Downtown Albany celebrated in style on Saturday, September 29, with two birthdays and a first-time performance at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen. Formula 5 hosted the night, as the Upstate NY group helped close out one member’s birthday while ringing in another during an appropriate hometown throwdown. Warming things up for the night ahead was a new-to-Albany band, Swimmer.
Founded in the depths of rickety Plymouth State University basements in 2013, the funky, improvisational quartet has grown with the seasons and emerged on the scene as quite a contender in their genre. The Burlington, VT musicians have been able to corral flocks of fans from their shared bills with top tier performers like Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Adding Formula 5 to the mix, it only made sense that Albany and it’s strapping live music scene was their next destination to become acquainted with.
Aiming to set themselves apart from every other jam-band to emerge from the hippy depths of Vermont, Cotter Ellis (drums), Matt Dolliver (keys/sax), Joe Agnello (guitar) and Jack Vignone (bass) tapped into their truly zany nature, showing off their musical chops and refreshing individuality. It was their tasty covers of Frank Zappa’s “Son of Orange County” >”Trouble Every Day” that found all patrons swiveled in their barstools and cheering on foot, asking their neighbors what band was playing.
Ready to bring the high-energy festivities to the stage, birthday boys Matt Richards (keys) and Greg Marek (drums) along with Joe David (guitar) and James Woods (bass) brought their “Widespread’s Dead” covers to their NY fans. Their latest tour boasts an assortment of tracks from the well-loved artists Widespread Panic and Grateful Dead, with Formula 5 originals interwoven throughout the set.
Richards kicked off the night manning the mic for F5’s own “Bird Song” before tossing in an array of anticipated covers. Although Grateful Dead cover bands certainly aren’t lacking, you can’t help but smile and sing along whenever a Dead tune begins. Once Davis sang the opening notes of the Dead’s “Tennessee Jed,” there was nothing left for anyone to do but smile, smile, smile. Widespread Panic’s “Coconuts” acted as the fan-favorite pinnacle of the night as it was sandwiched between “Tennessee Jed” and a soothing take on “Terrapin Station.”
Normally celebrating the day after Thanksgiving at The Hollow, Formula 5 took the time to address the crowd for an announcement that their Black Friday gig would make the jump over to The Palace Theatre. On Friday, November 23 the quarter will support the Disco Biscuits during their two-night Albany run.
Swimmer Setlist: Murphy’s Law, Do it Myself > Son of Orange County* > Trouble Every Day*Jig -> Hyperbole, Curious Spaniard, Cornwallis *zappa cover
Formula 5 Setlist: Bird Song^-> Blue-> Bird Song^, Greta~-> Booher’s Pass, Tennessee Jed^ Coconuts~ Terrapin Station^ Nu-Gen*-> In The Sand-> Gettin’ Tough Again, Hot Box, Love Tractor~
^ Grateful Dead
~ Widespread Panic