Review: 2017-10-06 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA
Beantown on a beautiful Autumn evening. I will admit my expectations were high as I exited I-93 and began to snake my way through he narrow streets of Cambridge. The Sinclair is a gorgeous theatre with a wrap-around balcony, seating just over 500 people, in the heart of Harvard Square.
I intentionally arrived a few hours early to avoid traffic, meet up with some fellow S'nerds and pregame a bit. It is said of one band in particular that you meet the "nicest" people on their tour...I have come to believe that you meet the most awesome people on Spafford tour! Fast forward, S'nerds assembled, tots from Tasty Burger consumed, ticket from Will Call procured, and right through the glass doors we go. Make one quick stop at the merch table to score that Jon Rose Fall V.2 print and to the rail we saunter.
Soule Monde opens the show, and for those of you not in the know, Soule Monde is composed of Ray Paczkowski and Russ Lawton. They are an organ/clavinet and drums duo that essentially spent the better part of 45 minutes funking the living shit out of one another. What a blessed way to get the evening lubricated. Toward the end of their set, the eager crowd had started to thicken. It was the consensus of my crew that we should rendezvous outside for some fresh air and rehydrate before Spafford took the stage.
On our way to the door, my friend George attempted to leave a pile of "Kiliing It!" slaps in the bar area. A random fellow approached and curiously inquired, "hey, are you the guy with the stickers?" "Fuck yeah, you want some?" offers George. " No man, I don't. And if I catch you handing those out I'm kicking you out...I'm serious! I have to spend all day tomorrow peeling those things off of everything in here." Well, after some reassurances and pleasantries, we walked straight out front and handed out every slap we had among us (it was a lot). In the midst of our hijinks we spy Cam, Brian, Jordan, and Red out front engaging the crowd and hanging out. Got a dap from Red and a compliment on my G-Way shirt that I was proudly rocking. With my smile permanently fixed, it was time to head back inside and claim our spots at the Blessed Rail.
From the edge of the stage I took a squint at the room and it was now a full house. The feel inside the room was pure excitement. The Sinclair was a palette of unique individuals from all walks of life, fervently ready to get down...cue the band.
The night begins with a mellow jam [Sinclair Jam] to get people's heads bobbing and hips swaying. It does not take the band long to introduce Boston to what the buzz is all about. In true Spafford fashion, the boys turn IT on and the entire house is now bouncing and wooing, (yes, wooing.) It is now apparent that we are in for a splendid evening. The jam drops into a tight and pretty straightforward Todd’s Tots. It appears my pregame ritual has paid dividends and it feels a shame I didn’t save a couple to toss back into the crowd.
Slip and Squander appears and takes the temperature of the room. Indeed, Beantown has a lot of heart and was hanging on Red's soulful run through one of my favorites. I mentioned the woo earlier and the crowd was particularly wooful during a quick and kinky little Space Gadget. When the next song started I really had to bend an ear at first to gather what I was hearing. Once identified, it was then that I gained a true appreciation for Spafford’s ability to gauge a crowd and balance the mood of a room.
I Shall Be Released flooded the theatre with a soothing reggae vibe that had The Sinclair swaying, singing, and grooving right along. The band swelled into a giant crescendo that hit like a breaker onto a jetty and erupted into a frenzy for the opening riff of Electric Taco Stand. It was during this turn through ETS > Dis Go In 5? > ETS that I really tuned into how tight the band has gotten over the last few months. ETS provides several start-and-stop moments throughout the progression and every member was locked in on one another. While this is not the longest ETS jam I've heard, it was most certainly packed full of energy and when it ended the house went nuts.
The second set opened up with a Spaff-test for the audience in the form of Salamander Song. When to "hey" (and not to woo) being the litmus...let’s just say that not many in the audience are getting into Harvard's Jam Program based on these scores. What I can say is that the band was smiling the whole time and it was plain to see that they were feeding off of the crowd's enthusiasm. Salamander built itself into a blissful serenade "dancing the whole way home."
Brian then asked, "Boston, how you feeling?" After a brief pause the band showed Boston who they were feeling as Feel Like A Stranger, the Grateful Dead original poured forth from the speakers as Red sang out "It's gonna be a long, long crazy night!" In recent years I think we have all experienced some great Dead covers. What struck me about this one was that while it was entirely recognizable, it felt completely true to Spafford"s sound. They have an incredible talent for picking excellent covers and making them their own.
Next up was Plans, which was new to my ears. This tune really bopped at the onset, but once it left the lyrical portion of the song...eeeeewWheee!!! All of a sudden the music from the PA took on a new form: you could smell the music, almost taste it. I've experienced this before and it was that unmistakeable funk! For those looking for "moments" within a show, do yourself a favor and give this song a listen. Just do it when you have access to a shower, because this jam was FILTHY and soap and water will be required to get it out of your ears.
I was in Vermont on Tuesday night when the guys debuted Breakdown during their Tom Petty tribute encore. The song made its second appearance and, as I mentioned before, Spafford really has a way with covers. Respectful and true to the artist who made it famous, while making it entirely their own.
The second set ended with an otherwordly Leave the Light On that saw every band member showcase their skills on their instrument, working in complete harmony with one another and creating a Type II soundscape that was an absolute joy to witness live. The transitions from the jams back into the song structure were flawless. While the band was a whole, it is worth mentioning that Cam was functioning like an absolute freight train throughout the latter part of this one and his influence turned my head more than once. The crowd was roaring when the Light went out.
After a brief break the guys came back out and mellowed the crowd back down with a very pretty take on Sweet. Again, setting the mood. Spafford continues to amaze me with their ability to gauge the tastes and vibe of a crowd and direct it accordingly. With that thought fresh in my head, The Postman showed up at The Sinclair and delivered the crowd a spaced out finish to an incredible evening of perfectly placed ebbs and flows.
As we filed out, myself and my band of S'nerds were all smiles and giddiness. Spafford came to Boston, sold out The Sinclair, and threw down an absolute burner for all in attendance.
@Brett-Tiede Great review!! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience! Hate I missed this one!
Thanks @Brett-Tiede for your killer review of this beauty of a show. i love the color you paint the scene with... i felt like i was there and you made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. i hope you keep reviewing for Spaffnerds in the future and hope we get a chance to rage together on the next east coast swing.
Super good review @Brett-Tiede !
Cant wait to rage another with ya
It really is so cool to have reviews for most the shows I went to that week written by people that I went to the shows with. Between that, the consistent SBDs coming through Nugs, and some fantastic shots a few of you have taken, I have a really special opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest weeks of my life. Thanks all
@Brett-Tiede @Cody @uconnwes @jaredsusername @crappygeorge @damian
And all the other S'nerds out here Killin' It !
@Kyle-Burbank this is why we do it. Spread the word about our work. :)