LIVE: Raisinhead w/Family Tree @ The Hangar on the Hudson, 03/18/2022

With the first warm day of 2022 coming to an end and the temperature still at an unseasonable 70 degrees, I pulled into the parking lot of the Hangar on the Hudson as the Sun was starting its descent over the Hudson River.

The Hangar on the Hudson is right across the street from The Ale House, which is a long-standing institution in Troy. As a former resident of Troy, I knew The Ale House well but had never been to The Hangar.

Family Tree
Photo by Amy Klemme

I met up with Amy from Nippertown and we sauntered over to the Ale House for a bite and a pint. The Ale House was hopping and we were guided to the last available table. As we were talking and taking sips of Guinness, I asked Amy what time we should walk over to make sure we caught the opening act, Family Tree. She let me know that as long as those people at that table in the corner are still here, we’re good, as every member of the opening band, Family Tree, was at that table.

After a few pints and an amazing open-faced Roast Beef sandwich, we headed over to the venue.

Upon walking in the front door of Hangar on the Hudson, I realized that I knew the doorman, Dan. Sure, it had been close to two decades since we’d seen each other, but it immediately made me feel comfortable and gave me an instant kinship to the place. 

The Hangar on the Hudson is a unique venue. After walking down a narrow hall, with the door at the end marked “Performers Only,” I took the sharp right leading to the stage and floor. I noticed the lighting. I’ve always thought that proper lights can set the stage for a proper party and the folks at The Hangar apparently share my view. The light was low enough to showcase the stage lighting without making the rest of the place a dark cavern.

We ordered a couple of pints and the bartender was not only friendly but dancing and grooving while she poured the beers, as she ended up doing the entire night. 

As we were deciding where to post-up for the show, I noticed the rows of old movie theater seats and a few high-top tables. While I think the movie theater seats are an absolutely brilliant idea for The Hangar, we opted for one of the available high-tops.

In true Rock-n-Roll fashion, the advertised start time of 8 pm came and went with no sign of anyone taking the stage. The house system was pumping out jams as small groups of people congregated around the room. The place was nearly empty and I was a little concerned that the show would be a subdued affair. 

But my concern was for naught.

At around 8:40, Family Tree emerged from the dressing room, stopped by the bar for a quick drink and then hopped up on the stage as the energy in the room shifted to an air of contained excitement.  Lori Friday said ‘Hello’ to a few folks in the crowd while getting her Bass set for the show and she did it with what seemed like genuine gratitude and kindness. 

The band launched into a ferocious, nearly 90-minute long set that had everything from slick grooves and great vocal harmonies to pure, uncut Rock and Roll. From Blind Faith to Led Zeppelin and even some Al Green, their set not only kept the crowd moving, but the crowd size had more than doubled before they even finished their first song.

The sound engineer and the lighting tech both deserve praise. The sound quality was superb, with a clear distinction between each instrument, crisp and clear vocals, and an overall sound that was more reminiscent of a fancy Music Hall than a Rock venue. The lights were equally on point, with spotlights, strobes, and color washes all in perfect sync with the music. 

Lori Friday is one of those Bass players who doesn’t seem to even be holding the guitar. Rather, it seems as though it is simply a part of her. The way she can switch up her playing style to match the groove is astounding. She was effortlessly going between a thumb-picking style, to double-finger to using a pick.

Family Tree Photo by Amy Klemme

Complementing Lori’s grooves were tight, intricate beats by drummer Chad Ploss and powerful lead vocals combined with blistering guitar solos by Kenny Hohman that, much like Lori’s Bass playing, seemed to be more instinct than anything. 

The highlight of the Family Tree set was when guitarist Rob Fleming set his guitar down and stepped in front of the microphone. With just a few haunting notes from Chris Carey on keyboards, it became clear to the crowd that they were playing the Led Zeppelin juggernaut, No Quarter. Every member of the band let their hearts pour out for that song, but it was really Fleming’s vocals that brought the house down.

Other highlights of the Family Tree set included the rocking version of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” again with Fleming on vocals, and Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” with Chris Carey nailing the far-out keyboards throughout.

Raisinhead took the stage at 10:30. By that time, the crowd had swelled and it was clear that those who attended were there to party. The first thing I noticed before a single note was played, was that drummer Chad Ploss was doing double-duty, playing in both bands. Playing high-energy drums for three hours straight is no small feat, but he seemed to enjoy every moment.

Raisinhead
Photo by Amy Klemme

Their first song, “Driving West,” blasted off from the start, with a relentlessly funky groove from Bassist Tom Pirozzi and driving beat at the hands of Chad Ploss. 

A second percussionist, Dave Majzeka, brought more energy with world-class hand-drumming, as did the sounds of both Rob Beaulieu and Ted Grey’s guitars. They were one unit, but each with distinct personalities that could not have complemented each other better.

All of this laid down the groundwork for Brian Mangini to just quietly sit back and absolutely shred the keyboards with a smooth funkiness that can be matched by very few.

They continued through their set with “Ruba Ruba,” “Riverwood” and “Moonshine” 

By the time they got to the song “California,” which is off their 2020 Album “Pocket Change,” the crowd was fully engaged and had heated the inside up to the point where the door had to be propped open. 

Raisinhead
Photo by Amy Klemme

The place was rocking.

Rasinhead then announced that they had “one more” and played an amazing rendition of “Good to be Alive” before announcing they would be bringing some members of Family Tree up for a jam.

Lori and Kenny came up, along with Chris Carey. Chris sat not at the keyboard but at the drumset, which threw Rob for a momentary loop.

“That’s right, you’re one of those guys,” he said jokingly to Chris.

The combined bands launched into the instantly recognizable song from The Band, “Cripple Creek” and many people briefly stopped dancing and took out their phones to capture this magical moment.

On the next song, “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” Chris grabbed the Harmonica and Steve Candlen appeared from thin air to jump on the drums. Then Tom Pirozzi jumped back up and joined Lori for a “Bass-Off.” Tom and Lori traded Bass licks back and forth, as they brought the crowd to a fever pitch.

Photo by Amy Klemme

The icing on this musical cake was when they brought up Dave Spadaro on guitar and closed the show with a song off their first album called “Never Die.” 

With this being the 20th Anniversary of Raisinhead and them still going very strong, I think “Never Die” was the appropriate way to end the night. 

Photo Gallery by Amy Klemme

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