Railroad Earth: Saturday 1/18/20 Live at The Fillmore in San Francisco
Photos provided by concert photographer Kory Thibeault. Check out more of his work at @korythibeaultphoto
Recap provided by nugs.net staff member and Railroad Earth fan Arya Jha
Railroad Earth’s Saturday night performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco was a non-stop dance party. Perhaps it was due to a well-received performance the night before, but by the time the band hit the stage they were well past warmed up and ready to rock. Railroad’s first song of the night “Lordy, Lordy” quickly transitioned from high tempo drumming and long bass riffs into a multi-layered psychedelic jam, setting the tone for a night full of solos and melodies held together by a seemingly infinite rhythm.
Set one continued on, taking a journey through ebbs and flows of uplifting harmonies. The crowd started to settle in and just as the effects of a beautiful light show against the band’s custom made backdrop quieted and entranced the audience, the band busted into spacey but tight banjo-led twang, bringing the room into a knee-slapping roar. ‘Old Man and the Land’ segued nicely into ‘Black Bear’ and bassist Andrew Altman segued nicely into upright bass, maintaining the foundation and tempo of the set regardless. Fiddler Tim Carbone led the band into an upbeat ‘Cuckoo’s Medley’ to end the set as Bill Graham’s chandeliers lit up the ceiling of the venue in a wave of colors.
Railroad Earth’s more recent shows have defied the classical bluegrass and even jam-grass genres through their use of the funk forward B3 Organ, an instrument rarely used by projects whose core is also determined by fiddle and mandolin. It was a true pleasure to see Matt Slocum on keys, and even better to hear how well his Leslie Whirl paired with Mike Robinson’s steel pedal shredding. While set one provided a great deal of harmonic energy, set two opened up room for alternative leads, from Todd Sheaffer’s acoustic guitar to Carey Harmon’s drums, and everything between. Always a crowd-pleaser “Elko” jammed on as fans tossed cards high into the sky in tribute to the lyrics, a true testament to the fanatic Northern California community the band has bred through their annual headlining sets at NorCal’s Hangtown Music Festival. “Captain Nowhere” segued into “1759” segued into “Fisherman’s Blues” played more like ballads but kept the crowd moving. Finally, in an emotional tribute to the historic venue and Jerry Garcia’s San Francisco roots came the short but sweet encore “Old and In The Way”. This show will easily be a fan favorite to regular Railroad Earth listeners, but also a wonderful start to their catalog if you are not yet versed. Railroad Earth’s live show recordings live on nugs.net and you can listen to the two night Fillmore run today.