Review: 2018-12-30 - The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ

  • Setlist, Attendance, and Recordings for: 2018-12-30 - The Van Buren - Phoenix, AZ

    My review for Night One of the two-night New Year run at The Van Buren is a story about a Florida Nerd, his Florida Nerd crew, and our experience in Phoenix. Here are some things I knew going into the first show of the 2018 New Year’s run.

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    One, I love this band. Two, I am going to see my favorite band in their hometown. Three, I would be meeting some of my fellow Florida Nerds in Phoenix. We Florida Nerds, myself, Josh, Billy, Nia, and Vanessa dubbed ourselves The Florida Contingency. What I did not know was how would the Nerd Herd react to and welcome my Florida crew? The answer to my question was answered immediately upon arriving at The Hyatt in downtown Phoenix. I got out of my Uber and immediately saw the faces of happy and welcoming Nerds. This was the running theme for my experience over the course of the next two days. The exuberance and warmth shown by all of the OG nerds towards myself and my crew was overwhelming.

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    Upon arriving at The Van Buren you could feel the excitement. Everyone waiting in the unexpected cold of the Phoenix air knew we were in for a treat. The night’s theme was A Beautiful Day, and many participated in the theme by wearing bright colors. While waiting I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Rose. Jon and I were familiar with one another from the Spafford Prints Facebook group. The gratitude Jon showed us for being there was amazing. Jon took time from his busy pre-show routine to talk to us and I will never forget this. This is a review of night one but I must mention something Jon did on night two. Before the night two show started he came down to the rail to thank The Florida Contingency for being there. He told us the story of his beginning with the band, the white light moment, the exact moment he had his vision as an artist and his place within the Spafford family, years ago while hearing Windmill. Mr. Rose I will never forget this story, it reminded me of an experience of my own.

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    Of course traveling from Florida my crew had to have the VIP package. For myself and the people I traveled with I feel that it was worth the small amount of extra money. The tacos were delicious- I mean, anytime you are offered cilantro for your taco you know you are dealing with authenticity. Once we had our fill of Tacos we were allowed inside for the sound check.

    The Florida Contingency went separate ways upon entering. Josh and I got in the merchandise line to score the on-point print from Mr. Jon Rose. I love this print. The Zodiac signs and colors are perfect. Jon Rose has continuously brought the heat with each new print. Nia, Billy, and Vanessa secured our spot on the rail, right in front of Red. It was a spot we would cherish for both shows. From the first notes of sound check all the way to the last notes of sound check the crowd bustled with a massive amount kind energy. It was an energy that I honestly rarely feel at shows in Florida and I loved it.

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    Finally, the band came out onto the stage. There was an instrument swap going down. When the dust settled and the night’s first song, Jailhouse, began Red and Cam landed at their respective homes, Brian had bass duties, and Jordan played guitar. At least ,this is how I remember it shaking out. This was the night’s first bust out. I have seen it discussed online how a Sublime cover would suit this band and these discussions were on point. Jordan had lyric duty and he nailed it. The “had to be there” refrain was fitting for The Florida Contingency. We all made a choice of where to celebrate New Year’s and we chose Phoenix. We were exactly where we were meant to be.

    The night’s second offering was Windmill. This song is a favorite of mine. The crowd was ebbing and flowing. Kindness was everywhere and when I looked around I could feel the energy of a thousand smiling faces lifting me to move. I believe music is something we all feel. That is why I go to shows. I want to feel emotions that only music can bring out of me. On this night this first happened during Windmill. When the chills kick in and my tear ducts welled up I knew I was home. As the song goes I was accepting the mood of the new grooves. I was thinking and dreaming again but I was far beyond fine. After the song Brian stated “That’s all I’ve got for now.” HaHa, lies.

    Next up was Backdoor Funk. More crowd undulating and for me it was the first time of the night I really heard Red on keys. Red’s got soul and I will leave it at that. I love the way the song’s funky beats build. Of course the crowd loved it. It was during Backdoor Funk that I again realized how special the crowd was. Everybody was intently sharing space, chomping was low, and The Florida Contingency was making new friends. We met Dan, Lisa, Ray, more nerds than I can name, all amazingly generous and kind. It was during the face melting climax of Backdoor Funk that I earned my first Killing It slap. I had arrived.

    The common binding between People like me and you on this night was our love of this band and their music. The crowd was acting like a singular tribe at this point of the show and it was love holding us together. As usual Red crushed vocal duties but none of us knew what was yet to come from Red on this night.

    Eternity, damn right all my roads led me right here. I did not recognize the faces in the crowd but they kindly let me in. The music was coming straight from the heavens and we all belonged. I truly believe that the kindness of the herd will grow to legendary levels, we will be heard, and we will create the change Jordan sings about in Eternity.

    I alluded to vocal greatness from Red in my blurb on People. With the night’s second bust out we got it. We got to witness the amazing ability Red has vocally. (Not that we didn't already know, but reminders are fun.) Whipping Post closed out set one and I really have no words. This song was simply brilliant. They crushed it and I believe this song was a highlight for many in attendance. I would not be disappointed in the least for this song to make regular appearance.

    For me, set break is special. Five years ago I was hopelessly lost in addiction. The only reason I went to shows was to ingest whatever was put in front of me. Now when I go to a show it is to embrace my spirituality and the creation of the All My Friends group has added something special to Spafford shows. At set break I went to the All My Friends table and was blessed to find a dozen sober nerds laughing, shaking hands, and killing it sober. It was another special reminder of the hospitality I was continuously shown by everyone in Phoenix. Being able to go to a meeting like this at set break is incredible. I hope to see this group continue to spread the word and grow. I assure you it is possible to kill it in sobriety.

    All My Friends – Set two began with All My Friends and I feel I need each and every nerd in the room. I’ve come to believe that you nerds are my chosen tribe and we have all our days ahead. Musically this song was a perfect set up for what was to come. All our days were most certainly ahead.

    I’ve got to lump the next group of songs played into one. Bee Jam > Weasel > Palisades > Weasel…… Earlier in the night Dan had told me the story of how the Bee on stage was born. Dan mentioned we were approaching the Bee’s one year anniversary on New Year’s. It was a great story and telling it was another example of the love shown to the Florida Contingency by the OG nerds. I love the dance vibe Spafford emitted throughout the entire show but the beats of Bee Jam get me. If you are not moving you must be dead. Jordan’s bass is mesmerizing, Red's keys get into my head, Cam is a beast, then Brian goes full guitar face right into Weasel. More beats I can only describe as electro-disco followed. I will not have a difficult time remembering this Weasel. The crowd was getting down. I do not think there was a person in the room not moved to dance. It was special for me to witness. Personally, I focused on Jordan’s bass. Admittedly, this was only my fifth show but I had never seen Jordan so into it as on this night. I heard he was using a new four string bass, but I am certain he was feeding off of the crowd as he furiously threw down his juicy bass lines right into the gentle sounds of Palisades. I wrote earlier about the feelings I get during the music. Palisades is all feelings for me. I get so emotional during this song. It is difficult for me to explain but I think about where I have been and where I am going. My entire life plays out in my head during this song and right at about the time my head might explode the music goes right back into Weasel. More electro funk dance beats. I loved it and so did everyone in the room.

    Next up was Plans. There was a feeling in the air that all of our plans led us to the exact spot in time where we all came together as a bunch of nerds. Nobody in the room made a mistake or lost their way on this night. We came together for our love of all things Spafford. We made new friends and shared our stories. We came together for a special night and it was beautiful.

    The encore’s first song started with another bust out. Jordan stated he started writing some words down about being on tour and away from home, shared them, and was encouraged to finish his thoughts, thus the birth of Home (One Place I’ll Never Be). This is a cool country song that obviously holds special meaning for Jordan as I could again tell he was enjoying himself. Of course, I love the Florida reference in the song.

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    As previously mentioned the night’s theme was a Beautiful Day. The set list showed that originally Galisteo Way was to be played here but it was here where the only setlist deviation occurred. The boys opted to insert Beautiful Day here and it was indeed beautiful. What a show and what a great start to the NYE run. I want thank everyone I met in Phoenix for an amazing two days. I hope to see many of you in Florida in February.

  • Absolutely SOLID review!!!!! I could not agree more about the music AND the acceptance from all the hometown nerds. We drove from TN and it was unreal how welcome and at home everyone made us feel. There is def something special about the whole thing, from band, crew, all the way down to the fans. I remember seeing communities like this grow in the early 90's when I really started following jam bands. Hell of a tribe to be welcomed into.

  • @ClanW the community absolutely blew me away. I made so many new friends and am stoked to see them all at future shows. The Nerd Herd is kind AF!

  • Just when I though words could not describe how amazing this past weekend was, I read this. The shows were amazing, and the hospitality was definitely a welcomed reminder that there are Spaffnerds everywhere! Looking forward to the Florida run in February, until next time!!!!

  • This review is the bees knees. I'm glad i broke your slap cherry. (i think it was me)…. we LOVED you and your crew. Florida Contingent is a crew to bee reckoned with fo sho! You all most def bring the heat. What a weekend. Next time you all stay at our house..... Love and light to you all. Thank you Spafford, crew, fans, Van Buren et al...… #NERDSRULE

  • @Bee-Man-Dan You are correct! You broke my slap cherry. I got OG'd! Love the love and cannot wait to rage with you and your crew again!

  • I love how you say i OG'd you..... I am not an OG. Just a chubby lil' G. LOL. Rage mode shall be initiated again soon. Take that to the bank.

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    I was in VIP to your left both nights. Looked like you guys were having a blast. I did for a few moments there fear for Nia as it looked like you were pulling her hair out night 1. Night 2 her hair was still entact so no worries. Hope to see your crew out west early and often. NYE is the best possible run you can catch.

  • @stazone Haha, you have me confused with Billy, Nia's husband. He did not fuck up, indeed Nia survived. It was an amazing two nights. I'm glad we all were able to share them. Say hello at the next show!

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    @FL-AF Gladly. And I pulled a TLDR on your OP. Much love has to be expressed over the sound check. 12/30 was 4 jams. 2 during sound check, set 1 and set 2. Great night for sure.

  • That was a hell of a great review if we don’t say so ourselves. Having been there that was exactly how it went down. Great vibes in PHX.

  • @spaffordreviews Thank you! It was indeed an amazing show. See you on the road!

  • @FL-AF said in Review: 2018-12-30 - The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ:


    Finally got to read this! Great job, very inspiring learning about your story. Until the next one! Marc Jablon

  • @mdjabber Thank you Marc! It was great to meet you. I too look forward to many years of road adventures. Be well 🙏

  • Back atcha!

  • Great review. You paint a beautiful picture of your experience. Congratulations on your sobriety and I’m stoked to hear that other folks who have struggled with addiction have a place to support one another at Spafford shows. Very, very cool.

  • @603Brett Thank you. The entire experience was truly beautiful. See you on the road!

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    Thanks @FL-AF! I love your ability to convey the radical acceptance and magical energy that is this community of open, daring, and wonderfully weird Nerds! Love's the common binding! Hope we get a chance to get down in 2019!


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