Horizons of Rock Shine Bright


Blues Traveler - Allman Brothers Band

World Music Theatre - Tinley Park

July 22, 1994

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 1994, Volume 1, #3

Written by John Metzger


An amazing weekend of music hit Chicago with the H.O.R.D.E. festival (short for Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere) passing through on July 22 and the Grateful Dead paying a visit on July 23 and 24. This year's H.O.R.D.E event was headlined by Blues Traveler and the Allman Brothers Band and included a total of 9 outstanding groups. Blues Traveler provided a solid 105-minute set that featured outstanding versions of But Anyway and Gina. Vocalist/harmonica player John Popper quickly led the band through a number of songs including a version of Optimistic Thought which raged at nearly twice the normal speed, and somehow, Popper still managed to fit some amazing harmonica work into the tune. Popper mellowed for a pair of selections,100 Years and Sweet Pain, which he dedicated to a fan who asked how his broken hip was doing. The highlight of Blues Travelers' set, however, was a stellar version of Mountain Cry, on which Warren Haynes, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, joined the fun. This version screamed with all the rampaging emotion of a mountain from the Pacific Northwest, whose trees were mowed down by the hand of man, leaving its inhabitants without a home.

As if this wasn't enough, the Allman Brothers played nearly two and a half hours of blistering blues, country, jazz, and good old rock! The third song of the night, Blue Sky, found the group fully hitting its stride. Mixing old and new material, the ensemble blew through a heartfelt Soulshine; a version of Jessica, which began to hit the outer reaches, and a version of Seven Turns, which featured a solid vocal rendering from Dickey Betts. The highlight of the Allman Brothers Band's set came towards the end of its show, naturally, as the collective broke into the best song off its new album: Back Where It All Begins. This song was treated with care and featured jams in all the right spots. Each lofty guitar lick from Betts and Haynes took the audience further back in time. Out of the primordial ooze at the end of the tune, crawled an amazing version of In Memory of Elizabeth Reed that jammed for what seemed like an eternity. The song built slowly and steadily in intensity until it climaxed with the entire conglomerate of musicians playing their hearts out and collapsing in a heated drum solo.

Over the course of the day, 7 other bands, most of which were unsigned by major labels, took the stage for their own brand of musical ingenuity. Among them were Soulhat who rocked in the style of Pearl Jam, Ugly Americans who were sort of a mixture of the Black Crowes/Spin Doctors/Who, the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies who mixed the styles of Blind Melon and Blues Traveler, and Sheryl Crow who had a mixture of styles from country rock to Nirvana-style grunge. Crow also squeezed in a wonderful cover of The Beatles' I've Got A Feeling.

Finally, as if the music wasn't enough, a pair of 30-minute music workshops were held. One featured John Popper, Sheryl Crow, and several others. The second featured Warren Haynes and Jaimoe from the Allman Brothers. Unfortunately, I only made it to the first workshop. It was crowded but well worth it! The group played the best version of the now-cliché Sweet Home Chicago that I've ever heard. Popper stated that if you're jamming, and you set a groove right, it just hangs there. To prove their point, the band began a funky impromptu jam, stopping several times. You could feel the beat just hanging in the air!

All in all, it was one hell of a day, and an excellent start to the weekend! One Chicago Tribune reviewer (Howell J. Malham Jr.) called this concert "Lollapalooza Light" and failed to mention the Allman Brothers and took pot shots at Blues Traveler. He also praised Big Head Todd who were by far the most boring of the bands in attendance. Lollapalooza, while starting out as a good idea, has become a commercialized entity existing solely to put big bucks into the pockets of Ticketmaster and greedy record companies. H.O.R.D.E., on the other hand, exists solely for the sake of the music, and it brings to light the songs of many bands that have far less exposure of those on Lollapalooza.

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Copyright © 1994 The Music Box