Electron Lights Up Times Square Late Night
Electron brought their super group stylings to B.B. King Blues Club in the heart of Times Square a couple weeks ago as a chaser to STS9’s show a few blocks away. After a several year stretch of no activity, Electron (Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, Tom Hamilton, and Mike Greenfield) returned to much fanfare last year and have ridden the wave with several high profile performances in 2014, most notably a festival closing gig at Catskill Chill last month. This weekend plus run found them in D.C., New Haven, NYC, and finally Syracuse with the band paying tribute to a different musical influence nightly – Floyd, the Dead, Radiohead, and the B.B. King show was Beatles night.
After a Horizon Wireless set featuring Dan Lyons of Solaris on drums and a guest stint by Wiley Griffin of Mun in addition to a bizarre biting incident, the vibes were appropriately discomfiting while Electron was getting ready to take the stage. The set started off slightly subdued with the relative rarity “Therapy” opening the night, perhaps a nod to a certain doctor/erstwhile drummer who may have been in attendance. The mellow vibe (for Times Square nightlife anyways) continued with the Biscuits’ ballad “The City.” Although a catchy tune that remained stuck in my head the next day, conjuring up Coloradoan images of city views from mountain tops, the wistful number was a mediocre choice for a crowd primed to explode.
Thankfully, Magner soon dropped some electro synths and T-Ham shredded over Greenfield’s rock drum roll into party mode. The set really kicked into gear with the third song, “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night.” As a guaranteed dance inducer, the tune got the party started in a big way and segued smoothly into the first Beatles song of the night – the sprawling “Tomorrow Never Knows,” well suited to the open-ended jams that comprise Electron’s wheelhouse. Waves of distortion highlighted the exploratory segment.
“Kamaole Sands” seems to show itself at every Electron show and tonight looked to be no different, with the jaunty tune poking out of the “Tomorrow Never Knows” jam. But it was merely a fake out and the band smoothly dropped into “Rock Candy,” the familiar refrain building to a pleasant crescendo before climaxing into the “Ladies” ending. Out of the four bands to which Electron paid respect over the course of this run, the Beatles are perhaps the least comfortable fit stylistically. But “Dear Prudence” is “Dear Prudence” and despite being shoehorned in to an otherwise trance-laden set, it managed to elicit those magical emotions that Paul and John seemed to conjure at will.
The end of the set brought the energy right back with an extended version of the Brothers Past staple “Simple Gift of Man.” Any opportunity for T-Ham to take the reigns is welcome, but the whole band got into this one, producing one of the most cohesive and thematically elaborate jams of the night. A couple of Electron stalwarts closed out the set. “Grass is Green” featured a raucous drum & bass jam before a bombastic “Confrontation” ending brought the set to a high energy conclusion. It seemed as if the show might end on that note, but you can’t keep a good jam band down. Electron returned for a pair of tunes that tugged at the heartstrings and put a nice bookend to the set. The Beatles got a third nod with the crowd sing-(and hug)-along “Hey Jude,” before the essential Biscuits anthem “Home Again,” which featured a soaring middle jam reminiscent of Phish’s “Free.”