Many people have asked me about Our Own World. For one reason or another they had found themselves placed directly in the path of a magnificent tidal wave and despite their reasons for being there, whomever asks always gets the same response: you need to see it to believe it. As I sat and listened to a funky sound check I hardly noticed as the band slipped into their version of the Grateful Dead’s “Fire On the Mountain”. With the smooth backing of bassist Billy Sullivan singer and guitarist Collin Curtis stands tall as he lays down a solo that would cause any fan of the Dead to nod their heads in approval. Curtis has a unique talent of taking each cover and singing it with the passion of its original author. A building rhythm presents itself as lead guitarist Brandon “Spacebird” Cyr begins to take the forefront with a lofty melody that guides the band gently into “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd. If the Grateful Dead is where Curtis shines than Pink Floyd is Cyr’s sunlight, charging him up and sending him soaring in a way only Superman himself could know. Similar precision and emotion punches forth gorgeously from Cyrs guitar as he screams into a whirlwind of unforgiving notes to close out the song. And then there was Sullivan. As the bassists thumb comes down upon the strings of his instrument the foundation of the Spotlight Tavern in Beverly, MA is put through the ultimate test in Phish’s “Weakapaug Groove”. Listening to the swirling pattern of Cyrs playing I could not help but wonder at the lack of originals. Jamming out of “Weekapaug”, drummer Jacob Snyder began to gleam in a flurry of cymbal strikes that builds to a beautifully constructed solo by Cyr featuring simple yet amazingly credible “Harry Hood” teases (also Phish). Now out of “Weekapaug” the band comes together to take the next step into a funk inspired southern rock jam. Each member faded away as they stood together as a perfect whole. Their sound was flawless and nothing short of impressive. Reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band they decided to drop the flavor of Curtis Mayfield as Sullivan proceeds to set the pace with thundering accuracy. Cyr steps to the front of the stage in an attempt to bring more ferocity to Sullivan and Snyders monstrous rhythm and has little trouble in doing so. Just as the jam hits a fever pitch the band stops and beings their version of the classic “Turn On Your Lovelight”. This time it is Cyrs turn to take charge as the clean, powerful chords of the American classic send Snyder into a trance as he delivers a frantically heavy solo. With cheers from the previously dormant crowd ringing out they stopped and stood with a smile. It was time for others to have their turn as the open jam proceeded.
After a series of performances from various local musicians (all of which worthy of top billing in any local venue) it was time for Our Own World to once again take the stage. A brief tune up jam (one of my favorite traits of Our Own World) and we were off. Gradually the tune up fades away to reveal an instrumental rendition of Phishs “Meatstick”. With lofty guitar licks the crowd begins to find its way to the stage inciting Snyder to react. Signaling the the change with a blast of the snare the band effortlessly moves into “Kyles Song” by moe. Just as I began to find myself disappointed at the continuing lack of originals the disappointment was gone as quickly as it came, overtaken by a blistering solo from Cyr. Expert precision favors Snyder as the wonderfully placed cymbal crashes ring true throughout the bar. A few more crashes and Sullivan has had enough of the pace and bombards the audience with a knee buckling display of sheer power. Kicking the jam into overdrive, he and Cyr lock in for a collective journey at the speed of light featuring Pink Floyd teases in the form of “Another Brick In The Wall pt.2″ and “Young Lust”. Just before igniting the band decides to save the audience the trouble of the fire alarm going off by reentering and finishing “Kyles Song”. Much to my displeasure Curtis begins moving into “Brown Eyed Woman” by the Grateful Dead. Curtis never fails to deliver when the Grateful Dead is concerned and this time was no different. Despite my yearning for originals I found myself bobbing my head to the familiar tune as they closed it out. Watching the band group up and have a quick conversation I sat patiently and waited as Curtis took a drink and I was instantly rewarded for my patience in not only an original, but a personal favorite in “My Girl”. Light melodies from Cyr compliment Curtis as he releases each word with absolute passion and sincerity. Moving from the verse to the chorus the entire crowd rises with Snyders high-hat and falls perfectly into Cyrs lap as he begins a gut wrenching solo to end the song. With a soft laugh and a thank you the band opts for another original titled “Moving Through”. Curtis’ lyrics speak of experience as opposed to theory and it shows. Reaching into your head and pulling you away from contemplating Curtis’ lyrics and back to the here and now is another wailing solo from Cyr to end the show as well as another fantastic Tuesday night at the Spotlight Tavern.