"Conformity is nice but it will never tell you twice to live for fun!!!" - Stoops
The carnival came to the ultra sold out Bowery Ballroom in New York City for the largest Earth Day celebration. There were fire swallowers, people dressed in costume, and even popular musicians such as Page McConnell lurking through the crowd. All here to see the rapidly rising jam saviors from Burlington take the stage in one of their most important gigs to date. It seems just like yesterday when another band from Burlington saved music after the Grateful Dead bowed out. RAQ has been flying strong under the radar for some time now, and it was nice to see about 700 people pack the venue, all in support of this high performance rock n' roll band.
I don't think that many people knew what they were in for when they went to the front of the stage to see Touchpants. Most people, like me, were lured to the venue early to see Jon Fishman perform once again. But Touchpants came out lewd, distasteful, rude, and down right funny. They are not for the faint of heart. Their songs consisted of ripping on the girl in the front row because she "purposely wanted people to see her cleavage," or telling other girls throughout the crowd that "they have to lose 90 lbs., no seriously 90 lbs." The crowd was laughing and playing along very well, while the three-piece taunted the crowd with a Red Sox hat, and vulgar stories about having to crump, which can be described as cumming and dumping at the same time. Fishman did play the drums for the sketch comedy duo while the crowd continually brought them shots to their toilet seats on stage where they were perched. After the barbarians left the stage, Fishman shook hands with the crowd and disappeared from the stage.
The opening quite is a line from the first song of the night "Tumbling Down," off of RAQ's newest album Ton These. Tickling those ivories, Todd Stoops started the show off with a high energy song followed by a super fast version of a classic, "Brother From Another Mother." Chris Michetti destroyed the Trey Anastasio style solo that bent his strings to their limits. "15 Shakes," "The Ventriliquist," and "Reason," kept the dance floor surprised and on their toes. After "Forget Me Not," special guest and former manager Dave Lew came out to give the crowd the official announcement of next RAQ festival called the Lew-au II. RAQ fans went wild as the band played an incredible "Late Night," into a powerful "Weakling." This was just one of the many high points of the show for me. The first set closed with "Quick and Painless," and the crowd erupted with sweat and tired feet.
They opened the second set with a not so surprising "Walking in Circles," but went into an extra rare "Technoavailable," which sent the Hyperfunkers, a term used to describe RAQ's dedicated, into a jaw dropping whirlwind. After they went back into "Walking in Circles," the rest of the crowd caught up with the magic that was swirling through the room. Then, they let the crowd think and talk about it a little while they played the mellow "Circumstance" off of Carbohydrates. "Bag It Out" got the crowd going again so much that an African-American fire eating Gene Simmons came onto the stage to do some tricks. While the flames were engulfing his mouth, Michetti signaled to the band to go into the Kiss classic "Shout It Out Loud." After finishing "Bag It Out" and "Back to the Head," a pair of panties sailed on stage as smooth talking bass player Jay Burwick teased the women with "Sweet Cream Butter." The girl who threw them was so moved by the lyrics that she climbed on stage to dance until she taken off a few minutes later.
When I asked my good friend and big RAQ fan Mike "Tiny" Wilson, who flew in from Colorado just for the show, what his favorite part of the night was he said, "The energy was high throughout the night, but the "Botz" (outro) > "Time Bomb" closer was the best." It was truly electric when the smiley Stoops rocked and gave the crowd one last reason to remember this night. The encore was a "Late Night" reprise, and the crowd seemed resistant to leave. It was one of those nights that you just don't want to end.
RAQ is growing in popularity by the day and for good reason. I'll be seeing them again tonight in Philadelphia, and I'm starting to sense another great jam band from Vermont to tour with could be in my cards for the future.