It’s been six years since the last Ominous Seapods show, but after two sell out shows in Cohoes and a first time performance at Brooklyn Bowl, you’d be remiss not to wonder why this doesn’t happen more often. With fans flying in from as far as the Carolinas, Germany, and the west coasts of America and Australia (where gitarist/vocalist Dana Monteith has made his home in Perth), three impressive reunion shows found audiences reuniting and excited for all that was in store. As Mike Wren mentioned in passing that night “Every so often, it’s a bookmark you come back to,” and perhaps that best describes the audience support and reverence for the Seapods.
The Ominous Seapods have a lasting legacy of influence on musicians in the jam scene. They are held with reverence by fans and music journalists who are still enamored (and rightly so) by the jam scene of the ’90s, and continue to inspire awe and musicians today. Promoter Greg Bell of Guthrie/Bell Productions spoke on January 12 about his history with the band dating back to 1992, and was all smiles throughout the night, having brought back to Albany the elder statesman of the jam scene. Despite it being a warm night outside, it was far from a warm up night inside, as the band hit the ground running and hit all the marks, right off the bat.
Cohoes Music Hall was the perfect venue for this show, as it has been for Max Creek, Garcia Project, and soon Turkuaz and Melvin Seals with JGB. The fourth oldest music venue in New York, the 1871 hall has undergone a transformation in the past two years and become an excellent show location that fits perfectly between clubs like The Hollow and Putnam Den, and larger rooms such as The Egg. So with two sold out shows, bassist Tom Pirozzi’s 50th birthday and a reunion of Plattsburgh Mutants on tap, the Music Hall was abuzz early thanks to Stone Brewing’s DidgeriDoom IPA, a nod to Monteith, who moved to Perth, Australia following the last Seapods show in 2011 at Valentines. Monteith also sported an AC/DC shirt, perhaps a subtle reference to their then-final show where they performed “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll).”
Opening up with “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon,” the first big jam of the night came from “Theme for Another Enlightened Rogue” and the segue into “The Guide to Roadside Ecology” with Dana getting down to business early, and often. A few acoustic numbers came next, notably “Branch’s House” which grew smoothly into “The Pull from Adirondack Blue” and “Waiting 4 the Bomb to Drop” and Pirozzi and guitarist/vocalist Max Verna driving the set ending sandwich of “Sally” > “Cali” > “Sally.”
The energy continued to flow out of the setbreak with “Leaving the Monopole” getting checked off everyone’s ‘must hear’ list. The Seapods’ signature song still finds fans today who visit the ‘Single Stick’ in Plattsburgh and explore the lore that influenced the band’s writing. A debut of “Cumberland Blues” caught a few off guard, but it was pleasantly surprising that the band chose to throw a new cover into the mix this weekend. The jam of the set was around “Schizophrenic Rain,” which bookended “Oberon and Titania” and “Passengers En Route” and served as the most fluid and dialed in portions of the night, with a keys/bass/drums jam in the midst of the medley. A rockin “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” kept the flow of the night going, with “Hey Donnie Osmond” closing the set out. An encore of “That’s How they Got Along” and “Michael Murphy 3” left a great deal of tunes in the tank for Saturday night.
Setlist, January 12, 2018
Set 1: I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, 1/4 lb. Hot Dog, Theme For Another Enlightened Rogue ->
The Guide To Roadside Ecology, Millworker’s Lament*, Long Black Veil**, Guardian Angels*** -> Candy Cane Flame***, Branch’s House**** -> Jam -> The Pull From Adirondack Blue, Waiting 4 The Bomb To Drop, Sally Simpson -> First Day In California ->. Sally Simpson,
Set 2: Econobrain intro^ -> Old GP, Leaving The Monopole -> Counting Time -> Cumberland Blues^^, Schizophrenic Rain -> Oberon And Titania -> Passengers En Route -> Schizophrenic Rain -> Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley, Hey Donnie Osmond
Encore: That’s How They Got Along, Michael Murphy 3
*Max solo acoustic
**Lefty Frizzell cover, first time played, without Mangini, Verna on acoustic guitar and Pirozzi on upright bass
***Verna on acoustic guitar
****Monteith on acoustic guitar
^with Doug Burns
^^Grateful Dead cover, first time played
Entering night two with much colder weather at their back, fans returned to Cohoes Music Hall sporting a variety of flannel on par with an L.L. Bean outlet. “Jet Smooth Ride” lifted the crowd up and into the night. “Cary Suite” and “Final Destination” had the band finding the pocket and staying there, jamming without the drawback (or benefit, if you will) of ADD. The jams were even more on point and didn’t let up or evaporate before their time. The set ending pair of “Anything is Possible” with Monteith on egg beater and “Blackberry Brandy”
A second set that flowed freely was on tap, starting with a more than 15 minute “Jump for Joy” opener. Monteith took some time to mention how hard it was for him to leave Perth to get to New York for these shows, but expressed casual gratitude for the response from fans. A string of segues led to a 12 minute “John Henry’s Hammer” and a second “Pull from Adirondack Blue” in as many nights. “Bong Hits and Porn,” one of the best song titles ever, was slid into a sweet groove and held on for nearly 15 minutes and found Monteith back on eggbeater.
For the final song of the night, Pirozzi took over on guitar for “Ship,” and led the crowd in the sing-along. With fans cheering for one more, my friend David leaned over and said “You can’t finish the weekend without “Leaving the Monopole,” and lo and behold, they would not. Once again, we got the Seapods tune, and the fans who were only there that night revelled, danced and sang the words as easily as they did in 1995.
Setlist: January 13, 2018
Set 1: Jet Smooth Ride, Cary Suite, Final Destination > She Makes the Journey, Serpents in the Sand, Railyard Scene > Somedays > Stephen O’Rourke > The Fiesta, Anything Is Possible (w double Eggbeater jam) > Blackberry Brandy
Set 2: Jump For Joy, Sad Corner > What’s the Buzz, Keep in Mind > Waiting Room > Gunshot Static > John Henry’s Hammer > The Pull from Adirondack Blue, Bong Hits & Porn*
Encore: Ship, Leaving the Monopole
* with Monteith on eggbeater
For the final set of the reunion, a performance at Brooklyn Bowl was the perfect closing to the weekend. Owned by former Wetlands owner Pete Shapiro, having Ominous Seapods perform at Brooklyn Bowl brings them full circle and to a stage built on the shoulders of former Wetlands staples like themselves. The performance was an opening slot for the Zen Tricksters, and would be a distilled, “best of” set compared to the previous two shows. Fan Gabe Sasso noted that the crowd ate up how tight the band sounded, with one standout highlight “Josephine’s Grand Motion” which was not played the previous two nights. And with the final note of “Bong Hits and Porn,” Mutants are back to waiting for the next reunion shows to be announced, and based on response from these shows, one would hope it will be less than six years between shows.
Setlist, January 14, 2018
Set 1: Blackberry Brandy, Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley, The Guide To Roadside Ecology, Michael Murphy 3, Josephine’s Grand Motion, Sally Simpson > First Day In California > Sally Simpson, The Pull From Adirondack Blue, Leaving The Monopole, Bong Hits And Porn