music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Clutch @ The Masonic Auditorium – 12.31.18 – Cleveland, OH

January 14, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



There aren’t too many rock bands that stick around for 30 years. That’s especially true for rock bands that never had a real string of major radio hits. Straight forward rock and roll bands, for the most part, still need the radio play and mainstream push to really keep going. Clutch, however, continues to be a major exception to that rule. They’ve built a following of fans who love and appreciate what they do as a band without relying on any of the tools that may have cost them some of their own freedom. They’ve moved from hardcore to progressive rock to blues to southern rock, all while maintaining their own attitude and unique creativity. They are, in my opinion, the best rock and roll band touring today, and they showed why with their New Year’s Eve concert in Cleveland.

This is a band that’s familiar with the road and, on the heels of their recent album Book Of Bad Decisions, they’ve been touring pretty heavily. It wasn’t surprising that they decided to open the show with a pair of new tunes. “Weird Times” was a great, heavy opener that set the tone early. “How To Shake Hands” is one of the band’s most interesting and outside the box recent songs, and Neil played up the lyrics and played to the crowd extremely well during the song. The crowd was on fire from the very beginning, and the band knows how to play to that. They pulled out the ever popular “Mob Goes Wild” and moved that straight into another new tune “Ghoul Wrangler.” Despite the ways that the band has changed over the years they’re still able to fit songs that are 15 years old seamlessly with their new material.

They did another great segue by jamming out the end of “Crucial Velocity” straight into “Burning Beard.” With the weird time signature of “Burning Beard” this isn’t an easy thing to do, but the band is familiar with mixing up time signatures and putting together pieces that don’t necessarily seem to fit. They’ve been doing that for pretty much their entire career. The band then got ready to ring in the new year, starting out with a blistering “Noble Savage” before using “Yeti” for the countdown and moving right into a blistering “DC Sound Attack!” My only complaint would be the fact that anyone who caught the New Years show in Cleveland two years prior would have heard the same “Yeti”->”DC Sound Attack!” segue at that show. It’s a cool mix, but I don’t know why it seems to be their go-to NYE setup.

Minor complaint aside, the band kept going with a solid version of the new “In Walks Barbarella” before reaching back for “Soapmakers.” That one’s another odd song and it’s pretty great to see they’re still able to pull it out and pull it off so perfectly after all these years. After “Firebirds” Neil gave a heartfelt thank you to the crowd before closing out the main set with a bluesy “Electric Worry” that went straight into “Psychic Warfare.” The encore was probably the highlight of the night, with the band doing a full “Big News I&II” before closing things with “Cypress Grove.” Despite getting off stage at nearly 1 in the morning the crowd would have been ready to see these guys play until sunrise.

The three openers for the night were a bit of a mixed bag. Mike Dillon Band is an extremely talented trio and Dillon is a tremendous percussionist who can do pretty much whatever he wants. His songs, and particularly his vocals, come out as overly abrasive and are without a doubt an acquired taste. “Lionize” was solid, although they didn’t really have the crowd all that energized. The Messthetics were interesting and I enjoyed the ambiance that they created, but I don’t think the crowd was following what they were doing. These guys would probably fit better with a band like Explosions in the Sky.

Clutch is one of those bands that fans keep coming back to because you know you’re going to get an solid effort from every album and every show. They simply don’t ever let their fans down. This show was another example of that. It was a great way to ring in the new year, a great showing of some of their new material (even though they only played 4 songs from the new album), and just another excellent Clutch show. If you want a no-frills rock band that knows how to put on a show and isn’t afraid to branch out on their songs, Clutch is the band for you.



Bonnaroo announces lineup
Bonnaroo’s 2019 lineup has some surprises and includes plenty of bands for jam fans to get excited about. Phish will play three sets, a late night Friday set and a pair of sets on Sunday. The Lumineers will also get slot high on the bill. Other acts include a Grand Ole Opry session on Thursday, The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlisle, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The National, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Trampled by Turtles, and The Wood Brothers. Plenty of things on this lineup for jam band fans to love.

Sweetwater 420 adds artists
Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 festival added a handful of artists this week. Joining a lineup that already features Widespread Panic and The Avett Brothers, the festival added Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Everyone Orchestra, Big Something, and Fruition. Solid lineup for the show.

Michael Lang confirms Woodstock 50th Anniversary festival
Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang will be organizing a 50th anniversary show at Watkins Glen on August 16-18. This event is seperate from the event happening at the original Woodstock grounds. This festival will feature 40 artists that will be “multi-generational.” Lang spoke about returning the event to it’s social action roots and having it look more like Woodstock 25 than the Woodstock 30 debacle.

Phish announce summer tour
Phish will be on the road this summer from June through September. The band will primarily be in the northeast with a few stops in the midwest and a closing run at Dick’s in Colorado. The ticket request lottery is live and will be active through June 21.

June 11 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
June 12 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
June 14 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN
June 16 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN
June 18 Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON
June 19 Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
June 21 PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC
June 22 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
June 23 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
June 25 Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME
June 26 Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME
June 28 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ
June 29 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ
June 30 BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ
July 2 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
July 3 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
July 5 Fenway Park, Boston, MA
July 6 Fenway Park, Boston, MA
July 9 Mohegan Sun Arena , Uncasville, CT
July 10 Mohegan Sun Arena , Uncasville, CT
July 12 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI
July 13 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI
July 14 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI
August 30 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
August 31 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
September 1 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO


Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI

June 13-16
Manchester, TN
Phish, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, GRiZ, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Jim James, Trampled By Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, The Record Company

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!