I took a nap before the show that night and almost slept through it. I set an alarm but that didn’t matter. I eventually got hot and remembered I was still in my jeans and then quickly realized it was for a reason. I left my house at 8:45pm and drove as fast as safety would allow to the Crystal Ballroom. Thankfully it didn’t take long to get there and I found street parking close to the venue. I would normally walk but time was critical.
Getting into the Crystal Ballroom was much quicker this time around. This time the line didn’t wrap around the block, it barely made it out of the lobby. Still one at a time through the metal detector but this time just way fewer people than when seeing Yonder Mountain String Band in January. The line should have been an indication, the place wasn’t very busy. It was close to show time and I had no problem getting a prime spot in front of the stage. Even as the show started there was plenty of room to move around. You couldn’t go wild but certainly there was enough room to groove.
A really good set list even if I thought it was short one. I missed the opening act so that is certainly one reason I wished KDTU played longer. Good mix of some old songs and new stuff from Gnomes and Badgers. Such good funk, soul and groove. The band members really jell well together.
It seemed as soon as the set started it was over. The penultimate song I’m Your Biggest Fan led into what would be the final song of the show. As the groove got going on the segue it started to sound familiar. Very quickly I realized it was Jessica by the Allman Brothers Band. Nailed it! They played that song so well and gave it a great KDTU twist with all the horns and fat grooves. For Boogaloos we got a dance show as well.
It was such a high energy show that night. Karl ended the show with a small speech about the times we live in. He said something that stuck with me and I have repeated to many people already. It’s not important to be right but correct. We need to talk to each other in a civil way. When we do that we can solve any challenges we face.
While not as long a set as I would have liked it was an amazing night of music. I walked out of there and had such energy from the set. My soul felt better as well. It was filled with love and confident we could come together and make peace. The power of music really amazes me.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Friday, February 21st 2020 Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
Not my first show in Portland but still a pretty memorable one. A year ago at this time I was actually here in Portland to see KDTU at Aladdin Theater. Just like then it was a part of his west coast winter tour. Last year I wanted to do some traveling and hadn’t seen the family in a few years so thought it would be a great opportunity to travel. This year Karl upgraded the venue immensely and it is only four blocks from my new home. My what a difference a year can make.
The show was on a Saturday so I planned to explore my own city like I would any other when I travel to see concerts. For a winter day the weather wasn’t that bad so I took the opportunity to hike. I packed a few essentials and headed north to Lark Press for some letter press. The last few months are pretty heavy in terms of birthday cards. I was out and needed to stock up. The food up north here is pretty interesting so I made a point to stop for lunch while in the neighborhood.
Thankfully I didn’t have to stray far from N Williams Ave. to find something to eat and drink. Right around the corner I found Lompoc Brewery and their Fifth Quadrant location. This is the actual brewery operations. Typical modern brewery facility with tall ceilings, concert and wood everywhere. The food was really good but neither of the beers blew my doors off. In fact I couldn’t even give them average ratings. Having said that I would go back. Good atmosphere, food and plenty of other beers to explore on the menu.
Being a mini-vacation I took a very relaxing nap in the middle of the afternoon. This being KDTU I knew it was going to be a later night. Portland seems to be pretty liberal on their late night parties so I knew it would go past midnight. Another pre-game event was dinner at Danwei Canting to fuel the body for a night of grooving.
Revolution Hall is a new place for me but I was super excited to see the show here. Four blocks from my house is hard to pass up. I can literally stumble home. I can walk home before an Uber will pick me up. This just amazes me. I knew before I walked in the place it is a renovated school. Some of the school has been carved up for office space but the old theater has been transformed into a concert hall. Complete with lockers on the outside walls to store your crap in. All retail and fans co mingled in the halls which is an interesting experience. Its crowded just like my old high school was.
The Dip was actually pretty cool and opened for the band. Another soul and funk kind band right in line with KDTU. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality acts I am seeing as openers these last few shows.
By the time KDTU took the stage I was so relaxed and ready to just groove. For part of the show I just sat in my chair and grooved to the music. The entire nights performance was great with a lot of energy from the band and the crowd. I do think the change of venue lifted the bands spirits which allowed them to play that much better tonight.
As I expected it was almost midnight before the houselights came up and it was time to head home. Being how things are all located I stopped at Voodoo Too for some donuts before taking a very long and very well deserved nights rest. Sunday was going to be a day of recovery for me.
Karl Dension’s Tiny Universe
Saturday, January 27th 2018
Revolution Hall – Portland, OR
Start time at 10:38pm
. Allman Brothers cover
The Bridge (really amazing jam in the middle of the song)
Melville (? off the new album)
Set over at 12:29am
Encore starts at 12:32am
House lights at 12:40am
I love a good concert. Checking my calendar I knew Gov’t Mule was playing the Warrner on Saturday which I wanted to hit and then saw the Karl Denson show at the 9:30 Club the day before. Karl was doing his spring tour and for a few dates with Melvin Seal sitting in on keys for certain dates. Seeing the two together was enough reason for me to get my ticket.
I just saw Karl in early February. That was out in Portland for a quick Saturday show. That performance was really good. I flew out on Saturday and was back to work on time Tuesday morning. That show was really killer so I was looking forward to seeing them on my home turf.
The local opening act wasn’t half bad. Of Tomorrow had their moments of genius but I didn’t think it was as good as The Main Squeeze from Portland who in my opinion killed it late that night. The band also had this gimmick about giving away a unicorn if you gave your email up to a mailing list. Not many people showed up to see them in the beginning but by the end of their set the place started to fill out. Never did it get to crowded during either performance which was fine with me. I spent my time up on the balcony with plenty of room to dance without worrying about the person next to me.
Alan Evans was again manning the drums and really had a good rhythm. I am glad I keep seeing him so much after all these years. Early Soulive is still some of the best music I have in my collection. With Alan continuing in these diverse rolls I think it makes him a better musician as well. All night the band did a good job of mixing the old with the new. Near the end of the set they finally played some stuff from The Bridge. KDTU was another band from that era that I fell in love with.
Karl has toured with other acts regularly in addition to his duties with his name sake KDTU. Besides Phish I can’t think of another band I have seen so quickly that wasn’t a stint at the same venue. Show was really good and I left satisfied with the performance. The show got a pretty late start and went well past what I thought it would. In the end we got a solid performance with some high lights from his early work. Throw on top of that Alan Evin and then Melvin Seals sitting in on keys for a few performances and it was a night worth remembering.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with Melvin Seal
Friday, May 19th 2017
9:30 Club – Washington DC
Set 1 (start at 10:50 pm)
Late in fall bands tend to announce their winter tour schedule. Winter is a good time to see some kick ass bands in small indoor venues. When Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe posted their winter tour they had a tone of dates on the west coast, including a stop in Portland on a Friday. Checking my calendar this was a perfect opportunity to see a show and spend the weekend with the family in Vancouver. I remember booking my flight for this trip while driving down to Asheville to see The New Mastersounds and drink some awesome beer.
While I realize my time was short with the family I certainly made the most of that limited time. It took a lot longer to get to PDX then I wanted. My flight to SFO wasn’t a problem, other than being six hours, it was the connection to PDX that got delayed. The show didn’t start till 9 so there was still plenty of time to see the family and catch the start of the show even with my flight delay. Our plans for Friday kept evolving as my flight status was updated but we managed to make it to Associated. Some really good brick oven pizza and surprisingly tacos as well. The crust was crispy and the flavor combos very unique. After this Bobby dropped Tracy and I off at the Aladdin Theater for the show.
The Aladdin Theater is old, no way around it. Rather small and hasn’t been updated in many many years. The venue certainly shows its age at this point. Late in the show Karl even made a comment about the venue. They took a bunch of promo photos and he didn’t seem particularly happy with the theater as the backdrop. I believe he said they were “to cheap” about finding a more appropriate photo location. I would agree with all the reviews in that the seats suck. When we got in we immediately headed to the small bar to the left which was nuts to butts. The show hadn’t even started and the bar was crowed. Tracy muscled her way to the bar and got a drink while I chatted with some fellow patrons. We eventually grabbed a seat down front and waited for the show to start.
The Main Squeeze was the opening act and I honestly didn’t have much hope for them. I know you shouldn’t go in with preconceived ideas but still. When they finished I was totally a fan. They had a good selection of songs and really got the place going. They were in the same vain as KDTU so it really fit the night in term of energy. Eventually KDTU took the stage and I was shocked to see Alan Evans on drums. I just saw him less then a month ago playing with The New Mastersounds. It was so cool seeing him playing with Karl. It is usually Karl that is always sitting in with other bands so it was nice seeing Alan sitting in with Karl for a change. One thing that we quickly noticed was the band was all very dapper. Everyone was in a suite and honestly I don’t know how they did it. It was just to damn hot to be sweating in a three piece on stage all while performing. KDTU was on fire that night and really had a groove going. Its been years since I have seen KDTU and I was disappointed at all. I have kept up with Karl’s many other side projects but there is just something about seeing his band that is so satisfying. His 2002 album The Bridge is still one of my all time favorite albums. What a great performance.
Saturday thankfully was a full day with the family which was exactly what I wanted. It was a lazy morning with everyone sleeping in but slowly the house awoke and was a hive of activity. Bobby got some work done, Tracy good some breakfast and the kids and I watched the new Ghostbusters. A true highlight of the trip was sitting at the breakfast table that morning eating with the family. I remember at one point just starring at the kids. I have been lucky to see them grow up and cant wait to see who they are as adults.
After a hearty breakfast we started the days activities. Fist up was Powell’s Books which is the largest independent book store. They say it is an entire city block but not really. Even without being a full city block the sheer size of the place is impressive and worth a visit. While not much of a book worm I found some good station and the rare book collection was cool to see. I have never seen one of these in any book stores so it was cool seeing some books that are well over 100 years old. They even have a printing machine to print any book you want to create and for on demand printing for independent authors.
After this Tracy and I started a brewery tour of Vancouver. They knew I was coming out before Christmas so this was my gift from them to me which was cool. Fist stop and what ended up the best in my opinion, was Loowit Brewing Company. They are a small shop in the old section of Vancouver. Not an extremely deep selection but some real quality stuff including several GABF award winners. I particularly liked their Tiger Squadron Pale Ale.
Next up was Old Ivy Brewery. This place really reminded me of Cheers or something from the 80’s. The place was pretty dead, granted it was around 3pm but it was a Saturday. We only stayed for one beer here before moving on. We thought about some food but the next place had much better food Tracy said. There are a lot of breweries in the area, especially Portland. Just skip this one and move on to something else.
Last stop of the night was Heathen Brewing Feral Public House which is the brewpub for Heathen. Washington alcohol laws are different from Virginia but what I gather this means is kids are allowed in the place during all business hours. Here the place was hoping in the early evening hours. We bellied up to the bar and started right in with several apps and a few beers. With all the choices I was tempted to do a sampler but stuck to my guns on avoiding them and got a full glass of Kunkle’s Dunkle. Maybe it was the weather but I have been drinking more porters, stouts, dunkles, anything really dark the last few months. The apps we got where also very good.
And just like that it was time to head back to the house for dinner. Tracy was doing a brisket in the crock pot for tacos which was awesome! She did a really good job with the meat and all the fixing. I stuffed my face full. From all the drinking that afternoon I had a slight buzz and was starving. The appetizers from Heathen where good but this really hit the stop. After dinner Bobby and I spent some time in the garage catching up. When you get him alone and really sit down with him, he is really kind thoughtful and has some good insight on life. With the kids to bed it was time for some adult fun with Bobby this time.
He and I headed out to play some classic arcade games. We first tried Ground Kontrol but as we pulled up there was a line out the door waiting to get in. The weather was cold and drizzly, we were not about to wait in a line to play some video games. Google to the rescue we found QuarterWorld across town. Unfortunately there was a small cover to get in but totally worth it. We played classics like Joust, Fix-It Felix Jr., Space Invaders, TMNT, and Galaga to name but a few of the offerings. Oh and did I mention pinball up the wazoo. We played so much we actually closed the place down at 1am. After a long night of gaming you work up an appetite so we headed down the block to Zack’s Shack for some awesome hotdogs. They actually don’t close till 3am on the weekend so it worked out perfectly before heading back to the house.
The next morning came way to early. Three nights straight of non-stop activity was finally starting to catch up to me. The kids had a church function they couldn’t miss so Bobby took the kids and Tracy dropped me off. My flight left PDX at 1:30pm unfortunately with a 6 hour layover in SFO. When I booked my ticket I didn’t realize I would be flying during the Super Bowl. Thankfully I landed with plenty of time before the start and enough after to enjoy the entire game in the United Lounge. While the audio was hard to hear it was easy to follow the action. At the half I really thought Atlanta was going to have a blow out so to see the Patriots come back and win it was pretty amazing. I am not a football fan by any means but that was a great game to watch.
My free ticket almost wasn’t worth it. My flight didn’t leave SFO till 9:30 or something like that. I arrived early actually just before 6am. A quick Uber ride home and I actually had time for a quick nap before getting ready for work. I was surprisingly awake all day despite my whirlwind weekend on the west coast.
I think in the future I will take more of this shorter style of vacation. It saves on vacation time and costs less. This will allow me to visit more places and see more things then if I stayed a week in one or two places. The hardest part of the trip was not being able to spend more time with the family. I think keeping it busy with everyone and doing individual things was a good way to do it. I hope to go back sooner rather then later and of course Bobby and Tracy encouraged me to stay longer next time.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Friday, February 3rd 2017
Aladdin Theater – Portland, OR