Review: 2018-03-16 - Barkley Ballroom - Frisco, CO
RadiantDarkness last edited by Johnny Love
Coming into this Colorado mountain run, I had extremely high expectations considering the remote and intimate setting. Somehow Steamboat shattered those expectations so I went into Frisco with a blank slate. Spafford completely mangled my sense of judgment so all things became possible again.
That excitement led us to thinking the show started an hour earlier so we walked our way to the venue before doors had even opened. As luck would have it, Brian and Jordan were hanging outside so a few us got to chat with them. In the brief moments I do interact with the band, I rarely fanboy or gush over their prestige but tonight we all felt responsible to congratulate their magnificence the night prior. Of course, these guys were radiating with a wondrous glow but remained gratefully humble in their accolades. They did joke they were "bored" of playing their songs the previous night. We joked back to let us know the next time they are bored so we can make sure we are there. And blasted, they were summoned inside, so we decided to walk back to our hotel since doors weren't even open yet.
Blip to about 45 minutes and lots of laughs later and another lucky moment strikes. As I'm getting let in the door to the Ballroom, Red is walking in a different door and we exchange heartful waves! The epitome of a cool cat, Red grabbed me and led us into the green room. It's just Red and Cam back there so I took the moment to praise them as best I could without feeling silly. Lucky day indeed as I love both these guys. Red has so much heart, I always feel blessed that he finds the time to talk to me while Cam hasn't even been in Spafford for a fucking year and the band has evolved so fast that it's hard to believe they haven't been playing together longer. Time flies and out of nowhere I hear Brian call out 5 minutes to showtime so I find my jacket and go look for my friends out on the dance floor!
Having now talked to all the band members prior to the show, I was super amped up for it to start. I knew we weren't getting another Old Town Jam but I also could sense they weren't going to come out flat. They all had a swagger about them. Cool summer breezer blowing through each strand of hair one by one is the best way to describe it. That's how cool these guys played it.
The first set starts out with a top echelon People that immediately straps the crowd in for the first rollercoaster ride of this highly spontaneous evening. The band quickly locks into a groove, with Cam pounding away, leading us into a blistering jam that is reminiscent of pieces of the Old Town Jam from night prior. Right out of the gate, the band weaves together so tightly in a loose abandon of improvisational genius.
After a scorching People, Aeroplane flies right on in to cool things down with its outro jam. This jam starts out gentle. A very relaxing gesture serenading the attentive into a contemplative gaze. It allowed me to paint the dust of the stars through the gateway of dance. It's one of those jams that can make you so happy that all the walls start to break down and the dam of tears flows its river of grace. Just as the night before, they seamlessly switch gears right into the next jam without blinking an eye. So the second attraction of the evening, Aeroplane, already has spawned into a multi-faced gem of a jam. In the next section, Brian isn't as out front, giving the rest of the band space to spread their wings. They really get the groove going and the whole crowd sways in unison. With the rest of the band just about coming to a stop, Brian keeps the plane moving, and we get our third movement of this attraction with the band playing off Brian. After a playful minute or so, you can clearly see he's leading the band into All My Friends....like a fucking boss. He gives everyone a full minute or so of playing around with the riff before dropping into it.
There may be songs written on this setlist but there's a lot of JAM in-between them all. Bee Jam gives us 10 more minutes of that sweet honey. It starts out real slow, slowly building and building to another moment where the whole band is locked in, sending us to another peak in the amusement park.
We don't get a glorious segue but the band quietly finds their way into Leave The Light On next. The first jam builds into another showcase of Brian's shredding abilities. The second jam starts with Red working some of his magic and sends us off on another fine jam.
My friends all found it funny and poked at me when Todd's Tots started second set. It's ok.
The Remedy got us right back into the groove. The band finds a quick exit strategy and takes us back into its bosom. The Remedy has that swagger where the whole band lets go, allowing the music to play. Not even 6 minutes in and we catapulted to a soaring peak and then plateau for a bit, waiting for the next moment to spark. In this interlude, we have Brian making his guitar sing a song of love with Red adding his vibrant color to the mix. Amongst all the beauty, the band eventually steps their way right into the next jam. Another jam that has multiple breaths about it.
Lovesick Melody > Soil got nice and weird. A great number to dance to once it gets moving. Cam gets on the edrum and the whole room starts swirling about. Hot damn this gets sexy! Red's tossing out some alien psychedlia while the rest of the band makes sure the crowd keeps the ship spinning. Slam! Brian slays us into another platonic crescendo as we crash back into Soil.
The Postman to close down the set. Definitely wasn't thinking about Tots to open the set as Postman's vocal came to a close. Don't worry, though-- Postman delivers the goods as usual.
So there ya have it. Steamboat > Frisco as the meat of the Mountain run. There's a whole lotta extra jam pouring out of that sandwich with every bite. Huge shout out to our crew for completely obliterating the dance floor and being a powerhouse of positivity, as always.
Radiating Spaffnerd love to Tara Gracer Photography for the amazing photos.
@RadiantDarkness Hope to see you on the other side of "the gateway of dance" someday soon :) thanks for your review... it's a sprinkle of Spaff-magic to live off till my next rendezvous