Review: 2017-10-01 - The Haunt, Ithaca, NY
Another day, and another adventure - but this was one that I have been looking forward to since the fall tour announcement. We pulled into our campsite at Buttermilk Falls State Park (less than 5 miles from the venue) on a chilly fall day in western New York after a 3.5 hour drive from Canton, NY where we saw Aqueous the night before. I get to see two of my favorite bands in the same weekend? Unbelievable!
Delaney got a fire going, and we hung out in the hammock and relaxed until it was time to get ready for the show. @Kyle-Burbank arrived just in the nick of time to head down to the venue (he drank way too much Jameson at Aqueous), so with Delaney laying down in the bed in the back of our car, and Kyle riding shotgun, we drove out of the campground and only a few minutes down the road to get to the venue.
We pulled down a side street where "The Haunt" appeared out of nowhere, with the band's giant RV sitting precariously out front. There were maybe 10 cars there, with just about 10 people outside waiting for the doors to open up. We were let in just as Space Bacon was wrapping up their soundcheck. I had been listening to these guys for a while and was pumped to get to see them opening up for Spafford of all people! They finished their soundcheck, so we went outside on the deck to "get fresh" as my aunt calls it. We were surprised to see that the venue was located directly on the inlet to Cayuga Lake, with little docks for people to pull up to on their boats and everything!
While we were getting prepared for the Space Bacon set, Brian happened to wander outside right where we were! We introduced ourselves all as Brian, something we did after the BB Kings show for whatever reason, and reminded him that we were those same people. He was happy to talk to us, and we had a great conversation with him to start off the night. Brian wasn't familiar with the geography of the Finger Lakes Area and claimed that had only seen Cayuga Lake on the map. He called it the Noodle Lake!
Anyway, we headed inside for the Space Bacon set and got down with a very small crowd (~30 people or so) for a great opening performance that featured a continuous flow of music. I'll definitely be going to see these guys again, and I recommend you do too! With the opening set over, the anticipation was even greater - we passed the wait by sparking up conversations with others there and handed out a bunch of "I'm Killing It" stickers. There was a sense of excitement in the air, I think that only 1 or 2 people that I talked to had seen Spafford before.
Everyone knew that they were the real deal, but I don't think they were fully prepared for what they saw this night! Right as the band took the stage, I gave the guy behind me a sticker and he was both amazed and confused with the message that it carried - he loudly said "I'm Killing It?" - everyone laughed and the band kicked in, a perfect way to start the show.
The Mind's Unchained opener set the tone for the rest of the night with patient, focused, and inspired improvisation... we were in for a special performance. The jam that evolved mimicked the feeling of being there. With less than 100 people in attendance, this was a HUGE change of pace from the sold-out 600 person crowd at Brooklyn Bowl the night before, and certainly had an intimate vibe. As early as it was in the show, I looked around at everyone else and could see that they already grasped why Spafford has so much hype.
I'm 3/3 with Backdoor Funk and I totally love it. This version is no slouch, a Brian solo turns into a sick jam that shows how well these guys are communicating right now and I definitely recommend giving it a listen. Hollywood has come to be one of my favorite Spafford songs, and I was so happy to hear it tonight! They didn't take this one for a ride, but check out this one and this one where they do and you'll appreciate it a little more.
Windmill was up next, and at this point, I knew that everyone in the room had completed their spaffnerd transformation with hoots and hollers jumping out of the crowd throughout the song! I only heard one negative thing all night, which was some drunk woman saying something about steam and harry hood... I'm not so sure that has any relevance to the performance, but some people have to realize the awesomeness of Spafford in their own way.
I'll take this moment to point out and fully appreciate Cam's skills on the drums - he puts a special touch on all of these songs and really drives the jams to some interesting places. His interactions with Brian, Jordan, and Red are exciting to watch and show that they really are having a great time up there! Brian in particular seems to be entranced with Cam and his abilities. He watches Cam almost as much as the crowd does and gives subtle cues in his playing that lead to some magical moments. After Windmill, I could hear some murmurs in the crowd for requests... Salamander Song and Sweet among the few being shouted out and I couldn't blame them. Then someone yelled Tweezer Reprise - Jordan shook his head, definitely not going to happen anytime soon! Instead, they broke into Soul to Squeeze, which had only been played 7 times at this point, featuring some awesome Jordan vocals with the crowd and the whole band singing along and smiling. I thought the band was reading my mind when Red broke into The Remedy. An already amazing set just got pushed over the top with one of my favorite songs. Could this have been inspired by a friend gifting Cam one of my Remedy pins at Brooklyn Bowl the night before? We'll never know! Regardless, I recommend checking this version out. This band fucking rocks!
Set break featured some great conversations with many newly converted nerds who were pumped to receive some "I'm Killing It" stickers. The great thing about these small venues is that they allow reentry! Going back to the car to refuel is an opportunity that I will never take for granted!
The band walked out onstage for set 2 to a crowd that was hungry for some more Spafford! Parody was one of the last songs I was expecting to hear as the set opener, but I was surely happy to hear it! This version features a great jam that gives birth to It's A Bunch out of seemingly nowhere. I really love Cam's approach to this song. The jam out of It's A Bunch is excellent, with the band in no hurry to get anywhere anytime soon - eventually we find our way back into Parody to finish off the song. What a start to the second set!
In The Eyes of Thieves is another one of the many great Spafford originals, it even has a studio version from the self-titled Spafford album, along with Parody, which I've given a lot of play time lately. The band jumps off after the lyrics into a nice little Jordan-fueled jam that had all four of them firing on all cylinders for yet another time in the night. We heard the opening notes of America, and knew we were about to get into some deep jam territory. The LD even threw on red, white, and blue lights for the full effect during the lyrics! The Reprise was the icing on the cake of this show, and the Plans encore was the other piece of cake that you know you needed to eat. This Plans featured a nice jam that sent us dancing the whole way home!
We stuck around after the show had ended and surprisingly enough, Kyle and I were the only two in the building who were interested in getting a setlist! That goes to show just how small this crowd was - in comparison. The guys on Spafford's crew told us that at Brooklyn Bowl the previous night, people were jumping on stage trying to grab setlists! I sent back a few of my Remedy pins with him as well to give to the band, so hopefully they received and liked them! It's the least I can do for these guys as thanks for creating such amazing music.
Overall, this was a kick-ass show - my first Spafford two setter, and the first of three shows I'll be seeing on this Fall Tour.
Catch them while you can at these small venues, because I'm telling you, it's not going to stay this way for very long!
Great review of what looks like an overall GREAT WEEKEND!! With a crowd that small it sounds like a special show for sure!
My wife went to school in Ithaca. It's a great little city. I can only imagine what it would be like to see Spafford there. I'm surprised there wasn't more of a draw from the colleges.
Great review Cody! Thanks for doing this!
Wow 100 people, that's an intimate night
Great review man, looking forward to the next one.
great review man.. :)
Cody, killing it! I totally lived an adventure through this review. And I'm pumped to listen to some jammed-out Holywoods. Thank you, sir!!
Thanks everyone! ICYMI, you can access the nugs recording through the show link. This Parody > It's a Bunch > Parody lives up to my memory of it!
Gave this show a listen this morning thanks to them releasing it on nugs. Great jams bookend the 1st set (mind's unchained + remedy)
Parody->it's a bunch->Parody probably the least likely 2nd set opening jam vehicle i would think of but they did a hell of a job!
Parody->It's a Bunch transition is signaled (by Jordan) at least 1 minute prior to the full segue! Gotta love those.
@RadiantDarkness that's my vote for Jam Of The Year
@RadiantDarkness The segues and jam in It's A Bunch are amazing. Really unique show!