Yes & Dream Theater @ Viejas Casino and Resort, Alpine CA 09/16/04
Waited a loooong time for this. I don’t know if the hour with DT wore me out, but by the time Yes was halfway through their set, I was ready to drive back to Orange County!
This was my 3rd Dream Theater gig this tour (Train of Thought 2004) and my first ever Yes show. I purposely avoided the online spoiler setlist and review threads so I could listen without prejudice or preconceived expectations. Needless to say, I was WOWED. First, let’s start at the beginning:
I got off of work early and began the drive solo to Alpine, CA (San Diego County) at 3:00pm. I already had tix to the Universal show and picked up this SD ticket last minute. I ran into traffic on ALL the damn freeways: the 5-South, the 805-South and the 8-East which was annoying as hell. It should have taken me 90 min to get there, in reality it took 2 hours 15 minutes. Got to the venue 45 minutes before doors opened!
The Venue itself is actually a pristine little oasis in the middle of nowhere. To be fair, it’s actually part of the Viejas Casino complex which is located on the Viejas Indian Reservation. The Viejas Casino is on one side of Willows Road, while the Concert Park is on the other side. The Viejas Concert Park is actually nestled among a cluster of outlet stores. I got the chance to have a Subway sandwich 200 feet away from the stage and listened to DT’s soundcheck as I ate my dinner on the Subway Shop patio!!! I could see the stage and watched the guys fiddle around, then tear into a superb but shortened version of “In The Name Of God.” I kicked myelf for not bringing my camera. I could have gotten some sweet shots from my vantage point. There were a handful of other DT fans milling about, straining to see the guys soundcheck. At first we couldn’t tell which band was soundchecking. The Siamese Monster was visible, and Alan White’s kit was setup just behind the Monster, but no drummer was visible, at least it was difficult to spot the drummer. “So who’s warming up?” asked one of the DT fans. Then we heard a series of rapid fire quads with double bass fills…you know, the kind that will make you cream your pants. All doubt was now dispelled. “It’s Miiiiiiiiiike!” screamed one of the guys. Outlet shoppers going about their business also stopped to see what all the fuss was about. A very cool and intimate little setup. I finished my sandwich and entered the park.
I found my seat and made myself comfortable. Seating was designed for a crowd under 1,000. It was cool looking at all the different T-shirts. Pleasing to see quite a few DT shirts in there. I was representing, wearing my AWAKE Tour shirt. A security staff member approached me and asked about Dream Theater, she hadn’t heard of them (of course). I gave her a brief history of the band, compared them to some other groups she had heard of, namely Metallica, Rush, QR and the like. She explained that she’s gotten into a lot of good music thanks to opening bands. She told me that she was looking forward to DT’s performance, shook my hand and walked back to her post.
The park was 2/3 to 3/4 full as DT teared into their set. They got rabid applause from numerous sections of the crowd. The majority of the crowd stayed seated, but it was cool to see clusters of fans here and there, standing and cheering, hootin’ and hollerin’ as DT went through “About to Crash.” I was in a cluster of about a dozen fans and we stood and cheered throughout the whole performance. The obvious Yes fans sat patiently and curiosly. Some looked a tad bored, but that changed once DT gave them a kick in the ass by ripping into a surprise Yes cover, “Machine Messiah.” There were 2 Yes shirts a few rows in front of me. As soon as they recognized Machine Messiah they turned to each other and their jaws dropped in astonishment. They stood up and didn’t sit down again The crowd gave DT a standing ovation after “Stream of Consciousness.” I believe the crowd was won over by that point. We lapped it up, even during slower selections like “The Spirit Carries On” and “Solitary Shell.” Solo sections by JP and JR left the crowd mesmerized. I heard numerous comments like “Who the hell are these guys!?” DT concluded their set to generous applause and a standing ovation.
The Roger Dean set was not used tonight, and probably won’t be for the rest of the outdoor/casino shows. Yes came up and began with “Going for the One,” followed by “Sweet Dreams” and “I’ve seen All Good People.” Sound quality was great, but was lowered considerably during ISAGP. Several fans kept shouting at the band to “TURN IT UP!” The yelling was more annoying than the lowered sound volume.
There were a lot of older fans in the crowd, complete with eye glasses, receding hairlines and old concert shirts that were either too old or too small now, but that’s ok. Much to my surprise, there were quite a few spanish speakers in the audience. Hell, they were to the left of me, to the right of me, and some louder ones a couple rows back. Jon thanked everyone for coming, and even acknowledged the visitors from surrounding areas like LA and Mexico. A bunch of fists including mine shot up into the air in recognition. I’ve run into some latino Yes fans at the Guitar Center where I work. They voice their approval whenever I’ve got Yes playing over the kickass Bose “speaker on a stick” sound system. They have a deep appreciation for Steve Howe’s intricate acoustic work. Many of these shoppers are lovers of the Martin and Cordoba Acoustics and now I see why.
The rest of Yes’ set consisted of “America” which I was hoping they wouldn’t play. Never cared for it, that’s all. The set was typical of what they’ve been playing the rest of this leg, EXCEPT: “Close to the Edge” and “Starship Trooper” were left off to my disappointment. “Yours is No Disgrace,” “South Side of the Sky,” “Awaken” as well as “And You And I” did make the set thankfully. The acoustic set was very entertaining, particulary the reggae version of “Long Distance Runaround” and the Chicago Blues versions of “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” but why the hell would you close a show with “Every Little Thing” ??? All in all a great 3 hours. I’m very glad I finally caught Yes, one of those great progressive rock pioneers from Yesterday, no pun intended. Special thanks to the late Keith Ashley Kitchens who introduced me to Yes. I greatly appreciated those chats. You’re sorely missed, man.
Jon Anderson of YES during the YES/Dream Theater Tour