Tea Leaf Green
May 3, 2008
Tea Leaf Green brought its classic West Coast jam back east to Atlanta with a high-energy performance at Variety Playhouse. This band is touring hard, but seemingly has an endless supply of energy to drive home fan-favorites night after night, such as “The Garden (Part III),” “One Reason,” and “The Devil’s Pay.”
The show opened with “Lil Hood.” The energy grew quickly, thanks to skilled gradual tempo changes and use of crecendo. It transitioned smoothly into something a little more dark: “Piss it All Away.”
The band took those intense rhythms to an equally serious level with the next song, “Faced with Love.” Don’t let the harmonica fool you: the lyrics to “Faced With Love” are rueful and sad. But the music is infectious, and the song thrives.
TLG transitioned into “Precious Stone,” during which Trevor Garrod, keys and harmonica extraordinaire, joined Josh Clark, known for his phishy guitar licks, and rocked it out for a calculated but completely untamed jam. “Precious Stone” also featured notable bassist Steve Adams of ALO, whose artistry throughout the show cannot be understated.
“Precious Stone” was followed by “Drink of Streams,” which showcased the talents of drummer Scott Rager, and man, can he jam!
“Drink of Streams” transitioned into “Reservoir,” driven by Adams. Like on “Lil Hood,” the band built crowd energy with repetitious grooves and entertaining visual effects via lighting. After “Reservoir,” Trevor led the band through tight tempo changes for “Barnacle Betty.”
The first set closed with the ever playful “Sex in the 70’s,” but only after they had played “Sex,” into “Everyday (Buddy Holly cover),” back into “Sex,” then into “Kali-Yuga,” and finishing up with “Sex” again! Smooth transitions were the name of the game, and the band’s stamina throughout the “Sex > Everyday > Sex > Kali-Yuga > Sex” would have made the Allman Brothers jealous! “Kali-Yuga,” with heavy percussion and lead guitar, presented a sharp contrast to the harmonica and keys of the first half of the set.
The second set opened at a slower pace with “The Devil’s Pay.” But in classic jam fashion, the guys built pure rock-n-roll energy using funky bass and rippin’ guitar behind lyrics about the burning of a whorehouse. Next, Trevor and Steve kicked it up a notch for “Let Us Go.” The tight, happy performance was reminiscent of punchy early 80’s Talking Heads….plus harmonica. But it worked and the crowd loved it.
“Let Us Go” transitioned into “Las Vegas,” another crowd favorite. Throughout the set, the band members’ connection on stage was obvious through the meter changes and key changes. After that, they played an incredibly danceable, soul-stirring “Don’t Curse the Night.” This tune, like the instrumental in “Let Us Go” contained something a la Talking Heads….maybe the ridiculously awesome Tina-Weymouth bass. “Don’t Curse” was also punctuated by automatic percussion that really drove home the performance.
Next, Scott led the transition into “Papa’s in the Back Room.” This song had an absolute control over the audience. After “Papa’s,” the guys went retro again with “Don’t Do It,” originally recorded by Marvin Gay in ’64 and brought to extreme popularity by The Band in the early 70s. As a transition into the next piece, “The Garden (Part III),” Trevor teased “Earth and Sky” for some screaming fans in the front row. The second set closed with “Invasion,” “Carter Hotel,” and “Red Ribbons,” during which Josh and Steve jammed out back-to-back.
After a short break, TLG (and then Trevor wearing a steer mask…yes, a head-covering mask of a cow) came back for “I’ve Got a Truck,” a high-energy “One Reason,” and “Panspermic De-Evolution.” Look for TLG to continue to grow a fanbase particularly in the college scene, thanks to immense talent, rapport with its audience, relentless energy, and an unyielding schedule of festival performances this summer.