Review: 2018-07-21 - The Peach Music Festival - Scranton, PA
It was After Midnight, and from left to right Red, Jordan, Brian, and Cam were set back 15 feet from the front of the stage in an attempt to keep them and their equipment out of the vertical downpour of rain that had been raging since 6 or 7pm. Far back as they were, there was no defense against the sideways rain and the boys and their crew grimaced their way through a challenging soundcheck. Things were in a rough state on Montage Mountain. I suck at estimating crowd size, so please give me some help in the comments, but I’d say there were about 500-700 rain-drenched and poncho-draped nerds in front of Mushroom Stage at this point.
I stationed dead center up front in the vicinity of @Cody, @Kyle-Burbank, @jaredsusername, Colin (where you @ homie), Mike, Jessica, @RobAF, @mcbwahh, @mdjabber, Bobby Jae (where you @ homie), and a bunch of other fine nerds. Earlier in the day I had the pleasure of meeting @Phokus and @AZCoug in the flesh and they were every bit as cool and embracing as I imagined. I also had the joy of spending lots of time with @diana-quirin. I wish I had caught up with them again for the set but everyone looks remarkably the same in a poncho. Energy was high, anticipation was peaked, and the elements were swirling in rage all around us.
As the set started, the crowd began to sway and bop to a smooth mellow jam that unfolded in surrreal juxtaposition to the fierce weather and conditions that the band and crowd were facing. I imagine when Spafford conceived this setlist and the opening Bossa Nova Jam, they were picturing a warm summer evening with mojito-sipping nerds dipping their feet in the wading pool alongside Mushroom Stage. But with patented patience, Spafford let the jam slowly and smoothly evolve, adding color and flourishes and layers as they went. I failed to take notes as in reviews past, so please litter the comments with your remembrances, but I recall a couple highlight moments of Red working the synth and Brian taking solos. It was a beautiful groove to start the night and it lasted for a half-hour or an eternity, I’m really not so sure.
When the opening notes of Funkadelic broke out, the crowd which had been bopping and swaying with plastered grins erupted in shouts and cheers. The dance party started to get funkier and while the storm was still raging it was clear that the energy the band and crowd had whipped up was a superior force and would win the evening. Again, I’m short on detailed description, but as a highlight I recall an abrupt drop in tempo at one point and Jordan taking a nice solo.
When Electric Taco Stand took off, you don’t need me to tell you the crowd went apeshit, jumping and singing right along as an hour (or eternity) into the show the first Spafford vocals rang out. Brian extended the scat section a little bit although not quite as much as he did at Bonnaroo. I love hearing the way they continue to experiment and take chances and keep things fresh in this way. As the funk gears shifted into the ballistics of Dis Go in 5?, the world was reminded that Spaffnerd crew ain’t nuthin’ to fuck with. The band was playing with as much intensity as I’ve ever seen and if you looked out at the crowd you would have thought you were at a ‘93 Rage Against the Machine show. I think Brian could’ve given Zach de la Rocha a lesson or two in rage face and Jordan was stepping into his bass like he was warming up for a UFC bout. I’m not sure what was going on under the Pavilion at this point but I’m pretty sure it didn’t look or sound like this. Spafford maneuvered back into ETS for the completion of the jam sammich.
I think there was a break in the playing at this point although I could be very wrong, I won’t pretend to have the clear recollection I would like to. I will admit that I dashed off to the Porta-me for some quick relief as the opening bass notes of All In were played. Don’t judge me, I was back in a jiffy. At this point I decided to wander the crowd for other vantages and vibes. Alongside the wading pool to the right of the stage gave me some nice room to move which All In pretty much necessitates. At some point during the jam, Brian experienced technical difficulties with his pedals and was joined by one super-powered mustachioed member of the crew as they knelt down to try to remedy it. At first, the frustration was evident in their body language. But Red, Jordan, and Cam absolutely CRUSHED their trio performance. I can’t wait to relisten to it. Red was raging the synth, Cam was going nuts with his cymbals, and Jordan was an apocalyptic beast of biblical proportions. The crowd was loving every second of it and I think this gave Brian and Superman some relief because their body language shifted to laughter and calm. After some time, the problem was either fixed or abandoned, I’m not sure which, but Brian popped up and jumped back into the jam like the machine-gunner he is. The crowd roared.
At this point, I started to experience some technical difficulties with my body so I took a seat on a low wall at the back of the crowd and watched the rest of the show. I love Scissor Sister’s debut album so I was mightily pleased when Take Your Mama came up next. It was a perfect fit for the set too and the lyrics embodied the muddy messy after hours party going on at the Mushroom Stage.
It was twenty minutes or so till hard curfew and the boys had a long chat before they started the next and final song. Which, as everyone who has seen @PowPhan802 's photo of the originally planned set list now knows, this is because this wild set had gone off the rails into the mystic and there was no longer anytime for the Weasel>Palisades>Weasel, Lovesick Melody>Soil that was written on a piece of paper turned to mush in the rain. The opening notes of The Postman rang out instead and it was a solid choice to fill up the remaining time.
(Thanks @PowPhan802 for sharing this photo!)
The boys took their bows and vanished into the night as nerds embraced and tried to articulate the magnitude of what we had just taken part in before heading back to their wherevers. This particular nerd was extremely lucky to be able to tag along with @Cody, @Kyle-Burbank , and @jaredsusername back to their rental with Colin. I was content and prepared to curl up on the floor but the man, the myth, the legend @Cody had other Plans and blew me up an air mattress and gave me a blanket and pillow that were made out of unicorn wool and angel feathers. My mind slid into sleep with subtle scents and Spafford sounds as @jaredsusername and @Kyle-Burbank played Postman and ETS on acoustic guitar.
This was an incredible night of music and a performance of EPIC proportions from Spafford. The conditions could not have been more difficult and they came out and delivered a monster show. I had the privilege to take shelter in their green room for a little while before the show, courtesy of the good graces of some Spaffamily. Seeing the love and energy that the band and crew and their friends and family bring to this hustle is amazing. Combine that with the love and devotion of fans who raged through a storm to watch this show and it explains why we are on this magical ride through this magical terrain together. Love to everyone who was there and who helped bring this about. Thank you, Spafford!!!
Great review Mr. Love! No one quite captures the written word the way that you do. I’m so glad you got to get down and rage with the Spaffamily. See you in BK this Fall! :)
@603Brett can't wait for that BK action!
Excellent work Simpson!!!
If you will it dude it is no dream! That take your mama was Epic! Thanks for braving the conditions Sir!