Review: 2017-11-05 - House of Blues Cambridge Room, Dallas, TX
Full disclosure: I am first and foremost a Deadhead. I was lucky enough to see Jerry play with the boys 116 times and I was in no way finished when it all ended. For about 20 years, I really only listened to the Grateful Dead… one of those kinds of Deadheads. I was accused of being a tad narrow-minded in my musical tastes. So five years ago when I agreed to go see Spafford, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. Me? See a band that is not a GD cover band? I remember that it seemed as soon as the show started it was finished. I turned to my spiritual guide, Scott, and said, “WTF man? How can they be done already? They just started!” “Heidi, they’ve been playing for like 90 min,” he said. Suffice it to say: face melted. Completely. I walked out of there saying, “These guys have ‘something’ and they are going to ‘go somewhere.’” I’ve never said that about any other local band ever, and, I’ve been seeing bands play bars for about 30 years.
I’m not even sure I can adequately articulate how important I think it is that Spafford includes a Grateful Dead song in the majority of their shows. It’s a shout-out to Jerry and the boys, of course, and the positive influence their music has had on them as musicians and maybe even as people. And it's also a shout-out to us, the fans, acknowledging the fact that we love the GD too. Acknowledging that our love and support is part of what has got them where they are right now, and as a sign of their thanks they give us these little presents of GD songs. I always get a little giddy when I hear other people do the Dead’s music and it's just amplified when it’s Spafford playing.
The momentum they have this tour is amazing! Every show is better than the last and I thought I was only getting the AZ shows (“only” what an ingrate, that’s FOUR shows) but as luck would have it, I got a surprise show… Dallas. And I just could not wait to see them. I was able to make a work thing get me to Dallas at the right time so it had that added bonus of being on the company’s dime!
I got to the venue a little early and hung out in the super cool restaurant/bar for a beer and had a great conversation with the bartender, who, upon hearing my excitement for the band, decided he needed to check them out! I met a couple of Nerds as we entered, one of whom was none other than the Speedy Gonzales of tapers, one Don Olker.
They started out strong with Mind's Unchained which is a huge favorite of mine. Next, a kickass 18-minute Longview that slipped seamlessly into It’s A Bunch. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone yell “Are. You. Fucking. KIDDING me?” why, I could’ve bought two or three of their $9 beers. Brian’s jam got faster as my smile got bigger. Next up was Diana, always a fun and refreshing ditty. Then came Plans… I just love the different changeups in this song and of course the “why ya ya ya ya ya ya oh oh oh oh” had everyone going. Then came Red’s turn to shine, playing a song that seemed to be about me, Feel Like a Stranger, as I was one to this town. Not only does he kill it in his amazingly played version of this song, but his voice…. Oh myyyy….like he was meant to sing this song. And after Red said, “Let’s get down Dallas,” we all complied.
Second Set started with In The Eyes Of Thieves and I felt like the spaceship had arrived to carry us all away. Red at the controls and the crowd was on their way. I could literally feel the sound of Jordan’s bass beating against my chest. Might’ve had something to do with the fact that there was a speaker directly in front of me but it sure added to the awesomeness of the experience.
The crowd cheers after this song were so loud and amazingly heartfelt. Next up was Soul to Squeeze which apparently some noobs didn’t realize Spafford covered and you could see that lightbulb go off once they realized they knew the song.
It was Spafford’s Chairman of the Boards’ turn again and I got to hear a new song (for me)… My Road (My Road)….where the Redjam sounds like a laser gun shoot-out. I got so lost during this jam I thought I heard The Song I Heard the Ocean Sing… Just when I start wondering, "Is this still My Road?" Brian comes around with that familiar riff and I’m like, "Oh yeah… it is." Honestly, there was a bit of a chomper problem and it seemed to escalate during Hollywood which was a bummer. Red closed us out with an amazing Slip and Squander that seemed to shut the chompers up a bit (never enough though).
Our encore was Galisteo Way and at the end when Brian encourages everyone to sing along with him we were ALL just screaming at the tops of our lungs. It was awesome!!
At the end of the show I proceeded to walk around and slap Nerds. It was so much fun giving “I’m Killing It” stickers to certain individuals I’d seen doing just that. It actually reminded me of “back in the day” when I would go to Grateful Dead shows. I liked to stand in a doorway with some kind of sticker. It didn’t have to be anything special. I remember once I got a grocery store clerk to give me a roll of Chiquita banana stickers. Another time it just said “FRESH.” Everyone who walked by I would sticker. And they would look at it and smile like it was the best thing ever. Ok, so there might have been drugs involved but it sure was FUN! That’s how I felt that night slapping Nerds with “I’m Killing It’s.” The parallels are many.
I like to vote an MVP for my show experience when I go see someone live. If it’s a run of shows, each show might get a different MVP or there may just be an MVP for the entire run. For me, a STRANGER in Dallas, this show’s MVP wasn’t even in the band. And it’s a tie among four total strangers who became my besties that night …. Christine & Josh, G & Manu. This was my first solo show in quite some time as with our amazing music scene in The Valley, it’s hard to get out to a show where I don’t know someone in the audience and I’m always with my love/best friend any way. But these fucking guys … made me feel so completely welcomed and it was as if we’d all known each other for years and I seriously can’t wait for the next time we can connect. This is what this band does…. Aside from the amazing music we all love, they generate such a loving wonderful environment that brings us NERDS together.
Great Job Heidi!
Sweet review Heidi! Thanks!!!
Great review and it was great meeting you as well!
Hope to see you again when Spafford rolls through Dallas.
Love ya Heidi, had a blast at the show.....I’m 100% certain I’ll see ya again! Have fun on NYE!
Fantastic review @Heidi-Saller! I felt like I was along on the ride with you and got a taste of the dancealicous hijinks. And I could't agree with your last statement more... there is an openness, a kindness, a humbleness that emanates from this band that allows all of us, Nerds and band alike, to have the best time at these shows... something special and magical indeed; something I never got to experience with the full GD lineup. I hope one day I'll make the Spaff-hajj to The Valley and I'll be first in line to get slapped by you at the door!
As a Deadhead who saw has seen his share of GD shows, I can completely relate to the parallels you mentioned in your review. In fact, it was the band's unique selection of covers (not just GD) that initially raised my eyebrows, even before I'd heard what they were truly capable of live. Great review, thanks for sharing.
I agree with everything that has been said. Thanks!!!
Heidi, we need to meet at a show one of these days! My girlfriend was present for this show and was amazed by it. Thanks for putting pen to paper or keystrokes to Microsoft office, loved reading the review!