New York-area Grateful Dead cover band High Time hit the stage at Brooklyn Bowl on Sunday night with help from special guest Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo. The show marked the first in a trio of Brooklyn Bowl appearances for the early-days Dead tribute this fall, with shows two and three of the residency set for Sunday, November 19th and Sunday, December 17th, respectively. With each show featuring heady Shakedown merch vendors and a live liquid light show by Macrodose, the residency promises to give NYC Deadheads a heavy dose of the scene on the third Sunday of each month. After this past Sunday’s opening night, however, offered up a hard-hitting setlist that will make it a tough act to follow.

The Brooklyn-based rock quintet opened with “Viola Lee Blues”, fitting in a cheeky double-time jam while allowing the band’s ensemble vocals to shine early in the set as the trippy visual stylings of the Macrodose Liquid Light Show accompanied funky instrumental breaks. The band tore through “Truckin’” next, charismatic rhythm guitarist Michael O’Neill delivering the lyrics with attitude. A crisp transition brought the into “Eyes of the World”, which featured an unexpected “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” jam. An uptempo “Brown Eyed Woman” followed, giving keyboardist Kevin Uelingher his first shot or the night at lead vocal duty. The crowd swelled forward to enjoy the singalong before the band dropped into a ripping “Cumberland Blues” that leaned heavily into the interplay between Uelingher and lead guitarist Pete Tonti.

New bassist James Preston took over lead vocal responsibilities for “Sugaree”. Delivering the crowd favorite with a smile, Preston’s smart phrasing and sharp ear helped his bandmates find and build grooves both here and throughout the night. It was drummer Adam Kriney’s time to shine on vocals next for an impressive “Playin’ In the Band”, highlighting some of the night’s best collective improvisation and ushering in the set break.

After the second set started with a blazing-fast “Morning Dew”, High Time made “New Minglewood Blues” its own with a key-shifted rendition that moved into deep cut “The Golden Road” and a dynamic “New Potato Caboose” featuring entrancing groove shifts from Kriney behind the kit. Guitars shimmered on the unique intro to “Scarlet Begonias” which featured Tonti’s best solo phrasing of the evening during the lead break and syncopated outro.

Next, the band invited Yo La Tengo frontman Ira Kaplan to the stage to add his guitar and vocals to “New Speedway Boogie”, but not before teasing “Dark Star” as the jam coalesced. The group soon wrestled this one into a raucous “The Other One”, highlighting Kaplan’s unique improvisation on guitar before looping back to the “Speedway” for an extra “one way or another” refrain. Finally, a rollicking “Turn On Your Love Light” ended the set, punctuated by Kaplan slapping his guitar to produce wild sounds and textures. The encore “Bertha” proved one of the best tunes of the night, with strong vocals reminiscent of the Grateful Dead in the early ‘70s.

Next up for High Time are gigs at Salty’s Beach Bar on Friday, November 17th and Hamden, CT’s Space Ballroom on Saturday, November 18th ahead of the band’s second Sunday at Brooklyn Bowl on November 19th. For a complete list of upcoming High Time tour dates, head here.

Below, check out the setlist and full, crowd shot videos of the Sunday, October 22nd High Time show at Brooklyn Bowl featuring Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan via YouTube user Love S. D’Word.

High Time – Brooklyn Bowl – Set One – 10/22/23

High Time – Brooklyn Bowl – Set Two – 10/22/23

Setlist: High Time | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 10/22/23

Set One: Viola Lee Blues, Truckin’ [1], Eyes Of the World, Brown Eyed Woman, Cumberland Blues, Sugaree, Playin’ In the Band

Set Two: Morning Dew, New New Minglewood Blues, The Golden Road [2], New Potato Caboose, Scarlet Begonias, New Speedway Boogie* [3][4], The Other One [3][5], Turn On Your Love Light [3]

Encore: Bertha
[1] with Nobody’s Fault But Mine jam
[2] with Golden jam
[3] featuring Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo
[4] with Dark Star intro jam
[5] with Yo La Tengo “Spec Bebop” jam, New Speedway Boogie “one way or another” reprise


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