Whether it’s a song, a melody, or even a simple riff on the guitar, music has the power to sonically transport the listener to a time and place of wonderful memories that each of us hold near-and-dear to our hearts.
Friday evening at Woodland’s Tavern proved that this is more than simply a theory pulled out of thin air by a hoity-toity professor cloistered in some ivy-clad university.
Comprised of Austin Crumrine (guitar/vocals), Ryan Bertani (bass/vocals), Marko Manastyrskyj (keyboards/vocals), Dylan Aughe (drums/vocals) and Nate LaBine (bass/vocals), Electric Orange Peel wove a tapestry of notes for the fans that were, in a word, sublime. I’ll explain the “two bass player” thing in a bit…
With the scent of patchouli filling the venue, the energetic crowd brought the toast, while the band supplied the jam. They slathered it on thick and heavy, with the music ultimately melting around and over the edges.
Electric Orange Peel were there to celebrate the release of their debut album, “Seed.” While there are many elements to their sound that are reminiscent of early 1990’s era Phish, they have a style and timing that’s all their own.
As the lights went low, the noodling began. Manastyrskyi coaxed an ethereal chiming of church bells from his keyboards, as Crumrine let his fingers loosen up on his fretboard. After a few minutes of this, Aughe counted off the first number, as they opened the show with The Death of Koschei the Deathless from the new album.
The opening notes of this funky jam morphed into a carousel-feel, as the keyboards came to life. The serenity of the jam showcased exquisite sounds emanating from Crumrine and Manastyrskyi, while Aughe and Bertani carried the funky backbone. With the pace moving around, the staccato beats reminded me of Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself.” I was waiting for the road crew to bring out mini-trampolines for the band to jump on. Alas, this was not to be…
“Thank you. We are Electric Orange Peel,” said Crumrine, as the band launched into Psychedelic Easter Egg, also from the debut. Working the crowd, they picked up the tempo, causing many to dance rhythmically to the vibe. Greatly extending the tune, they channeled the Grateful Dead with a “Fire on the Mountain” groove that was majestic.
Tralee Drive had some wonderful tempo changes, delighting the crowd, with Manastyrskyi taking the lead on vocals. But, the anticipated jam never seriously coalesced into a viable thing, sounding almost forced. Maybe the band sensed this, as they slowed the pace, going mellow to finish the song. Clocking in at under ten minutes, this was the shortest song of the evening.
The moved directly into the fun-filled, funky groove of Dabs, getting the show right back on track. With the flow solidly in place, they got a bit spacey with a touch of Crumrine’s wah, as the tune built in intensity. The bodies dancing around the room was infectious, as more joined in on the fun.
Upon the conclusion of Dabs, Crumrine announced to the full room that this was Bertani’s final show, after four years with the band. With the bass laying down the groove, the rest of the band joined-in on the Bertani composition, Slide.
Morphing into a funk groove, the song sounded a bit forced. Sensing that it was bogging down, Aughe tattooed a jungle beat on the skins for the bridge. Bertani fed-off the jungle beat with funky bass work that was sublime. The rest of the band joined-in on the fun, with a slower funky jam that extended the song exponentially.
As the song finished, Bertani waved to crowd and smiled, before stepping backstage. LaBine (remember, I told you earlier that we’d get to him) stepped on the stage with his five-string bass, making for an almost seamless transition.
Intergalactic Acrobatics, from the new album, had a pronounced “Junta” era Phish vibe, with parts sounding eerily like “Fluffhead.” They broke the groove down into a funky mellowness, with LaBine showing that he’s more than capable providing the bottom end, complimenting the rest of the band.
Crumrine proceeded to take all of us on a sonic journey, before the tune morphed into a fast-paced country groove, ala Phish’s “My Poor Heart.” The crowd roared their approval at the conclusion, welcoming LaBine into the fold.
With LaBine laying down a funky, Spanish flavored funk groove, the band launched into Catorce. Midway through the jam, Crumrine broke his E-string, and quickly made his way off the stage to make repairs.
The remaining trio didn’t miss a beat, as they filled the void with an improvised jam, sans guitar. LaBine had a huge smile on his face, his chops on the bass shining through. Manastyrskyi coaxed weirdness from the ether within his keyboards, before Crumrine rejoined the band, singing “Uno, dos, tres, catorce,” to conclude the song.
“Thank you all. We love you all very much,” Crumrine said to the crowd, as the band walked offstage for a very short break. The crowd began chanting “One more set, one more set,” over and over, with the band returning to the stage less than ten minutes later.
The encore, for lack of a better term, encompassed two songs. Bertani rejoined the band on stage for the final act, as well.
The first of the tunes, Sir Heady Nelson and the Four Seasons, was from the new album. The ethereal beginning to this tune took me back in time, once again, to that “Junta/Pictures of Nectar” era that was Phish before they exploded nationally.
The weaved its way through the sonic universe with an intricate and, at times, delicate complexity that was rich in flavor. Soaring through a jazz-filled spacey jam, they brought everyone in for a safe landing with the cohesive melody of the song.
The country funkified groove of Stratify played to an all-too-familiar length of 20 minutes, which suited both the band and the crowd rather well. The juxtaposition of speeding up and slowing down the tempo, over and over throughout the tune was a fitting way to close out the evening.
The two-hour, twenty-minute set was filled with just nine songs. But, the impact of the musicianship on display is something that should be seen. No, let me rephrase that statement… it needs to be experienced “live.”
Electric Orange Peel came out swinging and hit this one out of the park, making their debut album release show a resounding success.
- The Death of Koschei the Deathless *
- Psychedelic Easter Egg *
- Tralee Drive
- Slide *
- Intergalactic Acrobatics *
- Sir Heady Nelson and the Four Seasons *
* denotes track from debut album
Electric Orange Peel – Sir Heady Nelson and the Four Seasons