Review: 2018-08-18 - St. Augustine Amphitheater - St. Augustine, FL
The Oldest City in America! When I looked through the tour list after Spafford announced they would be returning to the road with Umphrey’s, there was one show that called to me. One show that I knew if I was going to catch them at all this tour, it would HAVE to be that that show in St. Augustine.
For those who have never been, I personally think St. Augustine is the best city in Florida. In what other state can you dangle your feet over the bay while sitting on a moat wall built in the 1500s? So much history, so much peace, and so much fun. I used to live there and the thought of seeing Spafford rip up the same stage I used to perform on as an actor made me giddy. A home show away from home. And I also would get to introduce a good friend to my favorite Florida city. Let’s do it!!!
I stopped and received my pit wristband from the very friendly amphitheater attendant just as Spafford kicked into the opening notes of Eternity. “Damn! I’ll never get close to the front now,” I thought. But when we rounded the corner of the food booth I saw hardly anyone standing in the pit. Dancing down the steps, across the pit floor, all the way up to the 2nd row back from the rail. “Let it play straight from the Heavens, bring that joyful music raining down on me.” Eternity was a nice little warm-up. It’s not necessarily one of my favorites songs but this eternal city on the Florida coast seemed to be calling for it. As the song comes to an end, I look around. The S’nerds are into it, but others seem to be just waiting for Um and talking.
Then I hear coming from the stage that funky strut rhythm. Wow! Could they really be dropping a Double-Time right now?! Yes, yes, they are. A smile stretches across my face and the funk fills my booty and my body begins to really jam. Funny thing is, those talkers and folks just hanging out, they begin to move too. Jordan’s bass sounded extra crisp to me. Strong and clear with a nice mix overall. Double Time is the song that woke everyone up…including Brian. During the short jam section, the Moss face started. Tongue out, jumping up and down, this is when the feeling hit. On the short side, but full of feeling.
Double Time ends and both Jordan and Brian step back on the stage to let Red take the stage. With a soft rolling key intro, it could only be one song…Beautiful Day. I felt this one coming before the show. A sunny Saturday, with few puffy clouds in the sky, it almost screamed for a Beautiful Day to settle out the hard funk before it. As Red winds into the song a guy standing next to me asks what they have played already. I tell him the list so far. “Is this Beautiful Day they are rolling into?” my new friend asks. “Yessir it is!” I hand him some of my St. Augustine slaps and a Dis Go pin that I had on me. He smiles and says “Awesome! They played this in Orlando.” Red’s voice is spot on today. It’s strong and clear and just floats over the melody. The “old school Badshoe “T” was replaced by “New school.” Wish I could have heard it but the chompers standing next to me on the rail overpower Red, and I couldn’t catch it. Hopefully we will hear it on a recording.
Beautiful Day ends and there are some nods from Brian to the rest of the boys and they break into the next song. At first, it's as if my ears don’t believe what they hear. “Holy Great Gaps, Batman!!! It’s a Virtual Bean Dip.” All of a sudden I get a tingle up my back. I know they haven’t played this one in a bit so this feels special. This would be the song that all the boys seem to really connect too! Watching Brian and Cam communicate non-verbally during this tune was amazing. The jam seemed cohesive as a whole and they were really paying attention to the small things. Cam’s fills seemed more confident now, or maybe just more warmed up. I don’t know exactly but they definitely feel at this point that they have hit a groove they really like. The crowd feels it too as they have stood up, even those in the nearly empty seats have begun to dance hard.
VBD begins to mellow out and there is a shift in the drums. An island rhythm begins to form and there can be no doubt for those that know. For the first time it feels as if we might get a bleed. Slowly the change comes. Next change comes from Red and now there is certainly no doubt. They finally drop into Salamander Song after a fairly long and patient bleed. Even those who are only partially familiar with Spafford know this one and the whole crowd begins to dance. A nice version of Salamander and they carried over the connection they had found during VBD. The song is blissful and upbeat and leaves everyone "dancing the whole way home." The crowd breaks into applause and those of us at the rail begin yelling our heads off thanking the boys for the show.
I’m waiting for them to walk off stage before I leave my spot but, Brian turns and looks out at the sound board area with a face that seems to say, “One more? Do we have time?” A look over to stage left another glance back to the soundboard. You can see Brian say “Yeah?” and Red sits back down at the keys. YES!!!! One more final song. What will they play? They are talking among themselves for a second and all of these hopeful ideas float through my head. There was one song besides Broken Wing I was hoping for. Then, as if my thoughts had been beamed directly into their heads, the opening of Hollywood. I have been waiting to hear this song for a minute now. Not a long version but a tight one. Again I have to remark at the boys communication on stage. The way they listen and respond during songs is something I haven’t seen to this degree in a long time from a band.
The set ends with a cute little finality and I stand there, wrapped in the warm Hollywood fuzz they left me with. They played a range of song from the get downs to the lyrically driven and it’s that range that makes me continue to follow this band around the country. I thought that maybe the Umphrey’s fans were waiting till closer to the start of Um to come in, but even when they came on the St. Augustine Amphitheater was still somewhat empty in the back. If you ever have a chance to see a show at this venue, TAKE IT! The venue itself is small but beautiful, and the city is amazing place to spend a few days. Moe. and Widespread will be playing there later in the year just FYI.
After the show I pull out my phone to see just how long it’s been since Hollywood was played and I’m surprised to see some of the gaps. Eternity was last played on 2018-03-10, Double Time last played on 2018-03-14, Virtual Bean Dip last played on 2018-03-11, and Hollywood last played on 2018-03-07. That’s a hell of a lot of gaps dropped on this show folks and some of those songs people have been waiting to return. Loved the easy feeling of the show to match the easy feeling that St. Augustine gives you. I left the city relaxed, centered, and totally excited for what they might drop at Lockn’!!!!! I’ll see you ‘nerds in Virginia!!!!!!!
Awesome review @ClanW ! I love the sound of this set, can’t wait for it to drop. My wife lived and studied in St Aug for a few years ... I’ve never been but she frequently tries to sell me on moving there. If Spafford keeps playing the shit out of FL, I may take her up on this :)
@Johnny-Love It's a feeling of what Florida is supposed to be as far as I'm concerned. Other than the possibility of hurricanes, it's damn near paradise. Any time they play there, I'll be there.
@ClanW Damn good review of the show, it was like i was right next to you the whole time.....wait a minute i was! Another great show of many that we have seen together, and yes deff a great city that i have not stopped talking about since we went down, cant wait for October in the Ville gonna be a sick week!