We rarely get to see true creativity on display in any given performance. Bands rehearse and tighten up and what’s left is sometimes a straight forward experience. And there is nothing wrong with that. That is just not the way Electric Beethoven or Shred Is Dead are choosing to create live music night after night. Both bands take their inspiration from highly regarded composers. One a 19th century deaf genius, the other the Grateful Dead.
Reed Mathis and company swooped through the Front Range for a series of shows to celebrate Denver’s happiest of days 4/20. Billed as the High Holidays Tour Electric Beethoven performed with DJ Logic & Friends in Nederland as well as up and comers Shred Is Dead in Denver. Shred Is Dead consists of Circles Around The Sun drummer Mark Levy, Digital Tape Machine guitarist Marcus Rezak , RaQ’s Todd Stoops on keys and Jay Burwick on bass. They sometimes tour with Jay Lane as well. This veritable super group of the modern music scene is more than equipped to take on the music of the Grateful Dead.
Their interpretations were loose jams deeply rooted in the tones and feelings of the Dead. Sometimes taking a more rock approach as in the opening “Scarlet Begonias” each song was an intricate tapestry of sound. The tunes were performed as instrumentals with Rezak lending his soaring guitar to fill in for Jerry’s long lost vocals. Their set was short, but incredibly memorable. “Dark Star” and a ridiculous “Crazy Fingers” were the highlights from a stellar show. If you like what Circles Around The Sun had done with Dead tunes you need to check out Shred Is Dead.
Electric Beethoven lead by Mr. Reed Mathis is perhaps one of the finest musical concepts touring today. Take the music of Beethoven and bring it into the new millennia with no preconceptions and no ego. Mix that up with a healthy does of collaboration and respect and what you have is Electric Beethoven. The lineup was almost the same as the last tour but this time drummer Jay Lane was replaced by JFJO’s Josh Raymer. The rest of the group consisted of Reed on bass, Todd Stoops on keys and Clay Welch on guitar. From start to finish their set was mesmerizing. Reed used the disco tune “A Fifth of Beethoven” as a jumping off point to a massive jam that went into outer space. For “Moonlight Sonata” Electric Beethoven invited up Shred Is Dead’s Mark Levy to jam with Raymer. “Ode To Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. One thing is clear, the setlist is fairly irrelevant as are my words describing the show. Electric Beethoven is something to be experienced live. The musicianship and Beethoven’s musical foundation create something utterly unique on today’s musical landscape. So just punch the ticket and take the ride. One thing is certain, those that made the trip to Hodi’s for Electric Beethoven left very happy.