Lettuce gets down and dirty at Crystal Bay Casino

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Mt. Crushmore in the Sierra Nevada: Funky, fresh Lettuce satisfies the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room during the first of its two shows at Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Lettuce straight funked things up for the first night of its two-night stand at the Crystal Bay Casino on Wednesday, March 15.

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Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff

Lettuce has rolled through Tahoe with its cosmic party funk the last two years running and has blown the roof off North Shore’s Crystal Bay Club with bomb after bomb of epic jams. This next-level assault by Adam Deitch (drums), Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (guitar), Neal Evans (keyboards), Erick “Jesus” Coomes (bass) Ryan Zoidis (saxophone) Nigel Hall (keyboards) and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) has laid nuclear waste to preconceptions of what music can be and have evolved hip-hop, funk, rock and soul from those enriched ashes into a psychedelic sonic mutant that is as ferocious as it is masterful. The band is touring behind its latest gem “Mt. Crushmore” and Wednesday night it went hard to the paint in bringing the psyched crowd a healthy dose of new and old songs to pop off on.

The first set opened with the classic “Reunion” and warmed the night’s engines up with some smooth grooves. The band then cranked up the RPMs with a three-song run of “Bowler,” “116th St.” and “Yakatori” with some major heat coming from Zoidis and Bloom as they peppered the music with dizzying lines and solos, The Shady Horns flexing its status as one of the tightest horn sections in the game. Deitch kept the foot on the gas pedal for the raging bounce of “Let It Go Go” and the band closed out the first set on a high note with the supercharged funk of new song “Morning Mr. Shmink.”

Somehow Lettuce came out with even more energy in the second set and the final half of the show really saw the band roll up its sleeves and get down and dirty. “Get Greasy” fit like a silk glove tucked away in a soul pocket, it was just that smooth. A highlight of the second set was a monstrous “By Any Shmeans Necessary” that built upon a spidery bassline from Coomes and then got pulled into a murky Fela Kuti-inspired section led by the nimble fingers of Evans. “Pocket Change” felt like the band was hovering right over the rhythm with tantalizing precision until Zoidis put on his spacesuit and exploded on a solo and made it fly into the deep reaches of the atmosphere.

Lettuce took favorite “Madison Square” and morphed the furious four-minute groove on record and turned it into a 10-minute jam vehicle that saw the band explore some deep, dub reggae flows and Deitch rattle out an intense solo. It was Lettuce at its best, taking something old and turning it into a completely different beast. The band ended the night with the slap happy soul of “Sounds Like A Party To Me” and left the crowd in an ecstatic mass of dancing bodies. The show was possibly the best set the band has laid down in Tahoe, but Lettuce always exceeds expectations and you almost can expect lightning to strike twice at the Crystal Bay Casino when Lettuce takes the stage again Thursday, March 16. Night 1 is in the record books, hold on tight for Night 2.

-Garrett Bethmann

 

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The Shady Horns are Eric Bloom on trumpet and Ryan Zoidis on sax.
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Adam Deitch
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Erick “Jesus” Coomes
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Nigel Hall

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Neal Evans

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Ryan Zoidis
Ryan Zoidis
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Eric Bloom

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Click to see more of Larry Sabo’s photos from the show.

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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