The jam band project Blue Star Radiation, which consists of moe. members Rob Derhak on bass and Vinnie Amico on drums alongside Tim Palmieri (Lotus) on guitar and Nate Wilson (Percy Hill) on keyboards, concluded their spring tour this past weekend, with a spirited two-set show at Race Street Live in Holyoke, MA. The show capped off a run of performances through the Northeast that hit venues such as Park City Music Hall in Bridgeport, Nectar’s in Burlington, The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH; and others.
Following a rocking take on The Breakfast’s “Tricky Ways” at the top of the night, Palmieri announced to the Holyoke crowd that this was his first appearance at Race Street Live, the venue formerly known as Gateway City Arts. Re-opened only just last fall, Race Street has since seen a busy schedule of special performances from artists like Dawes, Deer Tick, Puss n Boots, Todd Snider, and more. It marked a return for Rob Derhak to Race Street Live, having performed there earlier this fall with moe. bandmate Al Schnier as part of an acoustic duo tour.
As for Blue Star Radiation, it’s clear these recent shows have served as a special chance for diehard moe. fans to catch Derhak and Amico perform in a fun and relaxed setting. Most nights on the tour saw the pair hanging out in the crowd long after shows end to mingle and chat with fans.
Tim Palmieri and Nate Wilson meanwhile are quite the dynamic duo and provide a comfortable, technically proficient compliment to the moe. rhythm section. Palmieri’s own flair for the dad-rock sound closely echoes that of moe.’s Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, yet his own nearly unpredictable chops on guitar bring a relentless energy to Blue Star.
Palmieri and Wilson provide the meat of the outfit’s best jamming moments, serving up back-to-back solos of their usual frenetic quality. At Race Street, the two shredded on songs like “Cosmic Debris” and moe. songs like “Happy Hour Hero” and “Biblical”. Wilson has also debuted original material with Blue Star Radiation, such as the sultry, Radiohead-style tune “White Lantern”, which was performed at Race Street as well.
Some moe. fans keen on the Blue Star Radiation tour have categorized the few versions of “Blue Jeans Pizza” as some of the best recent versions they’d heard. At Race Street, a memorable portion of the evening came when the band ended its first set with the moe. original. The band noticeably flubbed one of the song’s main riffs early on, and several fans in the crowd shouted “That’s okay!” with some laughter. Following the compositional section, the band dug into the song for a satisfyingly aggressive jam.
Alternatively, Blue Star Radiation overall has an undeniably airtight and polished presentation, and several other songs were played with flawless aplomb, composition, and jams. One of the most impressive at Race Street was a fun take on Kung Fu’s “The Hammer,” which closed out the night as the second encore. Coming right after a rendition of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Little Wing” that improvised into a jam on the Grateful Dead‘s “The Other One”, Blue Star Radiation certainly closed out its spring tour in solid fashion.
Coming ahead this year, Blue Star Radiation has two more performances so far scheduled, the first at Summer Camp Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend, and the second at Northlands Music and Arts Festival in late June.
Check out some photos from the band’s performance at Race Street Live on Saturday night below courtesy of photographer Miles Hurley.