Friday, July 6, 2007

Tortoise - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA July 5, 2007 early show

Remis Auditorium,Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA
Thursday July 5, 2007 (early show)

In the span of less than a week I was able to check off two of the "bands I needed to see" list (where is this list you ask? well I'll make one and post it). Last week I finally saw Wilco and last night it was Tortoise.

Myself and a few hundred aging hipsters that all must have to shuffle kids off to day care in the morning did the "early show". The later show was at 9:30. Anyhow, with our courier bags in hand, khaki pants and quick change into an old pair of chuck taylors (black - low) we eased our way in to the 380 capacity auditorium. The show was scheduled to be in the courtyard but was moved inside due to the looming weather. So I got in one line to have the ticket torn and then I shuffled in to the auditorium to catch indie rock icons, and Chicago natives (hey wilco is from Chicago as well!) Tortoise perform.

The early show was set to start at 630 and just a few minutes later the lights dimmed and the band took the stage. Now I could lay it out and say who played what and where but no member played just a single instrument over the course of the show. Facing the stage you had two smaller drum kits facing each other. To the back and, almost between the drum kits was a set of keyboards. To the left was guitar/bass as well as some cool vibraphone looking thing (I'll get to it) then over to the right in the back another guitar/bass rig and then the big vibraphone in front of that.

With various colorful backdrops projected on the screen the band would have enough visuals to cover anything they might want to perform from their now 13+ year musical career. As noted, nobody played the same thing instrument wise for more than a song. One of the drummers, John Herndon would go from the drums, to the vibes then back again. Jeff Parker would play guitar, bass, vibes rotating mostly guitar and bass with Doug McCombs. Dan Bitney was also all over but he did most of the keyboards and sequencing stuff while, some could argue "leader of the band" John McEntire again ran the gamut of instruments. That cool vibraphone thing I mentioned looked like a set of electric vibes and when the mallets struck the pads a small "led" light would glow for a split second. I was sitting up a few rows so I could look down on this and it had a cool effect.

The audience was very well behaved. You could hear a pin drop between songs or during crucial musical sequences. The band had a very full sound (as you'd expect with five members all chugging along). It was a visual and audio experience on many levels but then.....FIFTY FIVE minutes in the band leaves the stage. The audience does the obligatory niceties of clapping,whistling and whoop whooping and the band does come back out again. As they prepare for the encore the audience shouts out some requests to which John Herndon replies "keep them coming!". The band then does two more songs and with a casual wave they walk off again. 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Band members came across as grateful for the cheering and even said "thanks for coming so early". I realize there was a second show and you need to empty the theater out but it was hardly a rowdy crowd.

Barring the length of the set the music, the visuals and the setting were all great. I have no idea if the 9:30 set was different or longer. When the show first started I fell in love immediately and I wanted to stick around to see if I could get a ticket for the later show...but when I was walking out I was a little sour on the brevity.

Overall, musically it was terrific and I'll see them again..hopefully for a little longer set. I ran my smaller mics/recording gear as I was not sure of security having never been to the venue. So far the DAT sounds great as I was about 12 rows back dead center and the audience was nice and quiet.

As a side note:
Tortoise is currently working on a new record but late last year released an extensive box set.

Official site
myspace page

thanks for reading



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