoop Tiger’ took the crowd throughout the extensive range of the band. Two tracks off the recent album Knuckles and Valleys, ‘September’ and ‘January’ sandwiched further improvisation, but a highlight at the end of the set was a cover of sadly defunct Canadian trio The New Deal’s ‘Back to the Middle’, the first track off their 2001 self-titled release. There is only one way to play The New Deal – loud and well, and with the speed and control of the original song. Seeing how this band has grown in the past four years has been remarkable, but to play such a prime and tight show, with a well-tailored setlist on a great night of celebration made for a show few will soon forget. I can’t wait to see them at Summercamp in May

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Timbre Coup, Bayou Cafe

Set 1: August > Improv > 55, Takes Awhile, June, Garden Grove >Improv > I Didn’t Know She Had a Moustache, Happy Birthday, Steppin Razor (Dan solo, for Brian Hartmann’s birthday)

Set 2: Spider Doom > Improv > Ronald Opus, Snoop Tiger, September, Verbal Kent > Improv >January, Back to the Middle*

Encore: Something About the Radio

* The New Deal