Review: 2017-10-04 - The Ballroom at the Outer Space - Hamden, CT
Spafford easily chalked up another road “win” last night in Connecticut as part of their Fall Tour 2017. Coming off the heat that was a three song Tom Petty encore the night before in Vermont, I went into this mid-week show with low expectations and once again Spafford delivered! We got to the venue early to scoop up the 2nd Jon Rose poster (“Found it All”) and heard the band soundcheck “Areoplane” and “Longview” covers which fortunately worked their way into the set later in the night!
The Outer Space Ballroom has a funky little venue, very old school north New Haven, CT vibe and they can bring in top tier talent like Spafford. The venue probably holds 400-500 attendees max, so there's really no bad seat in the house. It felt like there were about 250-300 folks max in attendance for this mid-week show. This was a show for local fans as, unlike NYC or Philly, Connecticut is not a major concert destination.
The band hit the stage a little after 8:00pm to start Set 1. The room quickly filled in as the band got things going with Ain’t That Wrong. It is hard to not start dancing in place when they get this song going! Spafford did seem a little tired, if that’s the right descriptor, having been on the road and jamming the past few nights, so to me it felt like they were easing themselves and the audience into this mid-week show.
Next up was one of my favorite Red Johnson tunes, People. Again, pretty standard delivery of the song until near the end when the band dropped out to allow Red to perform a nice little piano solo that brought the room to brief standstill as we all watched Red tickle the ivory and bring us in for a soft landing.
At this point, Spafford must have called an audible against planned setlist they had printed out and they launched into the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Aeroplane (vs. the Spafford original Simon and Lily). This was only the 2nd time they have played this song, the other being NYC 12/31/2016. Areoplane really got this hump day crowd boogieing and singing along to this popular tune. Like any other piece Spafford adds to their catalog, they nailed this one and put their funky spin all over it!
Areoplane segued into a nasty little Backdoor Funk that seemed to open the band up for the evening to do what they do best – Jam! Backdoor Funk saw the band get out there for some more sonic exploration and I remember some really nice synth work coming from Red which I will have to have another listen to when this show makes it to nugs.net (not sure there were any tapers at this show). Backdoor Funk got the whole room grooving and doing that funky little Spafford noodle dance! I also remember Red getting down on some really nice Fender Rhodes sounds sprinkled into this spacey mid song jam. They definitely wound it up and got the whole room going as only Spafford can!
After the heat that was the Areoplane>Backdoor journey, Spafford decided to end the first set with Simon and Lilly. I was excited to hear the opening notes to this awesome original tune. Unfortunately, this song never really got propelled into outer space and the delivery ended up being pretty standard. I was really hoping Brian would jam this one out but toward the end it seemed they abruptly ended the tune and Brian announced a quick set break. Not sure if there was some technical stuff happening up on stage like a monitor not working, as Brian seemed to look of the side of the stage as they wrapped things up around 9:14p.m. All told, nice 1st set especially with the Areoplane bust out!
We all had a nice set break, this venue is super low key and chill so we could all go outside for some fresh air and a head check. Great fall evening with mild temps and plenty of fresh New England air. Outer Space ballroom also has a nice selection of local beers so a pretty easy venue to get in and out of with no hassles. The band took a short 15-20 minute set break.
Spafford got back on stage a little after 9:30p.m. to blast off into Set 2. Probably sensing we needed to get our tired Wednesday asses boogieing again, the band launched into their quintessential rocker, Weasel. Weasel did not disappoint either! They rocked this song hard and Red again took things into outer space with a very ambient keyboard jam. With the band firmly back in the driver’s seat, we were treated to another cool bust out of Green Day’s Longview. The crowd really got into this song and I liked the way Spafford put their spin on it. Brian nailed the lead vocals for this number and was pretty spot on with the chorus delivery. The band did, however, mix up the verse sections of the tune to give it a really funky, reggae type vibe which sprinkled the Spafford funk all over the song and made it more enjoyable than the original punk version. Great crowd sing along as well! Only the 2nd time this has been played as well, the other time being 10/29/2016.
Speaking of the 2nd set crowd, it was nice to see that the room remained filled with at least 200+ attendees which was great considering this was a mid-week show and Spafford could have lost some folks after set break which did not seem to happen.
Spafford then got back into their home turf and catalog with a sweet little It’s A Bunch instrumental. I love this one, especially when Brian kicks in his nasty little guitar riffs that define this tune. After rocking "It's A Bunch", the band took on another sonic instrumental journey with Virtual Bean Dip and we all funked out to their jamming.
The band then brought things home to close 2nd set with All-In with Jordan taking over on lead vocals. I always love this tune, when they “pick of the pace” and get this song rolling. I will have to give this one another listen as well because they jammed it out a bit and I remember Jordon dropping some major bass bombs along the way.
Spafford took a quick exit of the stage and left the building a little before 10:30pm. The crowd cheered for more and the band graciously took to the stage again. I was very excited to hear them launch into Salamander Song which is always a crowd pleaser. This kept the crowd going, but we definitely have some homework to do with the Connecticut fanbase as we had the normal miss-placed “Hey” sing-alongs with the band. I think I will host a workshop or webcast in the future to teach fans the proper timing of “Hey”! Heck, maybe I will even host a multi-day retreat entitled “Celebrating the Spafford Lifestyle – Unraveling the Myth of Unicorns and Snowmen in the Desert”! I digress…
I would have been happy for things to end there, but Spafford always has an extra goodie in their bag of tricks for their fans which is why I love this band! While not on their original setlist, we got treated to a jamming Galisteo Way tacked on to the back of Salamander Song. Holy shit, I did not expect a double encore on a Wednesday night. We got a rocking Galisteo Way with the band playing their hearts out and us yelling “that’s what they say” at the top of our lungs!
On the way out, got to thank the band for a great night and I asked Brian about the double encore. He reminded me that the last time they played the room, they had a late start and got booted from the stage early. They wanted to make up for it last night by giving us a special encore to thank the CT fans.
So, another Spafford show in the books. They are the nicest band and they really care about their fans and our complete enjoyment at their shows. I am grateful I found my next favorite band in 2017, these guys are the real deal and bring it every night. Fall Tour is off to a great start and I was lucky to see another two nights of music this tour before I getting back to the grind. Don’t miss a Spafford show, catch them right now while you can still dance up front and not battle massive crowds! Long live Spafford – see you Nerds on the road!
Daddy can't play favorites... But man did I love this review. Well done @uconnwes!
Thanks for the great review @uconnwes, definitely one of my favorites so far.
@uconnwes awesome review, man, thanks! I was at this show.. but got there at the very end of VBD, so only caught All In and the encores fully. I'm thrilled that it is finally up on Nugs although it is killing me to have missed all these great songs. That Backdoor Funk is funkin incredible! Venue was definitely cool.. played some Ms. Pacman on my way out. Hope to have a chance to catch them there again.. though next time for the whole friggin thing.