Live at Folsom Field
By Rob Theriaque
November 14, 2002
Are we spoiled? There's really little argument to be made here- of course we are. We are allowed to tape every performance (with few exceptions), the band tours almost incessantly, and we've even gotten our hands on recordings we were never meant to hear. Why is it, then, when we are provided with a new official release, we nitpick every track to the last? Perhaps we are spoiled in a different way, as well- we have heard what this band is capable of.
We've all heard the Everyday arguments a hundred times- I won't rehash them here. I was afraid that I made my judgment on the album based on my bias against the Everyday, so I listened to the other songs a few times, then to the album as a whole, then just the Everyday tracks, etc. I truly wanted to get the feel for the musicianship, the energy, and the band itself, rather than what was being played.
First off, the musicianship is, as always, exceptional. The intricacies of music that were missing from the studio are found live on the Everyday tracks. The play between Boyd and LeRoi is found, even if the sound mix doesn't bring it to its full potential. A comparison of Stefan's work between Listener Supported and Live at Folsom Field is stunning- he is truly becoming a master. Carter Beauford has been the best drummer in the world in my eyes for a long time- nothing changes here. Even when he makes mistakes ("Bartender"), you're have to back the track up a bit to verify you heard correctly. Dave chips in his usual solid performance on guitar, although he's a little lazy with the vocals at times.
When this band is playing a song they love, it comes across. There's a spike in energy that's almost palpable. Songs like "JTR" and "Warehouse" bring this out- the aura of the song brings a smile to your face matching the one plastered on each band member. This energy, unfortunately, is not even close to consistent throughout the show, and this, I believe, is one of the major gripes people have with the 2001 tour- the lack of consistency in this department.
Okay, so I've laid out what seems to be a positive vibe for this show. Why will I rarely spin this in my CD player?
The mix for Live in Chicago is what keeps those discs out of rotation. Is that the case here? I don't think so- while this mix still isn't on par with the first live release (Live at Red Rocks) it's a step back in the right direction.
I search for reasons to like this show, and that, in itself, is the reason I'm looking for. I need to search for a reason to really like this release. Something about it just doesn't click for one reason or another- the Ladies, the Everyday-heavy setlist Whatever it is, I think people have been trying pin this down on message boards across the internet since the release.
When we get a live release, either consciously or subconsciously we expect the best of the band (even though we knew this recording was planned in advance). July, 11, 2001 was not a great show for this band- one could have as easily closed their eyes and pointed to a date on the calendar to choose it. Let me draw a sports analogy. Let's say a team decided they were going to film a specific game and release it regardless of the outcome. Nothing spectacular happens- the team makes some mistakes, maybe they win, maybe they lose, but overall it was just another game. This, to me, is Folsom Field. One would think that the band would let this happen naturally- something amazing happens at a show- some combination of energy, crowd interaction, weather- it doesn't matter- makes them get together after the show and say "This has to be a live release." This is the case for Red Rocks. It hasn't been the case with any full-band live release since then- all have had some sort of planned recording involved.
This is what we're waiting for- that special show where it all comes together-
one worthy of being tagged for release as an example of what these guys are
capable of. We're waiting for the band to release World Series Game 7 where
Dave hits a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, not game 64 of a 162 game
season where he goes 2-5 with a couple of singles.
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