Review: 2018-10-18 - The Basement East - Nashville, TN.
All In It For The Ride
The text messages started rolling in about 9 a.m. “Tonight’s the night my friend! You ready for the get down?” Indeed, I was! And the day would just get better. Already had a planned meet-up with all the ‘nerds coming to town. Next thing we know another good friend decides to drive down that day after seeing tickets posted. Well this just keeps getting better!!!!
6 p.m. rolls around and we head into The Crying Wolf for some pre-show shenanigans. A few folks are there already and by 7, we are conversing with strangers as if we have known them all along. Some from out of town, some who live here, many have never met, until now. Doors open, and we all pay our tabs and walk the block to the Basement East. I see Red standing outside the bus with the Tour Manager(I think, Name?). I run over and hand them a stack of Bee Jam Spamps I had tucked in my pocket. I say “Thank you for all you do!”, shake his hand and walk off to the door. There is a line at the door, good news for the boys, which gives me time to miracle someone waiting with an extra. “Anyone need a ticket?”, I ask. After 3 groups finally someone says yes, I hand them the ticket and go to walk away.
“How much you want for this?”, he asks.
“Fuck that! Enjoy the show my friend!”
“That’s amazing!” I hear the woman say as I walk away. My smile grows wider
We finally get in and I am pleasantly surprised to see this space is much bigger than the original Basement on the West End of town. Way more boogie space. A quick break to the smoking porch and Spafford hits the opening notes as we walk in:
Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand – My friend Larry called this one but not as an opener. At first, I’m thinking, “Wow, maybe we are in for a super spacey show with such a laid-back opener.” Love this cover but never thought of it as an opener. I ease in to the fluid, almost languid melody of the Primitive Radio Gods Cover. The main body of the song drips slowly into a jam section, nice and flowing at first, but then it begins to build. A fiery peak that would set the tone for the evening. A straight pedal down and go kind of feel that leads to one of those softly cushioned drops. I catch Brian and Jordan have a moment here as they look at each other, nod, and smile. The drop slows to a funk strut and eases us right into…
>Backdoor Funk – Had a feeling this one would show up and it graces itself with such an easy entrance. The crowd, a great mix of veterans and noobs, immediately recognizes the shift and cheers. Red absolutely killed this song. I love hearing his cascades flow over the top of the sound, trickle down, and fade back into the soundscape. Truly magical!!!! Again though I notice that they seem to have the accelerator pushed a little more than the last few times I’ve seen them. The non-festy sets seem to have lit another spark among the band as they play to fans that want to hear them open up again. Not that the song was played faster, just that there is a drive and an undeniable energy they are attacking songs with. Cam continues his beast mode on the drum set and BDF finally comes back around to the final verse and gives us the first break of the set.
Sweet – I was so happy to hear this song! Even if it did feel like a quick downshift from the high pace openers. Beautifully played and sung though, and always a pleasure to hear live for me personally.
People – Fuck YES!!!!! I absolutely LOVE this song!!! Tempo was nice and upbeat without being too pushy. Like a lazy river just moving you along towards the river rapids which are just strong enough to rock the place. It seemed like a great way to pick up the feeling again without busting the doors down. Red rips a beautiful solo and drops us easily into the jam. (Here I’m going to rely on notes a bit as I was lost in one of my fav songs but apparently still had the ability to write notes about it.) There was a slow down moment in the jam where it felt like the drivers simply downshifted again without a clutch. Not jarring, but the kind that makes your stomach turn just a bit as your metaphysical self, slows slightly slower than the physical. This leads into a large build as, Spafford does(peaks and valleys). Patient and organic, Cam and Brian find little niches to up it. A flare here a cut time run there and the next thing you know, the familiar melody of people is back with Red serenading us again bringing the song to a close.
Electric Taco Stand – Final rager before set break. I find myself completely excited as I remember this is not a festy set and that there is a whole other set to come. My body, excited by the info my brain has just reminded me of, begins to dance as hard as it can. Brian is on point. Here I finally notice just how good the room sounds. For such a shallow, wide space they have done a hell of a job keeping the sound full and warm. Not one instrument seems to be fighting the other for space. Jordan thumping out rhythm and root notes melded perfectly with the soundscape Red was throwing down which leaves Cam and Brian open to really drive the piece. Not a long, jammy, version, but super tight with that high energy they have had from the get-go.
AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH, Set break!!!! That moment to collect your faces from the floor and go get some fresh air. While outside I run into several friends seeing Spafford for the first time. “I hear the term “Holy Shit!” several times. Walk off to find my group and run into some new friends I met at the meet-up earlier. Then another ‘nerd walks by and we hug, happy that we finally get to meet in person after so many tries. One of the things I think makes this band special is the love that the ‘nerds have for each other. Obviously there are going to be personalities that clash but I have seen so much love thrown around in this group and so much disparity squashed before it could take shape. The community is half of what makes going to see this band so special. I have friends I didn’t even know I had until I met them.
Time for Set II
Aeroplane – Okay, okay. I know there are those out there who hate this cover, I’m here to admit it’s not one of my favorites, but I’m not the type to complain about a setlist choice. If the boys are happy covering it then it means that they will put all they can into it. Aeroplane was pretty standard in my opinion, except for the nice little Jordan breakdown we got in the middle. Love to see them hand it over to Jordan occasionally. My friend Larry leans over to me and says, “Gas pedal!” Indeed, it doesn’t feel that the energy has faded at all. Songs are light and upbeat, clean, and dancey. The jam begins to evolve into something and I can feel a switch coming…
>Double Time – One of the songs that just keeps creeping up in my favs list. This song is crunchy and energetic. Touching on those metal-esque tendencies like weasel. Here you can literally FEEL the energy being thrown back to the crowd as if they were saying, “Thanks for all the love!!! And here’s some right back to ya!” All I managed to write in my notes for this was HARD!!!!!!!! They crushed it!! Brian wailing the melody over heavy handed drums, a thumping base, and floaty keys made this my song of the night. A friend grabs my shoulder and is amazed that this jam band can get so hard and crunchy then fade back to a funky strut before you finish your exhale. Just a lovely rendition of this song that bumped it a few notches on my must hear list.
Diana – A fairly light-hearted Romp through a song that dances on the edge between up-beat and pee break song. Another little gem I was hoping to hear live again delivered to me while I catch my breath from the mayhem that preceded it. Perfect placement for this one I felt.
All In – Shows up next and exclaims the boys are ready to drive this one home. Already I’m thinking this is gonna be the end and I look at my clock. “Damn! They have some time to fill so maybe a jammed-out version?” After the festy performances of this I was kinda hoping for a deep exploration. That wouldn’t be in the cards though. The boys make their way through the orchestrated section and dive into that slow roll of the jam section. My friend and eye take a moment to acknowledge the energy is still high. “Gas Pedal!!!” he says. Indeed!!!! To my surprise the song begins to wind itself up and end. I look quickly at the time and then at my friends. Larry looks at me as if to say, “They still got time for my Weasel sammie!!!,,, but then…
Cleaning Windows – Going to be honest here, this one threw me. I love Van Morrison but not being a massive fan this one is un-familiar to me. At first, I am slightly disappointed but quickly realize that this might be a bust out. A quick sneak at the Spaffnerds.com and I get the title as well as check the times played. Sure enough, only paid twice, the last time 5 months ago. Very cool song and I’m interested to see what they do with it if it continues to show up. I was hoping for an “Into the Mystic” but being introduced to a new Van Morrison song while listening to my, currently favorite hot-handed band, was a huge treat and made me smile.
Space Gadget – No doubt this would be the end to Set II, and what an ending!!!! Love this song and everyone, even those who don’t know it’s coming, love to hear that Inspector Gadget theme at the end. Slightly dark with wonderful depth, SG feels like a great way to end such a high energy show. Of course, everyone smiles when they hit the Gadget section, dancing happily through.
Well, that was fun!!! What would an encore be for this show???
America – PERFECT!!!!! America’s hard, almost grungy, feel was a great cap to the show. Very rarely did they let off the gas throughout the show, and America would go on to get twisted! Screaming guitars over a fast paced beat allowing everyone to get that last bit of dance energy out and leave it on the floor. I was pretty sure they bled right into the next song, I didn’t write notes during encore as I just wanted to let the final song wash over me, so I can’t be certain of this. Bliss over took me for a moment and I sat there gazing at the stage in awe of this band and the community I have found myself being a part of. Setlist say no bleed so we will go with that until we get a recording. Side note – there was at least 1 taper there* To my surprise the boys still had one more left in the tank.
The Reprise – I honestly can not think of a better song, or song title, to end a show with. Light, bouncy, happy, super funky, and the title makes you feel as though the show was capped on both ends. Spafford drops us off into the night feeling completely jazzed, a smile on all our faces!!!
There are some nights you go to a show, where you can feel the energy in the room. This was one of those nights, NAY, it was one of those days. The energy began building in the morning, grew exponentially as the day went on and more pieces attached to the puzzle. People showed up unexpectedly and raised that level higher. The meet-up was top notch and I was so happy to meet some new friends as we carried our personal energies, melding them together for the night ahead. Part of me feels like the guys in the band felt it too. The last time they came through Nashville, which was the 1st time, I think people, including myself as that was my first time seeing them live, weren’t quite sure what to expect. We left that show DAZED & AMAZED at what we witnessed. I immediately went home and bought tickets for the Asheville shows that night…I was hooked!!!
This time, we knew. We had been listening, studying, and traveling, just hoping they would squeeze Nashville in the next solo tour. They did!! We went and we brought a collective energy I haven’t felt at a small show in a looooooong time. I hope they felt it too! I hope they know we want them back in Nashville anytime they want to visit. There are more ‘nerds here than I expected, and there are many new ones after Thursday. Several of my friends called to thank me the next day for the recommendation. Amazing band and an equally amazing community they have grown over the years. As I sit here typing this, singing along to Hollywood with my 8yo daughter who now knows the words to several songs and requests them on a regular basis, I can't help but shed a tear of joy. This may just be that community we all crave in the jam band scene. The one that accepts you on the sole basis that you have music you like in common. Thank you for letting me, my friends, and my children be a part of the ride!!!!
Forever now known as SPAFFVILLE!!!! EAT MORE RHINESTONES!!!
Great review man! Very cool setlist with some interesting choices woven throughout. You and your crew caught a gem!
GOOD review...would've been great had you now referred to Diana as a "pee-break song..." ;-)
Great fucking show!!!! We caught a good one, indeed!!!
@mdjabber HAHAHAHAHA! I don't personally view it as that, but I know those that do, hence why I say that. But I get it. To be honest, I haven't come across a Spafford song, cover or original, that makes me think, "I could use the bathroom now."