Bullet music has interviewed the band prior to the ATL show from last week. The cool thing is that they recorded the audio and made it available on their soundcloud. You can find it linked in the article written by Garrison Pitts:
Our very own @jaredsusername has started a gear blog. He's got some great interviews and gear breakdowns with guys from Aqueos, Dopapod, Mungion, and more. Specifically, he sat down with Jordan to get us the low down on the bass man's rig. Check it out here:
This, of course, is a natural segue from the work Jared did a few months back:
@jaredsusername... you're killing it.
I will start this review by saying that I have not had this much fun introducing people to a band since I was begging my Dead Head friends to join me for Phish shows back in the early 90’s. The sheer joy I get from watching someone experience this band live for the first time is unparalleled.
I spent the day travelling across the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and met two of my friends in the ‘Burgh. Neither of these long time musical adventuring cohorts had ever seen Spafford play live and I was thrilled to be a part of the experience with them.
Arriving at the venue, the size of the building struck me and I was getting more and more excited as we made our way through the frigged winter air… Up the stairs and into a massive, beautiful room! Mr. Smalls is a converted 1800’s church. The ceilings are high and with a capacity of around 800, there was plenty of space. Being a Wednesday show, I was anticipating a smaller show but the crowd filled out nicely as we got closer and closer to the zero hour.
We only caught the final pieces of opener, Goose’s set but it was enough to tell that the room was built for acoustics. This room sounded GOOD! Add to that the high ceilings and big, deep stage and we had a sure bet recipe for a real good time!
The room was filling up as the band came out to open the show. We made our way up to Red’s side and got a real sweet spot that sounded and looked perfect.
Slip and Squander was a beefy choice for an opener and Red really opened up on this one. As he wove his way through the opening sequence, it was INSTANTLY clear that the band planned on having fun tonight! Right away Brian became animated, bouncing his way through the jam… his energy was contagious. I looked around the room behind me and could tell that the audience was fully prepared to jump in the deep end with the band right out of the gates!
Ain’t That Wrong rocked HARD from start to finish. Cam set the groove perfectly and the band absolutely smashed it. Vocals were clear and tight and again, the band was all smiles and high energy throughout. It was about midway through this one that I turned around to see my buddies faces held wide-eyed and in complete amazement. As I panned the audience, I saw this look on many of the faces in the crowd.
As Red pounded out the opening to Todd’s Tots, the crowd (myself included) lit up and started shaking and swaying to what is always a fan favorite. Brian’s guitar work was perfect! Red left spaces and Brian filled them up with sweet, gooey playing as the two traded the spotlight.
It didn’t take long for the Pittsburgh crowd to take notice of what would be the first cover of the night. The band introduced Aaron Hagele, percussionist for opening band, [Goose](http://www.gooseband.us/[link text](link url)) as a guest for the tune. The opening jam of Longview was sweet and soft but gave enough indication that even those new to Spafford instantly recognized the tune. The place went OFF at the first big hit and continued to rage throughout the face melting jam that ensued. The lights took on a life of their own and they accented every peak and valley of this super fun tune. During the deep, spacey jam, Jordan took to dropping a few well placed bass bombs that really shook us deep!
All In? YUP! I love the energy of this tune. There is zero hesitation when they really nail it, it jams start to finish on a good night and this is a GOOD night! The crowd was fully engaged and the musical energy was oozing from the stage. I love seeing this as a first set closer. So much fun! The whole band killed it and even though I was Red side, I couldn’t help but notice how well Jordan and Cam were putting it down. Red and Brian traded licks seamlessly and were visibly enjoying every second of it!
That was it for Set 1…powerful and rocking, it left me a sweaty, beaten mess. We RAGED that first set open to close and the place was on fire as the crowd took some time to collect themselves. I had a chance to speak to many Nerds and I got the sense that many in the crowd had just experienced the full force of a new passion griping them tightly. So so many first timers that I talked with and all were blown away. My two companions were completely sold from the first note. No strangers to the scene, both commented on the technical prowess of the band, the musicianship, and the way they connect on the jams. And OMG! The lights! This room was incredible and sounded amazing but the LIGHTS! They lit that old church up magnificently and added greatly to the first set experience.
And now, on to the second set. I am not even sure that I can do this experience justice with pen and paper, but I will try. I was expecting a pretty standard second set without too many segues, as the first set had contained none. Boy was I wrong! NOTHING standard about it and one big sequence without a pause…absolutely incredible. Set break was only about 10 minutes long and when the opening notes of Weasel started, the flood gates opened, and the floor was an instant ball of energy. EVERYONE was moving and this old church was getting HOT! They took the jam in completely new directions and seamlessly transitioned into All My Friends. WHAT?!? Weasel into All My Friends?!? What is happening here? Are we being set up for a second set that could contend with the legends?
Yup…we were! AMF continued to build the energy in the room even though it was a short tease of the tune and I am pretty sure that I heard a collective gasp as it became clear that the band was on a mission. I have heard All My Friends>Bee Jam before (most recently over the New Year’s run). I am a big fan of this little match up. I think the songs play very well to each other and this pairing did not disappoint. I suggest tuning your ear to Red and hearing the ridiculous playing he does in this space. The transition back into Weasel was pure madness…smiles were everywhere but none brighter than those on the stage. The band was happy….like the REAL kind of happy. They had just sealed the deal for a room full of willing souls…Pittsburgh has seen the light and the light is filled with tasty jams.
The band returned for one more and the choice of My Sisters and Brothers made me so happy. I am always a fan of Red singing us on our way, and he crushes this song. Jordan and Cam were extra tight on this send off and Brian filled each gap with perfect tone.
This show had it all…complete rockers, soulful jams, and funky dance beats. I enjoy every Spafford show I see and this one was exceptionally good. My friends lost their minds and are All In and we all had a great time in what turned out to be a dance battle with about 300 of my closest friends!
Till next time… Keep killing it!
**All photos credited to Pat Bruener via showtheshow.com
I'll try not to, but according to co-workers, I tend to ramble when I email so..
TL;DR: Spafford Fucks. Lancaster Sucks. I'm the King. Spafford wants to take my mom out?
Anyway, Let's get started.
"What the fuck? What is this place? Where are all the buildings? What's that sickly orange glow in the sky? Jesus, is that a horse and buggy? What year is this? What am I doing with my life?” I think as I stand outside that station, surrounded by nothing, waiting on my buddy to pick me up. My last show was the BK Bowl so this is quite the change. It's a friend's 30th Birthday so I get to party a bit there before grabbing my Uber over to the show.
I'll complain about this first. Security was uptight just yelling about getting us in when no one was even rushing or anything. I thought sound was good (I saw some complaints) but the layout was tough with a sold-out show. Pretty much had to choose getting drinks or seeing the stage which is a bummer. Lots of talkers, which I don't usually mind as I can tune them out easily, but this was another level. I find it hard to believe that Lancaster has more ChadBroWookButtheads than Philly or NYC but, well, they sure showed me.
Alright, now for the good stuff...
All In: Really enjoy this song and this version had a really nice jam. I haven't gone too far down the All In hole to rank it anywhere but it was a ton of fun and some fat bass from Jordan is a great way to start a show and get you moving.
It's a Bunch > On Fire: some fiery guitar work by Brian before a nice mellow building jam and, if you weren't already in party mode, by the time you even realized they slipped into On Fire you were full on grooving hoping your shoes were still on (they were, don't worry.)
Todd's Tots: Not much to say about this. Great playing and great version. Again, one I love but I still haven't taken the time to seek out the best of the best versions.
Radio: Digging this new one but it really gave the chompers their chance to shine. I had to ask Chad Wookington in front of me not to swing his hoodie around in the air since it was hitting people behind him in the face (this came up a few times). Kinda bummed the sing for me at the show but hearing it on the AUD it was a nice calm before the storm that was coming.
Leave the Light On: Highlight of the first set for me. One of the first Spafford songs I started getting into and this was a solid version. Great tight first jam and then it opens and goes big enough during the second jam that even the Chattiest of Kathy’s start grooving. Definitely gonna be listening to this a lot more.
Slip and Squander: Rick Mitarotonda from Goose (Their set was really a lot of fun, definitely a good choice to open. I'll be checking them out more soon I hope) sat in and was awesome. I already love the song and Rick and Brian played off each other great for a pretty sick version to end the set.
How pumped am I right now between 1-10: Probably about 7. Venue kinda eats it and it's a fight to get up closer to see better. But that was a great first set and I'm ready to keep moving.
Set 2 - This was pure rocket fuel that starts sweetly with a Happy birthday to JP as I walk out of the bathroom.
Now, maybe you already saw my post on FB about it, but I had mentioned a few days before how I'd love for them to mix up the sandwiches to keep us guessing. Now, I had completely forgotten about that post until like mid-second set
Shout out to DannSnack Williams too if you're on the site...cool name, man
Electric Taco Stand: I'm already a big fan of ETS so hearing “Let's Get Funky” as they drop into it raised my pumped meter up a bit. Really nice jam that builds and smooths a bit before Cam starts adding some Weasel-esque edrums as they wind down the jam into a mellow groove
Palisades: Definitely wasn’t expecting this but love the song and havent heard it live since my first show at American Beauty (RIP) and that show is ..hazy to say the least. Really happy to hear this. Seems a little rushed but I really dig it.
HARD STOP -> FUNK
Electric Taco Stand: They stopped on a dime and Brian dropped into a sick little groove with Jordan, Cam, and Red hopping right back in with him after a few seconds and the four of them bring it to a fun peak back into the lyrics. It was at this point that Chad Wookington had to be asked again to stop whipping his hoodie around in the air...I'm glad he's as pumped as I am about the music but don't hit us with your stink hoodie, bro. The outro jam may have been one of my favorites of the night, but I’m a sucker for that kind of slow bliss jam that builds and that's exactly what they did. Once that jam peaked they quickly dropped into another, more dance-y groove before switching gears.
Pumped Meter: about a 8-8.5. As Palisades dropped back into ETS I started thinking about that comment I made about the switched sandwiches but that ETS outtro had me forget all about it until...
Weasel: Funky groove drops hard into the Weasel intro and I start getting amped and now the first thing on my mind is how rad it would be if they played the set I said but figured it wasn't likely. First Weasel jam floats nicely for a bit, I really love the effect Red uses on the keys here. Not sure what it actually is but it reminds me of the reverse effect my delay pedal has. I hear it in a lot of jams and I'm really liking it. The jam winds down a bit and then I hear it:
Pumped Meter: 10
Alternate Ending: They maybe got like three or four beats into this before I lit up like the Griswald's house in Christmas Vacation. I couldn't hear it much on the AUD but maybe the SBD picked up my out of control OWWWEEE at the start as it became clear to me that they're playing what I said. Definitely one of my favorites (those blissy jams tho) and that peak is always just perfect. A few more Dave OWWWWEEEE’s at peaks to finish it out for good measure.
Pumped Meter: I don't know, some number I can't count to...like 14? 15?
Weasel: The transition back is quick but smooth as Cam eased back into the weasel groove leading to a great little jam that got Chad Wookington to spin Mrs. Wookington just a bit too fast and she fell down a few times as Chad let us all know that she's fine while proceeding to not help her get up.
At this point, I'm so jacked up and excited that drugs might as well have been taking me. Many people start to head towards the bar before encore and I use this time to get further up front finally. Being the Chameleon Club (with the Lizard Lounge next door) I was really expecting a Salamander encore but, no, they continued to keep me on my toes.
Take Your Mama: Fun little Scissor Sister cover I first heard them do at the Fillmore in Philly last Fall. Lots of fun and in my excitement started thinking to myself “so they played something I said...then played Take Your Mama...is this Spafford hitting on my mom? Tour ends in Florida...my mom lives there.”
Now, wheher or not someone with the band saw my comment and they decided to try it or it was just a sweet coincidence, I choose to believe that it was for me and I could not have loved it more. So you're all welcome. See everyone in Asbury!
Update! Asbury fucking ruled and no problems with anyone talking ...shit was rad. I need more.
2018 is going to be a big year for Spafford if this most recent start to their For Your Amusement Only Tour is any indication.
The excitement bubbling around this show was at an all-time high. The show sold out a good week-and-a-half before doors and many people were left looking for tickets for the show. Just goes to show that the phrase, "buy in advance guaranteed to dance" definitely rings true. So this is just a PSA for all you wooks out there to buy your tickets in advance so you won't get shut out.
My friends, unfortunately, aren't as smart as I am and about a dozen of them didn't get tickets so, of course, were like little helpless puppies. Luckily for them I was able to somehow work magic and find tickets and get them all into the show. They are forever indebted to me.
All the nerds met up at a local bar just two doors down from The Miramar called the Black Rose. It ended up being a huge turnout and the bar had no idea why so many people were present, and I told them they could give me 50% of the bar sales for sending all these patrons their way. I never got my money, but I'm still holding out that I will.
Now to what matters the most. The Show.
There was no opener and we just got an evening with Spafford and it sure was quite an evening. The Miramar has a legal capacity of 400 people and I am almost positive there were more than that amount of people in the venue that evening. It was packed, energy was through the roof, and people were ready to dance.
A pretty neat story to share: a friend of mine, seeing their first show that evening, was talking with me before the show and wearing a shirt that was once owned by former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers bass player Howie Epstein. Howie was from Milwaukee and my friend's family was friends with Howie's family and he had been gifted the shirt. Fate must be real because the band opened with their rendition of Breakdown by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and it was one to write home about. At over 15 minutes long they definitely stretched it out and grabbed everyone's attention. It was a great start to the evening and it was only going to get better.
Next up the band seamleslessly segued into My Road (My Road), a newer tune that was actually debuted in Madison, WI during Fall Tour. The song is quickly becoming a fan favorite and the jam sequence is always some smooth jazz funk and no one can complain about that.
Shake You Loose was on deck and the song has become one of my favorites of late. Just a good old-fashioned feel to it and the ladies love it. The dance party in The Miramar was just beginning.
The band started up Electric Taco Stand and that really got the crowd going. Taco Stand is one of the most fun songs in Spafford's catalogue and we got a special treat for this one with the > Dis Go in 5? > Taco Stand. The energy was through the roof when the band dropped back into the Taco Stand and some people actually thought the set was over and went to go outside and smoke, but nope, set not over.
Next up came Catfish John. Spafford does a phenomenal cover of this song and it never dissappoints. Spafford did play this the last time they were in Milwaukee, but it didn't even matter. After that ETS, Spafford could have played the fucking ABCs and everyone still would have a giant grin and be throwing down on the dance floor. That's how this Catfish John was. Raging. The band stopped and we all got a chance to catch our breath and refill on the booze and water that we all desperately needed.
Would like to take a second to note how much this sell out means to Milwaukee. The Miramar theater doesn't sell out jam shows really, ever. For the band to sell it out is great but so far in advance was awesome. The whole venue was full of friends and familiar faces and it couldn't have been more fun. It was great to catch up with lots of friends over set break, but everyone was ready for the second set after that monster first set.
Lovesick Melody, a new song, started to open the second set and it goes into Soil, which is another new tune. These songs have been played together now a few times and it seems its a suite, and it's a great new addition to the band's catalogue. Soil is some deep groovy funk and has the potential for massive jams in its future. It was a great version. The real insanity was just beginning.
Just before Weasel started my friend was like where is the Untz, I heard theses guys had untz! Boom! 10 seconds later, WEASEL. Weasel was not played too often on fall tour, but boy did it make a comeback. UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ. I don't really know what happened, all I know is that it was FUN. From the beginning Red lays down these long deep dark keys and the jam builds from there to some crazy peak and you don't think it can get any better until a seamless segue into Palisades. Alright. Someone pinch me. This beautiful composition is a treat. It's got beauty, finesse, and rock all meshed into one and it's the best. The greatest part about it is you know that the drop back into the UNTZ is coming. After Palisades blew people's minds the band dropped back into Weasel and all the noobs had no idea what just hit them. I highly recommend listening to this version because it's superb.
Honestly the show could have ended right there and I would have been content. But there was more music and I'm okay with that too.
Next up was After Midnight. Spafford crushed it. The real highlight was the outro jam where they slowly creep into Mind's Unchained. Mind's Unchained is a fucking great song. Everything about it. Lyrics, composition, jam. Up there in my top 3 Spafford songs. It wasn't too long, but it sure did pack a punch.
All In. Let me say after the ETS sequence and the Weasel sequence, now we got this ALL IN. This was epic. Just would like to comment on Cam's drumming during this because it's otherworldly. Does the guy have 8 arms? The jam took us to the moon and it was like an intergalactic drum circle. These guys are good.
Band leaves stage everyone is sad.
Band come back everyone is happy.
Into The Mystic was a treat, not too often played and had the crowd feeling all the feels, but they weren't done and as they went right into Galisteo Way the energy was insane. The jam had a nice pretty jam to it that was kind of influenced by Into The Mystic.
Show ended and the band got such an ovation it was amazing.
Milwaukee loves Spafford.
Sadly now I have to wait til March for some more shows out in the mountains, but things could be worse....
Photo Credits: Adam Mizewski- Adjomi Photography ( my good friend!)