Lettuce is a changed band. While they’ve always been an incredibly funky and tight musical powerhouse, the fact remains that they have developed a new, more psychedelic style as of late. Given their road warrior status over the past two years, it makes sense that the band would push things in new directions. However, I’m not sure anyone was prepared for the full-band attack that went down at Brooklyn Bowl over the past two nights. Lettuce was off the charts during their two-night stand at The Bowl, delivering amazing songs, ambitious improvisation, and an infectious energy that was simply undeniable.
It’s important to note that this is a band that truly feeds off each other. Jesus Coomes holds it down tremendously on the bass, connecting with each member of the band as he provides the ultimate rhythm. His solid playing allows for drummer Adam Deitch to stretch things out, weaving between different styles and pushing the band into new directions at every turn. A great example of this was on “Phyllis”, which got the treatment on night two, moving from funk to drum ‘n’ bass to go-go and then back again as perhaps the standout improvisational tune of the run.
With Eric Krasno and Neal Evans nowhere in sight, Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff and Nigel Hall were let loose on the crowd, and they seriously brought it. Shmeeans is one of the best (if not THE best) rhythm guitar players in the business, but his emergence as a lead man in Lettuce is truly impressive. His solos were sublime, and his jamming skills are top notch. Hall, a former guest vocalist of the band who was relegated to a few songs per evening, has been showcasing keyboard skills that not many knew he had. His creative and on-point playing has breathed new life into Lettuce. Of course, he still showcased his awesome vocals, with excellent covers of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears and “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright, as well as high-energy takes on “Sounds Like A Party” and “Do It Like You Do”.
At this point, there’s no hiding that The Shady Horns are Lettuce’s secret weapon, their ace in the hole that completes the band’s sound. Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom are certainly an odd couple, with Bloom a ball of explosive energy while Zoidis is probably the coolest customer in the band. When paired together, these two are the perfect yin and yang, and songs like “Squadlive” and “Lettsanity” wouldn’t be the same without this dynamic duo. Each night, Hall made sure to shout out Zoidis and Bloom and give them a small feature, and it proved to be some of the most exciting moments of the run. Their creative approach and locked-in attitudes are unrivaled, especially Zoidis’ work with his effects pedals during the band’s several moments of improv. When Maurice “Mobetta” Brown hopped on stage towards the end of night two, he and Bloom had a field day chasing each other’s tails, pushing each other to new heights with each note played.
Check out full audio from night two, courtesy of taper Matt Moricle.
See below for setlists from both nights nights of Lettuce at Brooklyn Bowl, as well as a gallery courtesy of photographer Andrew Scott Blackstein.
Lettuce | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 1/3/2017
Set One: Blast Off, The Dump, Yakatori, Purple Cabbage, Go-Go (with Juicy tease), Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Slippin, Squadlive, Madison Square, Express Yourself, Remember The Children, The Force
Encore: Sounds Like A Party
Lettuce | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 1/4/2017
Set One: Mt. Crushmore (w/ Evil Wu tease), Salute, Fly, Suppit, Phyllis, Back In Effect, Does Your Mama Know, Ready To Live, Blaze, Lettsanity, Trillogy, Chief, By Any Shmeeans Necessary
Encore: Do It Like You Do