Monday, August 3, 2009

Floored By Four (Nels Cline, Mike Watt) and M. Ward Played Central Park Summer Stage - Review, Pics, Setlist

On Saturday night, the rains managed to hold off just in time for an amazing evening at Central Park's Summer Stage. Not only was the gig free and the headliner a Mr. Matt Ward, but it was also the live debut of Nels Cline and Mike Watt's new project, Floored By Four. It was beautiful summer evening event that was not to be missed.

Floored By Four opened the night with a fantastic set that not only showcased all four member's talents, but ran the gamut stylistically as well. The tunes the band played could be described as everything from prog rock to ambient to experimental jazz. Suffice it to say, it was interesting.

Suprisingly, the audience seemed relatively uninformed of the band's considerable artistic legacy, and we overheard little beyond "some guy named Mike Watt with the guitarist from Wilco" as a descriptive phrase. Suffice it to say, kids, time to do your research. Nonetheless, the set was fantastic, and those who did appreciate it, did so in spades.

While the whole set was a blast, we have to say that the highlight of the set was the searing guitar work by Cline at the end of the set. Every time he reached a plateau that didn't seem possible to exceed, he would go further, and then some. It wasn't hurting things that Cline and Watt clearly have a long established dynamic, and play off of each other ridiculously well. We can't wait to hear this record.

M. Ward hit the stage promptly at 8:30, to a crowd that was devoutedly engaged with him. Dressed as the man in black, Ward delivered an hour twenty set that hit decidedly upon all the fan favorites. Apparently the set was the last one of the Ward's tour in support of Hold Time, and it was clear from the get go that he was there to deliver.

Despite some technical difficulties with an amp, Ward delivered an incredibly solid set. In fact, our only complaint would be that it was almost too solid. It seems that Ward has gotten so comfortable with his band and his carefully manicured sound, that there was little adventure or surprise to be had in his performance.

Granted, surprise is not necessarily the key to a good rock show, and Ward unquestionably gave exactly that. As always, his voice was in top form, the band was dead on, and the crowd loved every minute of it. Still, having seen Ward a number of times, we have to say that this was probably the most staid and reserved we've seen him. While there's little you can argue with given a fantastic free set from an amazing artist, we're just hoping that his outing with Monsters of Folk will put a bit more of an edge on him the next time he's in town.

M Ward Setlist
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Sad Song
One Hundred Million Years

Post War

Chinese Translation

Rave On (Buddy Holly Cover)

Never Had Nobody Like You

Hold Time
Jailbird

To Save Me

Poor Boy, Minor Key
Poison Cup

Fool Says

Magic Trick

Big Boat

Bean Vine Blues (John Fahey Cover)

Fisher Of Men

Requiem

Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry Cover)
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Helicopter

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To Go Home

4 comments:

Patricia said...

"Rave on" is a Sonny West cover, although it might be most typically recognized from the Buddy Holly (hit) version

Anonymous said...

Great shots.

Anonymous said...

"Some guy named Mike Watt."
Probably would have helped if the emcee (Corny O'Connell of WFUV) had had the sense or the courtesy to mention that Watt was a founding member of the Minutemen in his introducing the band.
Also noticed that he had to read their names off of a cue card at the end of the set.
Doesn't surprise me.
As much as I like WFUV, they seem to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to the true avant-garde and punk ... that is stuff that is not "safe."
Nice to see someone appreciated Floored by Four. I heard a lot of comments from people who thought it was boring.
I thought it was great.
And I agree about M. Ward seeming a little staid.

Anonymous said...

I went there to see Watt and Co. and wasn't diappointed! The long piece that was broken down into four sections with Bowne using mallets put the crowd to sleep and would have better suited for a more focused audience. Maggot Brain was killer and should have pleased everyone. Tried to keep an open mind for M. Ward but was quickly bored. His stuff is ok for my living room but not for standing in Central Park.