Psychedelic cowboys the Meat Puppets headlined Urban Lounge Saturday night, and they packed some epic guitar jams for the trip.
The brothers Kirkwood (guitarist Curt and bassist Cris), along with drummer Shandon Sahm, have always had a soft spot for extending their tunes into new and progressively more-twisted directions, but rarely have they used virtually every song of a set to work out their instrumental chops to quite the degree they did Saturday.
Nearly every tune in the 15-song set found itself morphing into a lengthy jam led by Curt Kirkwood, who manipulated his six strings in every way imaginable while goading his bandmates to follow along. For some in the crowd, the guitar workouts were ideal fodder for dancing the night away; for others, they were a bit off-putting, taking up time that could have been used for a few more songs.
I fall somewhere in the middle. While I certainly would have liked a few more songs in the nearly 90-minute set, watching the Kirkwoods play together as they improvise is a fascinating study in stage presence, as well as a lesson in sound manipulation.
The songs that did make it into the set included a slew of Meat Puppets favorites reaching back 30 years, including excellent takes on "Plateau," "Up on the Sun" and the monster-sized show-closer "Lake of Fire." "Touchdown King," "Maiden's Milk" and "Comin' Down" were all highlights of the first half of the show, while the latter half included the speed-rapped "Sam," the fuzz-guitar fury of "Attacked by Monsters," "Lost" and "Confusion Fog."
The biggest disappointment of the show was one that applies to a lot of bands with a huge back catalog to deal with while building a set--there simply wasn't enough attention paid to the band's new Lollipop album compared to the older songs. If memory serves (and if my notebook's correct), "Lantern" was the only new tune in the night's 15 songs. Granted, people complain when they get too much of a band's new material, but a little more of the new Meat Puppets would have lifted Saturday's shows to greater heights.
As it was, the Meat Puppets still managed to get pretty high on Saturday.