Posts Tagged ‘ Alex Bleeker and the Freaks ’

Alex Bleeker & the Freaks “Play Dead”: December 30, 2015 Rough Trade NYC

January 6, 2016


If you were a fan of the Grateful Dead, and you saw the actual band live, then you’ve probably got more than your share of opinions about the various combinations of the remaining parts of it who’ve tried to transact on the original’s greatness. As someone who never saw the actual band (but has seen some successful and less-than-successful related projects), I’m not here to convince you. But for my money, there’s something rewarding, something essential, about watching much-younger musicians, with full careers filled with their own original material in front of them, paying tribute to one of rock music’s foundational bands.

I  loved the Brooklyn Bowl show that we posted by Alex Bleeker and The Freaks — that one a combo run through their new album and some other originals, followed by a “Play Dead” set that’s become a staple of many of their live shows. This one flipped that script, with Bleeker and pals offering up a 100-minute set consisting almost entirely of Dead covers. This — my final show of the year — was billed as the afterparty to Phish’s 12/30 Madison Square Garden show, and the celebratory air from that event (an especially strong performance from this year’s MSG run) carried over into the more intimate confines of Rough Trade NYC.

Overall, this “Play Dead” was a looser, better and arguably truer performance to the spirit of the original band. While the Brooklyn Bowl set consisted mainly of discrete run-throughs of each song, you’ll notice that this set was filled with segues, kicking off with “China Cat Sunflower” into a surging “I Know You Rider” before venturing into  cosmic territory with “Eyes to the World” into “He’s Gone” into “The Other One,” taking a short detour through “Dark Star” and ending up, improbably, with a Bleeker original, “Sealong Hair,” from their latest record, Country Agenda. After that came three more non-Dead tunes (two more originals, plus their regular-rotation cover of Mountain Man’s “Animal Tracks,” a fierce jam in its own right. Where Bleeker was joined last time by Real Estate’s Martin Courtney, here we had another cameo by one of his Ridgewood, NJ pals, Julian Lynch and multi-talented Dave Harrington (of many bands, but perhaps best-known for his work in Darkside). The band managed to deliver a little birthday salutation to Harringon in between “Tennessee Jed” and “St. Stephen,” which closed the set. By that point it was 2 a.m. and the club’s neighbors weren’t going to tolerate any more. For those of us inside, though, this was an afterparty that we’d have been happy to continue all night.

I recorded this set with a soundboard feed from Rough Trade engineer Leah, together with Schoeps MK4V microphones. The sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!

Download the complete set: [FLAC] | [MP3]

Stream the complete set: 

Alex Bleeker & The Freaks “Play Dead”
Rough Trade NYC
Brooklyn, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Soundboard [engineer: Leah] + Schoeps MK4V (PAS)>KC5>CMC6>>Zoom F8>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades)>Izotope Ozone 5 (effects)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time: 1:43:00]
All songs by the Grateful Dead unless noted

01 tuning>China Cat Sunflower>
02 I Know You Rider
03 Eyes of the World>
04 He’s Gone>
05 The Other One>
06 Dark Star Jam>
07 Sealong Hair [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
08 Downright Stinson [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
09 Animal Tracks [Mountain Man]
10 U.H.M. [Alex Bleeker & the Freaks]
11 Shakedown Street>
12 The Wheel>
13 Tennessee Jed>
14 [Happy bday to Dave]>
15 St. Stephen
16 [outro]

If you download this recording from NYCTaper, PLEASE SUPPORT Alex Bleeker & the Freaks, visit their Facebook page, and purchase their new album Country Agenda from Sinderlyn Records [HERE].

Alex Bleeker and The Freaks: November 12, 2015 Brooklyn Bowl (2 Sources)

November 17, 2015

[photo courtesy of Jackson Richards]

Alex Bleeker and The Freaks treated us to two concerts on Thursday night at Brooklyn Bowl. As the release party for the new album Country Agenda, the first set was an extremely well-played run through much of the record with some older Freaks tunes, and one outstanding cover. The second set was the Freaks “Play Dead” — a guest-filled performance of Grateful Dead tunes, similar to what the band did in Chicago in July.

Country Agenda struck me most upon first listen as an album with superb production values. The sound quality is absurdly good, but what’s more compelling is that the songs have a feel that is consistent with the music. While others have pointed to the American Beauty / Workingman’s Dead qualities of the songs, this album very much more resembles a Laurel Canyon record and the offshoots of that movement. For the live performance, what substituted for the production values of the record was the tightness of the band. The Freaks were extremely well rehearsed and wired into each other — this is a band of both talent and commitment and the performance proved that. But this was also a night when the Freaks had some fun and let loose. The jamming aspect of this show began with the final number of the first set, an extended cover of Ricky Skaggs’ “Gone Home,” and continued throughout the second set of Grateful Dead music. Among the Dead songs, the one that jumped out most was the Martin Courtney (Bleeker’s bandmate in his other project, Real Estate) appearance for “Here Comes Sunshine”, which featured Courtney’s unique vocals and a tight three-guitar attack (thanks to the addition of Courtney) that nailed what is otherwise a difficult song to pull off. By “difficult,” I mean that the Grateful Dead themselves stopped playing it for a couple of decades because of timing difficulties. The night ended in very sweet fashion, as the uber-talent Steve Gunn led the band through a profound version of “Wharf Rat.” In total, Alex Bleeker and The Freaks provided us with two sets and well over two hours of music featuring both the band’s superb new album and a fun set of Dead covers. It was a tremendous night and fortunately it will be repeated soon. The band will once again “Play Dead” on December 30 at Rough Trade.

Acidjack and I both recorded this set with separate rigs. We shared a superb board feed provided by Brooklyn Bowl’s FOH (we need help with his name to give full credit) and we both ran Schoeps from the middle of the room. I used the Schoeps CCM4 cardioids and acidjack ran his MK41V supercardiods. The sound in the room was also quite excellent (including very little crowd chatter). The nyctaper mix favors the audience feed (about 65/35 in favor of the room), while the acidjack mix accentuates the well-mixed board feed. The sound quality of both mixes is superb but offer different approaches to this show. Enjoy!

Download the Complete Show:
nyctaper source [MP3] / [FLAC]
acidjack source [MP3] / [FLAC]

Stream the Complete Show (nyctaper source):

Stream the Complete Show (acidjack source):

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Alex Bleeker and The Freaks
Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY USA

Digital Master Recording
Soundboard + Audience Matrix

Soundboard + Schoeps CCM4u Cardioids > Sound Devices 744t > 2 x 24bit 48kHz wavs > Soundforge (post-production) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > TLH > flac (320 MP3 and tagging via Foobar)

Recorded and Produced by nyctaper

Set 1
[Total Time 1:03:37]
01 Little Dream I Had
02 California
03 See You On Sunday
04 [false start]
05 Country Agenda
06 Portrait
07 The Rest
08 Sealong Hair
09 Honey I Don’t Know
10 Downright Stinson
11 Leave On the Light
12 U.H.M.
13 [banter – new record]
14 Gone Home [Ricky Skaggs]

Set 2
[Total Time 1:14:41]
15 Viola Lee Blues
16 Tennessee Jed
17 Jack Straw
18 [Martin Courtney intro]
19 Here Comes Sunshine
20 He’s Gone
21 The Other One
22 He’s Gone Reprise
23 [Steve Gunn intro]
24 Wharf Rat


Alex Bleeker & The Freaks
Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Soundboard + Schoeps MK41V (A-B)>KCY>Z-PFA>>Edirol R-44>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades)>Izotope Ozone 5 (effects)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Set 1 [Total Time: 1:03:42]
01 Little Dream I Had
02 California
03 See You On Sunday
04 [banter1]
05 Country Agenda
06 Portrait
07 The Rest
08 Sealong Hair
09 Honey, I Don’t Know
10 Downright Stinson
11 Leave On the Light
12 U.H.M.
13 [banter2]
14 Gone Home [Ricky Skaggs]

Set 2 – Grateful Dead cover set [Total Time: 1:14:44]
01 Viola Lee Blues
02 Tennessee Jed
03 Jack Straw
04 [banter3]
05 Here Comes Sunshine %
06 He’s Gone> %
07 The Other One>He’s Gone %
08 [banter4]
09 Wharf Rat $
% w/ Martin Courtney
$ w/ Steve Gunn

If you Download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, visit their Facebook page, and purchase their new album Country Agenda from Sinderlyn Records [HERE].

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