Saratoga Springs has so much music in the summer, particularly at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, it can be easy to overlook the local music that is found throughout the town nearly every night of the week. Whether you are looking for music to follow dinner, a free show in the park or a stand alone night of live music, there’s something for everyone in Saratoga. A fine example of Saratoga in the summer took place this past Saturday at Putnam Den with Assembly of Dust and opener Capital Zen.
After a warmup from Capital Zen, the crowd filtered outside for some fresh air, then back inside once Assembly of Dust made their way to the stage shortly after 11 pm. Opening up with “Sometimes”, the Strangefolk original had a twist with a little jazz fusion added in from Adam Terrell, followed by a lengthy “Tavern Walker”, a nod to the band’s street team. Twenty minutes later, we had only heard two songs, a fantastic glimpse at a band who was relaxed and patient with their songs. “Arc of the Sun”, a track off Some Assembly Required and featuring Mike Gordon on the studio version, gave a mellow contrast to the previous songs, but “Samuel Aging” was where the band jumped right back into the thick of things, diving into the tune and finding plenty of space to stretch the song out.
“Elixir” featured Jason Crosby on the keys; Crosby, who has played with both Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, gave a jazzier taste to normally rocked out songs, yet still played the fiddle on “Corpus Christi” , a very multi-talented member of Assembly of Dust. “Filter” capped off the set with the ‘Funky Chicken’ dancing crowd and now-sweating band singing in unison the “Doo-doo-do-do-do” refrain, literally melting in the moment. The set kept getting more rocking as each song unfolded and progressed. With a great flow to the songs, the jams were built from within each individual song, a true jamband set.
Among all this great music, it should be noted that the band and well lit audience were a great accent to the evening. Wes Rizzo’s lights had a 1960s Flower Power vibe that shone down on the band and crowd equally, using the walls to illuminate all. Speaking with Reid Genauer during setbreak, he spoke of the Putnam Den as “Great, it’s an awesome energy. We were in a small little theater and it was pristine and sort of quiet, and very resident, last night. Tonight it’s back into the bar brawl scene, not brawl literally, but you know, the gritty bar – as much as I love the serenity and acoustics of a nice theater, I’m just at home in the context of a bar, I’m a happy camper. And the vibe is awesome out there.”. Clearly enjoying the night and digging the vibe the crowd was putting off, the band was relaxed and took a well earned break between sets.
Second set opened with “Truck Farm” and “Bus Driver”, leading up to a resounding version of “Roads”, a classic tune that any live music fan can identify with. The line “I don’t know where I’m going but I’ll get there, yeah! Sometimes I’m wondering where will it be?” has broad appeal and led to the crowd singing/shouting along with the refrain. A special treat, thanks in part to bassist John Leccesse, was Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Woodstock”, a perfect tune for AOD and leading to another sing-a-long amid sustained dancing in the crowd.
“Mud Spring Draw” featured Crosby’s fiddle once again, while “Poland” included a “down down diggy diggy” vocal jam, and whether it was organic or rehearsed did not matter – the crowd was into it, the band was meshing and drummer Andy Herrick held down the beat to keep the jam progressing – this was the highlight of the night, among many other worthy candidates. The encore began with “Things That Fly” with just Reid and Adam on guitar, gentle and stretched out perfectly. “Fountain” and “Harrower” followed, both jammed out just as nearly the entire night was, closing in a three-song encore at nearly 25 minutes. The crowd cheered for more while catching their breath – the night was a non-stop rocker from start to finish, a great way to kick off the summer in Saratoga.
Assembly of Dust is also playing at Gathering of the Vibes in Seaside Park, CT, in late July. Before then, you can catch them at The Friendly Gathering in Windham, Vermont, this coming weekend, June 28-29. Reid mentioned, regarding Assembly of Dust playing, “Our good friend and longtime manager Bob Kennedy is involved with that in some way shape or form. And I think its BYOB which is nice.” AOD and BYOB at a festival – a great combo.
Set 1: Sometimes, Tavern Walker, Arc of the Sun, Samuel Aging, Elixir, Vaulted Sky, Corpus Christi, Second Song, Filter
Set 2: Truck Farm, Bus Driver, Roads, Mama, Woodstock, Poland, Mud Spring Draw, Honeycreeper
Encore: Things That Fly*, Fountain, Harrower
*just Reid and Adam