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!)
Catullus was originally slated as local support for Spafford's show tonight. Since it didn't work out we wanted to give you Nerds a chance to see what they're all about. They're touring the east coast, they've written a rock opera based on Homer's Odyssey, and their debut album is up on Spotify.
"Emerging from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Catullus is building a reputation up and down the East coast for their deep grooving and sweat inducing sets. The ecstatic and energetic music that exudes from the four talented musicians effortlessly oscillates between progressive rock, and electronic untz. Steeped in the improvisational tradition, each set carries with it the potential of 1,000 different paths forged only at the moment of inspiration. The powerful vocal harmonies and lyrics truly makes Catullus a unique experience that is not to be missed... "
"Domino Days" is a part of their soon to be released Rock opera "The Journey". "The Journey" was written by their Guitarist Andrew Meehan and is based of Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey". This song features the part in the poem where Odysseus' crew tears open the bag of winds given to him by Aeolus and blows their ship off course.
A Maze in Life, their debut album, is available on spotify here:
You can check out their YouTube channel here:
And their facebook here:
Upcoming Tour Dates
2/16 - Sprout Music Collective - West Chester, Pa w/ Mczwang
3/31 - The 8x10 - Baltimore, Md w/ Broccoli Samurai
5/12 - Ardmore Music Hall - Ardmore, PA w/ Runaway Gin
More dates will be announced shortly. Check their facebook
Check out their stuff and let's give them a warm, nerdy welcome
Ahhh what a great day it was, I got to see Spafford for the fourth time in two weeks. The weather in North East Wisconsin was mid 40s and raining-- not bad for Wisconsin in the winter, but nothing like Arizona two weeks ago. I was aware that Minnesota just had the storm we were about to get hit with in Wisconsin, so I was ready to go earlier than I had planned. I got in touch with my friend Andy, who I met at a few Phish and Umphrey’s shows, and got to bunk at his and his wife’s place in Minneapolis. The drive to Andy’s contained white knuckles 90% of the way. I have driven in many snow storms before, but with the rain turning to snow and the temperature dropping to about 12 degrees by the time I was an hour into my drive, I knew this wasn’t going to be a “drive fast take chances” kind of deal here. The right lane was fairly “clear” thanks to the tire tracks made by the the select few cars that decided to be on the road at this time. The left lane though? You better be All In for that ride. I made a few passes at a decent speed until I saw the aftermath of a nasty Semi vs SUV accident (positive thoughts sent.) After five-and-a-half hours in a car (a drive that normally takes four-and-a-half), seeing five cars in the ditch and a nasty accident, I was so glad to be pulling up to Andy’s house.
I passed through Stratford, WI. A horrible misspelling of Spafford.
I knew I was walking up to the right house when I saw that vibrant Green Bay Packer flag hanging on the wall. Andy’s house was gorgeous, filled with a jam band fanatic's dream of signed posters by your favorite artist’s favorite artist and by your favorite band’s favorite band. Of course, when I arrived I had to have a beer and catch up with Andy. Then Andy, his wife Lauren, and I went to get a burger at Mr. Burger, a place I now highly recommend. I ordered the Burger of the Month which contained peanut butter, panko-breaded deep-fried banana slices, bacon, and a burger. Let me tell you what, that burger was the highlight of the evening so far. After the burger shack we went back to Andy’s to have a few more free beers before we started forking over hard-earned stable genius dollars to guzzle down PBR’s that contained 2% less alcohol than the same beer in Wisconsin. We slammed the beers and called an Uber to head to the venue.
The venue, 7th Street Entry (a sister venue to First Avenue), was one of the smaller places I have seen Spafford perform a sold-out show, so I knew it was going to be real nut-to-butt. When we got to the venue I had known about the new merchandise that hit the shelves for this tour, so you could “cash me at the merch booth”. I hadn’t started collecting prints until I went to my first Spafford show, the infamous Pizza Jam show. Now I buy one each show I attend. Huge thanks to Jon Rose, the prints are always gorgeous. The big bummer was the fact that they didn’t have any tubes available for the posters, so Andy and I bribed the guy at coat check to hold the posters in a safe place, so I could grab them after the show. He abided. Then it was time to get ready for the heat to kick in.
Spafford hits the stage and the crowd cheers as we get some nice smiles from the boys. Brian, Jordan, and Red seemed to be pretty bundled up with fleece jackets on and sweatshirts. I couldn’t see Cam much throughout the show with how small the stage was, but I could sure as hell hear him back there. They got situated quickly, and boom, Backdoor Funk opener reminded me that I was right where I belong. It was a pretty straight forward BDF that welcomed everybody to this ice-cold venue and city. After a nice peak to cap off BDF, they went with People. Any song that Red sings I am an instant fan of, so I enjoy People often. It appeared that there were some technical issues after seeing some mouthing directed at the side of the stage. Whatever it was, they got it fixed, or it sounded like it. Red was a nice feature with some great synth work and piano play. Nothing out of the ordinary.
A big jam contender hit the scene next. In The Eyes Of Thieves, which is one of my recent favorites, kicked off after a nice ending in People. Shortly into the jam, they locked into a nice groove featuring some funky playing by Red and Jordan. The jam is great and almost appears to come to a peak, only to go back into another jam. Things definitely heated up, because Brian shed his fleece jacket after that Thieves.
Radio was here to bring us back down to reality. This is my second Radio (and the band's second performance of Radio) and I really, really like this song. Brian’s vocals are great, and songs like these are always a nice alternative to the raging funkiness that I love. Aeroplane flew in next to pick up the funk. “Looking in my rear-view mirror,” I could see that everyone was enjoying this Red Hot Chili Peppers cover. Jordan nailed the singing, a nice mini bass solo, and the band erupted into the jam. The segue from this pleasing jam into The Postman seemed effortless. It was golden. Golden showers everywhere. The Postman heated the whole block with cheers, woos, and a fiery jam. This is my recommended listen of the night. I have it marked as the highlight of the first set and a possible contender of the whole night. The Postman was a nice warm fire to sit next to while we waited for the second set. The set break contained many odd things that are now on my list for “strangest things seen at a show”, but my favorite was running into a childhood friend’s older sister at the show.
What a coincidence, the second set starts with On Fire. And was it fire. You would think I am a pyromaniac with all this fire talk. This jam proves that Cam is a perfect fit for these guys. The more I listen to Cam throughout the night, the better he gets. I can’t say enough good things about him. The jam starts off and it puts me in a nice warm tropical setting, transitions into a spacey trance funk jam, and caps off with some silky-smooth guitar work. The second possible contender for highlight of the night came right away in the second set. I highly recommend this one as well.
Now it was time for me to enjoy the hell out of my favorite Chuck Johnson song, Slip and Squander. This is one of the songs that hooked me on Spafford, other than their jams. A beautiful peak in the end by Brian covered me with goosebumps, letting me know I truly feel this music and love this band. The slow intro into Leave The Light On was mesmerizing and well done for the longest jam of the night. Next, and unfortunately the last song of the set, came my third Funkadelic, and wow, I loved it, and so did the crowd. My notes coined this one “Funk Hoe Down show featuring Brian, Red, Cam, and Jordan”. I also noted that I was a little butthurt that the second set was significantly shorter than the first. However, there is a remedy for that, and it came in the encore. The Remedy encore was straight forward, but Spafford’s straight forward is like watching Aaron Rodgers destroy NFC North teams on a casual Thursday night. Andy and I hit the bar that was attached to the venue and I decided to end my night on a drunk note as my single gin-and-tonic that I ordered was stronger than Ric Flair. It was a great night all around, and the next morning reminded me of that with a lovely hangover. Time for a drive back home and down to Milwaukee for the Miramar show.
The Funny Teenager
@keeganlauer on Instagram and Twitter
It looks like there's an interview out today with everybody's favorite bassist. Check it out here:
It's written by Lizzie Morelli who may know Jordan better than any of us. She says up front that they live together. Pretty cool to be a music journalist, to live with a killer musician, and to be able to interview him on the record. Take a peek into a Saturday morning in a quiet home in AZ. Then hold onto your buts for the start of the "For Amusement Only Tour."