Review: 2018-05-04 - Nola Republic, New Orleans, LA
Wake up 4am. New Durham, NH. The Live Free or Die State. Responsibly head off to work and achieve for 3 hours. Leave instructions for coverage and proceed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so that I may board the Aluminum Albatross and ferry passage to the Big Easy...New Orleans, Louisiana. Apply lubrication to the mind and soul. So far, we are off to a splendid beginning.
The Spafford of Arizona is performing two late night shows to close out Jazzfest and today is the release of their album, “For Amusement Only.” Months ago, when the shows were announced, I was offered room and board from Team IkoIko and I could not refuse the opportunity to bear witness and experience Nola for the first time.
I won’t bore you with my exploits leading up to the Spafford show, but there were beverages and another unnamed show to get prepared for what lay in store. We arrived at Nola Republic a little before midnight and were the second folks in line. There was a show just finishing up inside the venue so we watched as that crowd filed out and we mingled with some anxious Nerds and a few Nerds-to-be. We were granted entry and I quickly made a beeline to the merch table to procure and thank @Jon-Rose for the incredible print that he did to commemorate the two night stand in the heart of Nola Jazzfest. We were all pleasantly surprised to enjoy the band’s soundcheck, as they were literally getting set up as we came in. A few people quickly noticed that Joel Cummins from Umphrey’s McGee was in attendance and the whispers began, hoping for a sit-in...more on that later.
The show opened with an energetic Dis Go in 5?. I was honestly shocked to hear this in the opening slot, but immediately questioned why? Dis Go makes an incredible opener! Despite having to deal with a canceled flight and driving in from Dallas...the band was in high spirits and full of vitriol. The sonic keyboard opening of In The Eyes of Thieves filled the heavy rafters of Nola Republic and the crowd responded in kind. This was the second inkling that the evening would be special. Following the structured and vocal portion of the song, the band launched into a deep, spatial jam that was accompanied by some spectacular work on the lighting board from LD Ben Factor. As much as Spafford would rule the evening, Factor also showcased his ability to drape music visually in improvisational, expressive fashion.
The first song of the evening off of the freshly released album came in the form of a wonderfully jammed out Leave The Light On. My quick notes from this simply state, “first jam: experimental, second jam: epic psychedelia.” This is where I tell you to go straight to the media player and listen for yourself, because words will honestly fall short of accurately portraying how these jams were crafted.
Fuel made its live debut following LTLO and stuck to the frame of the album. As this song goes into rotation I’ll be curious to see how the band works it up.
The myths became truth when Brian welcomed Joel Cummins to the stage to do work with Red on his expansive rig of keys for Ain’t That Wrong. The two did get right down to business making a funky, groovy double-helix together. Cameron and Jordan added some bump and Untz to the mix before Brian set the Raven free to soar above the rustic timbers.
I could not place why the next tune sounded so damn familiar and I begrudgingly put it down as a question mark. When I awoke this morning(afternoon) I double “doh’d” when I saw that it was Steve Kimock’s Tongue N' Groove. As a long time lover of Zero, KVHW and all things Kimock, I was bummed that I failed to identify it in the moment. I’ll do better, I promise.
It was Red’s turn next as he took us down My Road(My Road) Always a great jam vehicle this offering did not disappoint either. Again, Factor injected his visual enhancements with some phenomenal work on the projection screen directly behind the band. There were many, many smiles and knowing looks exchanged as Red’s haunting vocals brought My Road to a close.
Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man brought the show to a close as members of the band took turns laying down solos on their respective instruments. I will admit I am still very new to the Spafford scene, but this was my first experience seeing Jordan and Cameron take an extended solo. I have it down as “Jordan bass solo, Red key solo, Cam drum solo, Red organ solo."
At almost 4am the band left the stage for a brief break and came back out and opened up the Electric Taco Stand for a blistering encore.
After a few hugs, smiles, and high-fives we made our way out into the early morning streets of New Orleans. It had been a long glorious day and some zzz’s were in order. For all of the trials the band went through to make that show go on, they didn’t let it show. Spafford delivered a spectacular performance in their return to the Big Easy and left it all out there on the stage.
I popped the show on (thanks to @teamikoiko's recording) after reading your review and thought, "Brett's right. Dis' Go is a badass opener." Loved the Tongue N' Groove song, too. I don't know Steve Kimock's music (that I know of) so I'm definitely going to have to check him out. Thanks for the the review, my man (my man)!