Sunday, September 28, 2003

Ekoostik Hookah jams for Cash, Palmer tributes

Concert review

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

Columbus' Ekoostik Hookah ranks among the leading practitioners of post-Grateful Dead jam. But the band's Saturday-night show at Bogart's was strengthened by the influence of the recently departed as much as the Dead themselves.

A pair of covers highlighted the second set of the group's two-and-a-half hour performance.

Fitted into a set of some of the band's lengthier jams was a concise, true-to-the-original take on Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues,: a tribute to the Man in Black that the kids in patchouli populating the crowd picked up on immediately. Earlier, in the first set, the band did Cash's "Get Rhythm" in a version owning to NRBQ's. Cash died Sept. 12.

The song that followed "Folsom Prison" earned an even louder response from the audience. Cash has received all the glory lately, so it was nice to hear Hookah also acknowledge singer Robert Palmer, who died Friday, with a more-or-less faithful rendition of "Addicted to Love" in which the hippie onlookers found boogie-dance inspiration.

Later in the set, during a medley of "Indica and Sativa" and "Spiders," singer Ed McGee revisited "Addicted to Love," singing some lines from the song, as well as a few from another Palmer hit, "Bad Case of Loving You."

The death tributes stopped there. But when the band busted out Cheap Trick's "Surrender" for the encore, there was no way of knowing. Could it have been that the world had lost a Rick Neilsen or a Bun E. Carlos, and the six guys in Hookah were the only ones to know about it? The answer is apparently "no." Thankfully, there's no evidence to prove that any of the fine men of Cheap Trick are no longer with us. Shame on Ekoostik Hookah for frightening us, even though the song rocked.

The rest of the show was fairly routine as far as a Hookah performance goes: songs about rolling along the nation's interstate system as a metaphor for life; songs about playing music as a metaphor for life; and, of course, songs about catching a headbuzz. Jams came in two sizes lengthy and lengthier, and the instrumental kickoff to Set Two, "Slipjig through the Poppy Fields," was the headiest jam of the night.

The only thing unexpected was the turnout. In the past the band would routinely sell out Bogart's and could do two-night stands, but on this night the club was only about half full.

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