There was a lot of talk about the “Birds of a Feather” from the first night second set opener but in my opinion this trio takes the cake as the highlight jam reel of the Bader Field weekend. The overall jam out of “Crosseyed” is nothing to write home about but nonetheless it came out with blazing Trey licks and gets the energy level cranking. As the Crosseyed jam hit cool down mode and we entered into A-major bliss, there were a few hints to the “Slave to the Traffic Light” lurking around the corner. A song typically reserved as a set closer, Slave is a fan favorite both for its old school appeal (one of their oldest songs in their arsenal) and the shear beauty of the jam so it’s presence only two songs in is a rare but much appreciated treat.
One great aspect about placing Slave in an early slot is that instead of running out of steam at the end of a show, they are just getting going and it allowed the gang to throw some extra sauce at this Slave jam. And as the song peaks and comes to a close, they turn on a dime and start up “Light”. A song that at first I did not care for but it has grown on me, especially with some of the jams it’s produced recently. It has clearly turned into one of their favorite launch pads and is unquestionably one of the MVPs so far of 2012. Where Crosseyed and Slave may have been relatively standard versions albeit played with great energy and key ingredients to this 2012 highlight, “Light” is the clear improvisational winner.
Their confidence in stepping out of the box, letting songs and jams breathe is on full display in this “Light”. Not too long after pulling into the jam Trey sparks up the beginning melody to the Dizzy Gillespie cover, “Manteca”, and as soon as Fishman picks up on Trey’s recommendation the jazz jam ensues. For a short while we get the full on groove and lyrics from this classic cover but it quickly dissolves back into an energetic run setting the stage and crowd abuzz with anticipation. Our first real transition away from this jazzy section is a series of funky licks that feature Trey and Page grooving off of one another with nasty chord progressions that take us to funky town. They then pull back into a dissonant jam filled mostly with staccato notes from Trey and great comp action from Page while Fishman’s drum pace keeps the dancing vibe alive. All along Gordon hitting a lot of high registered bass notes, mimicking Trey at times with his frantic pace. Next comes they layer the Crosseyed chorus, “Still Waiting”, over top of the “Light” chorus bringing this trio full circle and adding in one final peak essentially put the crowd into the palm of their hand for the rest of the evening.