Brooklyn’s premier Grateful Dead cover band High Time returned on Sunday night to continue its three-show fall residency at Brooklyn Bowl. Featuring merch vendors alongside the many familiar, friendly faces in the crowd, the concert was accompanied once again by the live psychedelic visuals of the Macrodose Liquid Light Show. High Time put on another exciting show at the beloved venue, showcasing its growing comfort with exploring and harnessing the most primal elements of the Grateful Dead’s early years.
The band kicked off the show with “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” featuring lead guitarist Pete Tonti on vocals. While the outro gave the band an opportunity to fine-tune the sound mix, drummer Adam Kriney conjured up a shuffle that developed into “Playing In the Band”. The jam quickly grew spacey and strange, with Tonti making tasteful use of his wah pedal while keyboardist Kevin Uehlinger created dissonant textures underneath.
Tonti again took on vocal duties for “Tennessee Jed” before passing the reins to rhythm guitarist Michael O’Neill for “Scarlet Begonias”. An especially energetic outro broke into a surprising “Unbroken Chain” jam before returning to the characteristic ending riff of “Begonias”. Bassist James Preston then stepped up to deliver a tender take on “Row Jimmy”, punctuated by Tonti’s slide guitar playing.
The first set came to a thunderous peak with a spirited performance of “Alligator”, with Uehlinger jumping up to grab the microphone and prowl the stage while delivering the lyrics. “It’s been great to connect my past as a fan with my present as a performer,” Uehlinger said ahead of the show, and this spirit showed in force. As the music coalesced into the band’s most primal jam of the residency so far, an enormous alligator puppet paraded through the crowd to screams of amusement while the Deadheads ate up the stage theatrics. An immediate pivot into a ripping “Me and My Uncle” brought more familiar structure back to the music as the first set ended.
The band began the second set by tearing through “St. Stephen”, with Kriney orchestrating crisp time signature changes as Preston buoyed the melodic interplay between Tonti and O’Neill. This transitioned smoothly into “The Eleven” which proved to be the standout performance of the show: Tonti showed off his most inspired and technical playing yet, with Uehlinger’s piano fills shining through between furious flurries of guitar notes.
A seamless transition brought the group into a rollicking rendition of “Sitting On Top Of The World” which ended almost as quickly as it began by morphing into an extended intro to “Dark Star”. O’Neill’s playing stole the spotlight here, with tremolos mixed with leads working to direct the jam’s sonic texture.
A particularly weird jam soon evolved into an uptempo “Bird Song”, featuring fluttery piano trills from Uehlinger and a driving, double-timed chorus that lifted an otherwise somber, reflective tune into much more joyful territory. High Time then brought the funk with the fast 1973 version of “They Love Each Other”, which included a fitting interpolation of the early Jerry Garcia/Merl Saunders gem “Finders Keepers”. Finally, some muscular bass playing by Preston helped to prop up the classic pairing of “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider” which brought the second set to a crashing conclusion.
The show finally came to an end with a peppy “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” followed by a heavily a capella “We Bid You Goodnight” that was an unexpected highlight of another (not so unexpected) strong showing from the band.
High Time – Brooklyn Bowl – New York, NY – 11/19/23 – Set Two
[Video: Love S. DWord]
High Time – “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”, “And We Bid You Goodnight” – 11/19/23
[Video: Love S. DWord]
High Time performs next on December 16th at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA before closing out its residency at Brooklyn Bowl with a final Sunday show on Dec 17th. For a complete list of upcoming High Time tour dates, head here. Check out some photos from the latest Brooklyn Bowl show courtesy of photographer Taylor Weinberg.
Setlist: High Time | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 11/19/23
Set One: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Playing In the Band, Tennessee Jed, Scarlet Begonias , Row Jimmy, Alligator, Me and My Uncle
Set Two: St. Stephen, The Eleven, Sitting On Top Of The World, Dark Star, Bird Song, They Love Each Other , China Cat Sunflower, I Know You Rider
Encore: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, We Bid You Goodnight
 w/ “Unbroken Chain” jam
 1973 version w/ “Finders Keepers” jam