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Live Review: H.O.R.D.E. Festival 1996
by Laurie Stewart
Rock Love Magazine, National
Jul 31st, 1996

The Grateful Dead may be no more, but some of the summer's most interesting festivals evoke the spirit that seemingly left with Jerry last summer. The Furthur Festival included former members of the Grateful Dead performing with their current projects, mingling with each other and playing a few Dead tunes. Perry Farrell's new Enit Festival promises to be a rock n' roll rave and then there is H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere), the five-year-old festival founded by Blues Traveler frontman John Popper. Last year, the festival gave us Ziggy Marley and Black Crowes to go along with Blues Traveler, while this year, the Dead-like lineup included Lenny Kravitz, Rusted Root and the mega-popular Dave Matthews Band to go along with Blues Traveler, who this year decided that they were now big enough to headline the event. The second stage saw the likes of Super 8, Medeski, Martin & Wood and the wonderful Ricki Lee Jones. Rusted Root got the festivities going with their world beats, and Lenny Kravitz almost bought the farm when the microphone gave him a massive shock 15 seconds into his first song. Dave Matthews' set was not "Too Much" and then there came the headliners.

Sticking mostly to the set from their new, double live CD, Live From The Fall, Blues Traveler did not disappoint. Their live album was a natural next step for these performers who consider themselves a live band at heart.

One of the aspects I find enjoyable about their live set as compared to other live albums, is that the audience cheering is not so loud and prevalent as to distract from the songs. And it seemed that way also at the festival - the audience let the band play.

Live From The Fall seems not to be so much about the fact that there was an audience there, as about how Blues Traveler breaks away from the norm on stage, clearly visible at H.O.R.D.E. The stage is their home and it energizes them, as they revel in the fun of the live experience.

There are times live, when the songs go on and on and times when the offering is predominantly instrumental, featuring the recognizable sound of John Popper's harmonica.

On the 2-CD Live From The Fall, the 18-song, two and a half hours of music include album staples such as "Run-Around," "Hook" and "But Anyway," while also giving the fan a personal copy of marvelous covers of "Low Rider" and "Imagine", current favorites on the H.O.R.D.E. circuit.

Probably the best thing that can be said about any band's live record is that Live From The Fall made me want to run out and buy tickets to see the band live and since the H.O.R.D.E. performance was basically Live From The Fall, the thrill of it all can be enjoyed long after the festival and the bands have packed up and moved on.