Show Review: Tres Mts., Dos Guitarras, Una Gran Noche

by John Reynolds on March 27, 2011

Tres Mts. at the Grammercy

Tres Mts. has been a project in the works for over ten years, only had a record out for a few weeks, and to date has only played six shows.  Saturday’s show in front of an energetic New York City crowd showed that in any other year, Tres Mts. would have been able to surprise and entertain crowds in more than just a few select cities.

A newcomer to the Pearl Jam side-project portfolio, Tres Mts. has an interesting cast.  Doug Pinnick has been the bassist and lead singer of Rock/Prog trio King’s X for over 25 years, and they’re still going strong. His raspy and soulful voice coupled with spiritual lyrics have thrown some fans off, most used to Ed’s deep baritone or Shawn Smith’s (Brad) smooth falsetto.

Richard Stuverud goes way back with Jeff, playing in Seattle peers War Babies (which Jeff nearly joined pre-Pearl Jam), the Fastbacks, and later with Three Fish, who recorded and toured with two albums.

Oh yeah, Jeff Ament played guitar, bass and recorded the album. Some guy named Mike McCready was also brought in to add smokin’ leads.

Saturday’s show at the Grammercy Theater had the feel of a Pearl Jam show thanks to the tremendous efforts of Lisa Cressman and the Team McCready Global Event. The pre-party and fundraiser, held at an Irish bar just blocks north of the theater, featured great fan camaraderie, merchandise auctions and music from the Tangiers Blues Band, featuring photographer Danny Clinch. Capping this pre-show was an exuberant guest appearance by Mike McCready to the delight of fans.

The set opened with “Holes in the Road”, a song which days earlier was chosen to showcase the band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Pinnick, a lefty, came out slinging a Gibson that hung so low it looked like it had scratches on the bottom from hitting the floor. A tall, lanky musician donning a fedora, Pinnick – at 60!! – stomped around on stage and commanded the vocals, turning those “who is this guy?” looks into stares of admiration and appreciation.  Jeff and his Ampeg tower took over stage right (Stone’s side? Jeff’s Side?), with a gorgeous green Fender bass that had a rainbow gradient neck. Mike came out with a purpose, favoring the sunburst Gibson but switching between his many axes (yes, for this show, they’re axes!). Stuverud is a joy to watch live – a fan nearby described him as a mix between Glenn Danzig and Chris Farley – as he pounded the drums with a variety of sticks.

After the poppy “Utah”, “Mystery” really showcased Tres Mts. as a throwback to the Prog Rock influences of King Crimson and King’s X with a modern-day Marshall-crunch feel. “Makes Me Feel” had every band member playing unbelievably unique parts in a song with spectacular cohesion. Stuverud played maracas in the air, and alternately used them to smash the drums with great effect. Doug’s voice shined in a great mix – with Pearl Jam’s engineer Brett Eliason manning the soundboard. Mike mixed wah-wah and vibrato, while Jeff pensively cranked out deep bass runs characteristic of his Three Fish work.

“God Told Me” was dedicated to the Pope (yeah, OK, the lyrics make sense now), followed by an interesting crowd singalong on “Afrosheena”, with it’s unavoidably catchy chorus, featuring Mike and Jeff on backing vocals. After “In the Middle”, “She’s My New Song” was a real highlight. The song – which is split on the record between the main song and a machine-gun fast reprise – is one part “Of The Girl” and one part “Immortality”, ending with the band surrounding a spotlighted Stuverud absolutely destroying his kit, making you wonder if Stuverud was ever a candidate for Pearl Jam’s revolving drummer seat. Doubtful? If you’ve seen Tres Mts. live, you might scratch your chin as well.

“Oh, Lord” screamed with a “Mystery”-style dissonant riff, with Pinnick crying out that “the Cross is hard to bear”. “My Baby” – easily the most tangible track on their debut – got the crowd pogoing, while Jeff got in his familiar bent-knee pose, eyes closed looking up as the chorus drove home again and again and again.

After a short break, “Life” was a surprising gem, with Stuverud coming down to stage level to man the keyboards, and Pinnick mesmerizing the audience with gut-wrenching and emotional vocal delivery. “Life” ended the originals for the night, seeing them play every track from the album except the “Break” (for King’s X fans, the song most like anything off of Gretchen Goes To Nebraska).

Three covers ended the encore, the first a “blown up” (eherm) cover of Roxy Music’s “Every Dream Home a Heartache” which Mike started quietly on keyboards (!) then rabidly on guitar, featuring a nice moment where a towering Pinnick wandered over to the soloing McCready while wrapping his long arms around him. Showcasing the bluesy personality of Tres Mts., ZZ Tops deep-fried “La Grange” saw Mike inducing more face-melting with lightning-fast solos. Ending the night, Mike hoisted his Les Paul behind his neck for an extended solo, Pinnick howled in eerily-similar Hendrix vocals and Jeff got a good workout on a song with a fast and intricate bassline.

With the set done, the whole band was thrilled with the response from the crowd, waving thanks as Mike tossed out a pack of PJ20 stickers.

As I write this, Tres Mts. is hours away from their last show in Boston. If you missed them this time around because they didn’t play near you, be sure to catch them if the stars ever align again in the future. If you had the opportunity to catch them and passed, you really missed out on a super Pearl Jam side-project, and seasoned live act with Pearl Jam-concert energy.

2011-03-26-tresmts-setlist

Setlist courtesy of Laura Trafton

March 26, 2011 Grammercy Theater, NY, NY

  1. Holes in the Road
  2. Utah
  3. Mystery
  4. Makes Me Feel
  5. God Told Me
  6. Afrosheena
  7. In The Middle
  8. She’s My New Song
  9. Oh, Lord
  10. My Baby
  11. Life
  12. Every Dream Home a Heartache (Roxy Music)
  13. La Grange (ZZ Top)
  14. Fire (Jimi Hendrix)
John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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