Review: 2017-11-17 - Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA
Just a disclaimer, I can be long-winded so I broke up the review so you can read what you’re most interested in.
Well, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
Spafford in Los Angeles, sounds like a great Friday night, right? Let me tell you it was. I was fortunate to be able to make it, just a short seven hour drive from Phoenix. When Spafford announced their Fall Tour it was this and the next night that I circled on my calendar! For those of you that don’t know me I’m a huge live music fan. My younger years were dominated by punk rock. I can’t define my music taste except for a few dislikes, which include top 40, modern country, and most modern rap. I’ve been a huge Spaffnerd since about 2014 with this being my 24th show, first time I’ve ever streamed, and according to Spaffnerds.com the 7th time I’ve seen them this year in 3 different states. Props to this website for all the stats!
We left Phoenix the morning of the show and made it to Los Angeles before the- as rumor has it- unbearable traffic. Checked in and noticed a familiar tour bus parked next to the hotel and I knew we had arrived! It was early afternoon and I noticed the crew loading into the Teragram (Margaret). Road tripping is always fun, listening to recordings of previous shows on Nugs and Archive always sets the mood for an epic evening.
A few other Nerds from Arizona made it out as well and we all met at the Monty Bar right next to the venue. Cool little spot, craft beer and cocktails with old-school movies playing on the back wall. Really cool staff and just the place to grab pre-show drinks. If you ever go to the Teragram stop by-- it’s stumbling distance! Not going to brag about running into band members before the show at lunch/ early dinner that day or meeting potential sit-in guests, I’ll save that for later. I did, however, try to confirm rumors that there would be sit-ins but I was met with shoulder shrugs from a few members of the band. I also wanted to mention that I got a family member of mine to their first Spafford show. I have a cousin that lives in Los Angeles and mentioned to him that he should check it out-- I don’t think he was disappointed.
I was really excited to check out Shaky Feelin but only caught the last song. I was trying to coordinate with the evening's taper, WarfatJoe and Arizona legend Grout to figure out how to set up a stream for everyone. Here is where I will give huge props to Streamers and Tapers. It is not easy to get all the gear inside (I hade a phone and a mic, so no big deal, also thanks Louis), set things up or get approval from the venue. I thought you just needed approval from the band, alas I was way off. Lots of ins, lots of outs, lots of what have yous.
Venue (Not the one that Marty got for his Cycles, btw.) (But decently close to the In and Out Burger, which has tasty burgers.)
The Teragram Ballroom is a two-level venue with huge ceilings and around 350 person capacity. Acoustics for me were amazing. Efficient and friendly wait staff running not only the attached café (get the Cuban, it's delish), but also the bar in the back. Really large sound and light board in front of the bar and from what I could tell a decent sized stage. Only gripe I had was that I didn’t realize that the balcony was VIP only and wasn’t allowed to check it out.
Music (Not the fucking Eagles man, I hate the fucking Eagles.) (Also wouldn’t hold out any hope for the Credence.)
The Remedy opened the evening, Brian came out and welcomed the crowd before Red and the band jumped into the song. Looking around, those that knew the song immediately dropped into a grove while others tried to figure out if they should talk about the band or follow our lead. I started a dance off with my girlfriend which I would ultimately lose, but that’s neither here nor there. People followed by the highly anticipated Hollywood, I mean we are in Los Angeles after all. Mind's Unchained gave us some funky jams before bringing the roof down in an epic crescendo before serving us with All In. All In knocked my socks off, Jordan threw down on bass, Red was omnipresent, and Cameron seg’d into Brian transporting us to another stratosphere. It was a great back-and-forth between all the band members, just that perfect jammy, happy, high feeling. All In led to Brian bringing out his brother Geoff for Legend. Just to nerd out for a second, I met Geoff at lunch that day. During the show I ended up standing next to him during the first set and even gave him some of my #killing it stickers, not remembering who he was. Geoff serenaded us all the way to the set break with him and Brian exchanging appreciative looks of sibling approval when one or the other would take over the spotlight. It was truly epic to see them share the stage as I don’t think that they have ever done that, at least in recent memory.
Ain’t That Wrong got us started for Set 2. A ten-minute dance party that peaked with the Raven demanding us to dance just a little bit harder. Pretty sure that Brian suffered 3rd degree burns from that fire and Cameron was able to guide him home before the Raven went up in flames. The last few minutes of this were my personal highlights of the evening. I was barely able to catch my breath before Areoplane made it’s Teragram debut. Eyes closed I didn't know if they had Kedis on stage singing with the rest of the Peppers just jamming out. (I really wanted to make a Flea in The Big Lebowski reference here.) Areoplane sequ’d right into the longest Jam of the evening, Leave the Light On. The end of LTLO took us back to one of my favorite Spafford covers, Mad World by Tears for Fears. Mad World is one of those songs that I never thought could have extended jams and here I sit typing this as I’m proved wrong. It was here I realized that I was losing the dance-off to not only everyone around me, but most importantly to my girlfriend which she was quick to remind me of. Salamander Song was next and the band introduced a sit-in by Brock Butler (Perpetual Groove) on guitar confirming my initial question to Brian that afternoon, that was met with shrugs.
Next to Electric Taco Stand, Salamander is the song I recommend to new nerds. It’s also a great measuring stick to see how much a particular crowd knows Spafford. ‘Hey’ needs to be shouted at the correct time in the song while following Brian’s lead. I must say I was impressed with the LA crowd. I will admit that I’m not as well versed in P-Grove as I should be but I did hear that Red had sat in with them in Denver and Brett was wanting to return the favor. This song gave me huge goose bumps when I remembered that tomorrow Spafford would be back in Arizona. Dancing the whole way home!!!!!!
Beautiful Day closed out the second set but not without tugging on some heartstrings. This has been a crowd favorite for some time and I was really impressed with the sing along that those around me gave the band. The band was firing on all cylinders, Red had the lead with keys and heartfelt vocals. Brian, Jordan and Cameron gave him space when needed but were always there to give the punching explanation mark to the song. Days like these are why I love this band so much and they only come around once in a while.
After a quick break the band returned to encore with another crowd favorite, The Postman. This is a song that gives me chills. Every member of the band gets to shine, not only individually, but also together. I’m pretty sure at this point of the show I was just swaying back and forth trying to decide what air instrument I should pretend to play. With the last 4 notes I couldn’t immediately bring up my hands to clap, I just stared at the gentlemen who had transported me to a jam bliss for the last two-and-a-half hours.
Post Show Notes-
I was floating in a haze of jams and good vibes after this show. I consider myself so fortunate to be able to see these shows, meet the fans of the band and be part of this community. I’ve met some really cool people, traveled to a lot of cool places, and seen some epic live music as a Spaffnerd. Please take time to share not only this band but also the community with others. Also check out the recording of the show, I was really fortunate to meet the taper and share stories of the band with him! People, Nerds- I can’t stress enough how cool of a community this is, how much I appreciate you all and how much the Tapers mean to me. Thanks for being such awesome ‘Nerds! See you at the next show.
I really wanted to end on a Big Lebowski quote, but instead I’ll take one from Rufus in Bill and Ted (filmed in AZ) – Be excellent to each other.
Far out, man. (Ha! I did find a TBL quote to use!)
Thanks for reading!
Great review Martin! It really tied the room together...did it not?
Grate stuff Martin! Thanx for sharing. You're damn right. This is a great community. Nice meeting you up in Flagspaff. Lookin forward to NYE run here in Phoenix!!!
"...Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about Martin here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's Martin, in Los Angeles."
Thanks for making an awesome sandwich out of all the best things there are.
@Johnny-Love thanks for the kind words. I’ll be in seclusion in the west wing until the next show.