SXSW records

Phases and Stages


Among Friends (Lauan) A jam band is only as good as their live show. Seminal jam bands Phish and the Grateful Dead had touring to thank for their success, not albums. Wisely realizing this, Austin-based Larry has released this live album compiled from sets here at Antone's, and in jam-band mecca Boulder, Colorado. The nine songs and 70 minutes of original music here don't stray far from the jam-band formula: long tunes that explore a composition's outer reaches. At its best, this genre produces impromptu interplay and inspired instant composing. At its worse, it yields only wanking. On Among Friends, this local sextet falls somewhere in the middle of these two poles, yet leans toward the former. Showing their Austin influence, "Confusion Pie" has country flavors, while "Adelita" has a marked Latin influence. While less abstract and more hippie funk, "Take Your Chances" exudes some Phish influence, save for some grindy mouth-harp work. "Plenty" builds to an organic crescendo, yet ends like a stag prom date -- all dressed up and nowhere to go, with a halting segue into "On the Road." Like the harmonica, that tune's washboard is a welcome departure from the standard jam band instrumental lineup, even if it's not loud enough in the mix. With Among Friends, Larry distinguishes itself from other jam bands, although they still have a few roads to travel to become one of the influential ones. (Thursday, March 14, Scholz Beer Garten, 12:45am)

** .5

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