My two cents is that when Ratdog first got going back in the early post GD days, I really couldn't stand them. Looking back, some of it may have had to do with the huge sense of loss about them not being the Dead, but really, I just couldn't warm up to it at all.
Now, though, I like them pretty well. They have gotten light years better. I like the direction Bobby took it as a "unit" band - no one player is more or less important than anyone else on stage. And while I don't always particularly agree with his choice of tempos or the "re-timing" ( for lack of a better word ) certain songs, hey, their pretty much his songs and he can do what he wants to, know what I mean? After all, when I play music I change things around if I want to too, so why not him?
As for P&F, I do prefer them to Ratdog, but I have yet to see the current lineup. Personally, though, I thought that the PLQ lineup and the Sless / Scofield lineups were just completely off the hook - I don't see how anyone could think that those bands weren't capable of getting to that magic place - I thought that they got there with amazing regularity. Plus, they were consistently tight units ( and we know how I love the tight
P/F is coming to a tiny little outdoor pavilion about 5 minutes from my house here in June, so I guess I will be seeing the new lineup then. As for Warren Haynes, no doubt he's an amazing musician with a ton of soul - but his style of playing can definitely be a bit more in your face and rocked up than many other players, so it might not always be everyone's cup of tea. Myself, while I love his playing, Gov't Mule just really doesn't do a whole lot for me. They're very, very good, but it just doesn't move me much.