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It was the most fuzz. AndRoadburnwasn’t exactly light in that regard circa 2011. The renowned Dutch festival that year featured the likes ofZoroaster,Quest for Fire,Naam,Acid KingandThe Atomic Bitchwax… on the first day. L.A. by way of D.C. three-piece Dead Meadowplayed the last day, what was then called the Afterburner, and their slot could not have been more appropriate. Sandwiched between Coffinsand evening headliners Black Mountainon the Main Stage, they offered a mellow-heavy hour that was utterly consuming. People in the back sat down. Not out of fatigue, though it has been a long weekend by then, but just to let the warmth of Jason Simon‘s buzzing guitar wash over them. Joined by Steve Killeon bass and Mark Laughlinon drums, Simon‘s urfuzz and unfailingly drifting vocals filled that space with a laid back vibe and groove that that Burning World Records‘ Live at Roadburn 2011 presents in all its Sasquatch-inclusive righteousness.
Of course, Dead Meadowby then were on their way to being veterans already. More than a decade into their career, they’d released Three Kings in 2010 as a semi-live album/video, and that followed their fifth album, 2007’s Old Growth. Their Peel Sessionscollection would show up in 2012, but as regards live records, they’d also done Got Live if You Want It!in 2002 following their 2000 self-titled debut and 2001’s Howls From the Hills. Strangers neither to performance nor captured-performance, then, and Live at Roadburn 2011brings that spirit to bear. Though the Alexis Zirittcover art offers a glorious mania of colors and lines, planets, stars, an undead wizard and hooded mandrill acolytes, the 53-minute set itself is more about what Dead Meadow do within that abiding sense of mood, seeming to go deeper and deeper into nod until finally, with “Sleepy Silver Door,” it engulfs everything.
That set-closer was also the opener of the self-titled, and if Dead Meadowhave a signature riff, that might be it (they’d revisit it in 2005 as part of a 13-minute jam), but onLive at Roadburn 2011it’s also part of the larger story of side B and of course the LP as a whole. After launching with “Good Moanin'” and “Let’s Jump In” from 2003’s Shivering King and Othersand 2005’s Feathers, respectively, their course is set between dense Orange-toned riffing and open-stretch psychedelia, and even as “What Needs Must Be” from Old Growthpulls back from the farther reaches of ‘far out’ to bring a bit of boogie to the proceedings, the ethereal sensibility remains in the solo even though the overarching rhythm is tight in its stops and starts, a kind of rolling swing that reminds that Washington D.C. was once the funk capitol of the US as well as the seat of government.