Review: 2018-11-10 -Terragram Ballroom- Los Angeles, California
Obligatory, I was there but no one wrote a review, so I will comment. I am writing this 2.5 months removed from the show so if I embellish or forget, oops. Also I am writing this 2 days removed from a major birthday and am looking forward to the tour opener in Minneapolis so to quote Minnesota’s favorite son: “I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if I go astray…”. I may or may not be in full control of all my memory of this show.
Saturday November 10th found us waking up groggy after having just seen the best performance that Spafford has offered to date. It’s hard to argue with the openers Midnight North, but the sit-in Karl Denson, you have to be kidding me! I was still sort of elated that we got treated to that!
A short drive up from Solana we hit Los Angeles and I was told it was a pretty historic piece of road, the Pacific Coast Highway! California is beautiful year round but an easy Sunday stroll up the PCH was almost relaxing and I don’t know if you can say that for any driving in California! We checked into the Mayfair Hotel and then started co-ordinating with all the nerds that we knew that were going to the show. We had stayed here last year and were somewhat disappointed that it was under construction, but the renovations were complete and it was a beautiful art deco hotel with a breathtaking lobby and lobby bar all restored to its 1926 glory! Most importantly, a 2 minute walk to the venue. (pictured is the view from the room and as an inside joke, there is a hair dryer in that bag that has been to 6 cities for Spafford shows in at least as many states and guess how many times it’s been used! Zero.
As a good nerd I had arranged a meet up at a bar down the street so we settled in and got ready for the evening of music and hanging with nerds. Quick pointer, if you plan a meet up, make sure that the bar and or venue you plan on meeting up at will be open. Turns out the bar I had picked doesn’t open until 10p and I was fielding calls from people asking me where we were as they were standing outside the bar only to find out it was closed. Problem solved when we remembered we were staying at the historic Mayfair and they did in fact have a bar, which was soon overtaken with nerds sporting poster tubes.
Now I know I said this last review, it is imperative that you get to the venue early, not only to hear the opener but also to snag a print of the evenings poster. This time around in LA it was another first timer with the print, Joey Feldman. Words don’t do it justice so I will just share an image that I lifted off the Spafford Prints page. I did manage to get some background on the print. Joey is an established artist in the LA area and has done prints for the likes of Pearl Jam and Metallica and had asked about doing a print for the band previously. I think we need to acknowledge Jon Rose as Creative art director at some point. I always enjoy how other artists interpret the band while bringing their signature style to each new print. Not that I need an excuse to buy another print, but it always helps me when I can justify it in some way, in this case a new artist. I know some of you are in the same boat as me so I feel the need to type that.
Travel and meet ups over for the day it was time to get into some Spafford! The Terragram is awesome! I would say capacity of about 500-600 and was at least 2x as packed as the previous year we saw Spafford play there. Boys are getting bigger and everyone says it but I will re-iterate it, soon we will be seeing them at massive venues and these intimate shows will be few and far between.
My Road (My Road) kicked off the evening and it was the perfect opener, clocking in at just under 12 minutes it helps introduce the band to those that might not have heard them before. Lyrically and musically it allows the band to sort of give you a how do you do, this is what you’re in store for. Jams, vocals and everyone sort of takes over for just a second before returning to the collective jam and if you’re playing along on Spaffnerds.com it was the 4th time I’ve heard it live the last being a few weeks prior in Flagstaff. I’m going to mention the site again a few more times through out this review but make sure you are over there, or more rather here tracking your stats. And then just as you thought they were going to play this one quietly and let rob you of a high energy jam sit tight until the 11 min mark of the nugs recording, it evolves, escalates and lets you know what you are in store for! I’m not going to try and write creative reviews of the jams, go listen to it!
When it Falls was next up. A newer song that only saw the light of day this year and always gets me dancing, it almost opens with the crescendo of drums ( think I’m using that term correctly). The lyrics “I will find my purpose once again” leaves me wondering who is talking or why they wrote that. Brian finds a new theme within 2 seconds of that lyric and then the band takes over and it always stands out to me that Cam is hitting the Bass just a little bit harder. I love that particular theme that Brian plays, it even makes multiple appearances in the song front to back, back to front leaving me guessing how I am supposed to be getting down/up during this song.
Electric Taco Stand My most witnessed and my favorite song to turn new people onto. There is a version from 2012 I believe from the Sail Inn that I still love. As the times go by always gives me the goosebumps and while everyone is playing their hearts out on this song red still gets me with the super silky keys. ETS also has some of the most debated lyrics of any Spafford Song. BRRRRRRTTTT is my personal interpretation but I’m not here to tell you what it is, just give you my feelings on this. The jam that follows is epic, while Jordan is keeping the overall theme of the song it seems that everyone else is exploring other jams while keeping it cohesive. I may be wrong but the end part of this song might be some of my favorite keys I heard over the weekend, again go listen to it! Also I need to speak to Brian’s luthier, I don’t think I have ever heard a guitar play notes that high. This is just an epic song and like other ETS’s before it, never played the same 2x. It was at this time in the show I realized I was in a puddle of tears of appreciation. My fav band in LA, a huge contingency of nerds and everyone just getting down. Perfect moments exist and they happen as the times go by.
Made for Wesley followed and I had to look this up has only been played 4 times and as it turns out is a cover of the Jimmy Rosenberg Trio and also my first time hearing it. After listening to the original I am blown away how much better it is with piano. Cold listening one would think that it is made for Red. Nope he made it his own. In the original there are no keys and Spaffords rendition is head and shoulders above the original, just this nerds humble opinion. Have I ever mentioned that I am always blown away by what the band decides to cover? I know they recently did a poll on what they should cover via text, I put in my thoughts but really don’t care if my suggestion of Champage Jam ever gets covered (well I’ll take credit for it if they do). But let them decide what they feel they can cover, I for one am happy to be along for the ride!
Backdoor Funk one of the long time main stays and also one of the most popular songs Spafford does to segue in and out of songs. For me it was a break allowing me to come down from the intensity of the opening songs. For me this song sort of allows you to find yourself again giving you almost 15 minutes to ground yourself in the middle of a show. Take a second to reflect on vitals, heart rate, consumption and head space. Gather yourself during this jam, make sure you are ok before you’re transported away again and embrace the music. If you don’t let me know I will just be on my way!!!!
West L.A. Fadeaway saw the band bringing out Grahm Lesh from the opener. Lesh, I’ve heard that name before. Rings a bell. (I honestly thought I saw his father in the audience and Chuck had to promise me that it wasn’t his dad. I’m still not certain, but I wasn’t able to ask anymore as the person in question disappeared back stage and Chuck walked off). The Dead have been a welcome cover for Sapfford for a long time. I do have to admit at my age I never had the pleasure of seeing the Dead live and was not raised on any Dead. This will get me in trouble but I prefer Spafford’s versions to the originals any day. All that being said I toughly enjoyed this tune. Having another guitar frees up the musicians and they can take the song deeper and jammier than anyone previously had covered it. This was a perfect way to close out the first set.
Red's Jam would be the theme for the second set. One thing that I have never seen a band do it take a theme and bookend it around a set, show or tour. Spafford has done all of these (Ghostbusters, Steak Sauce just to mention a few). I am a huge Spafford fan and sometimes things are lost on me as I am not into other more mainstream bands and their tours. However, for me this was the best segue into a second set that I had ever heard. (fight me in the forums). I was kinda sad that this would be my last 2nd set until New Years Eve run having just come off of shows in Flagstaff, Tucson and Solana. I had always wondered why Red has at least 6 sets of keyboards on stage, well, give this a listen and you won’t wonder anymore. I remember running into Red at show in Phoenix where he wasn’t playing and he told me his wife had told him he was not allowed to buy anymore keyboards, I would bet that if he was allowed a few more we could convince her it is necessary.
Wait what’s that? They are dropping into Weasel? I also thought I heard an on fire tease there as well……Nope its Weasel up next!
Weasel that forgotten space in the back of your mind! I know this isn’t going to be the peak of the evening but they tease it like it is, and then Cam drops the UNZ’s on us. It’s now more of a dance party than Jam band show. I take a small moment to reflect and look around. I can spot new and old, local, traveled and Phoenix Nerds just getting down. It was 6 minutes of pure happiness, and to use the German word; Freude! Weasel is that up beat Jam that just makes you happy you made the trip from Phoenix to hang with friends for the evening listening to your favorite band. Untzes give way to bass to guitar and ultimately to Red laying down synth. Ok I will quote a lyric from another jam band that fits; I was bouncing around the room, literally and physically.
Palisades perfect segue. Now is when Red serenades you while the band tries to over power him. Perfect back and forth into that epic peak. No words needed, during this jam you are where the band wants you, felling just what you expected at a show. The Raven talks to you just to enjoy the experience. Wait, what’s that nope, not again, YES, you’re transported back into Weasel oh, sneaky, I bet you won’t try that again Spafford. I was just jamming to Palisades and telling those around me how much fun it is to just let go and feel the music. As I am writing this months after the fact I am just getting down listening to it on Nugs. Please follow, donate and buy your tickets through this site, Spaffnerds.com I mean Damien makes it so easy. They have been known to do some nugs giveaways in the past.
Just a frame of reference, I stepped away from the computer and just listened to this jam. I don’t think I can stop dancing. I’ve already alienated the dog, neighbors are complaining that their faces are melting, and I’m in a puddle of sweat. Wait what was that Spafford? You jumped back into
Red's Jam. Holy cow, I remember not being able to contain myself before but now, even with a brief time signature change I cannot calm myself. Cam is trying to sound the end of the evening and I’m left with wanting more. The crowd is so loud that the noise is messing with my phone as I was trying to take pictures for the review. I hope that isn’t the end; It might be but the house lights are not on yet…. Lets wait. IS that Brian going back up to the mic?!!! Yes it is
Windmill Oh I always for get how fun this song is. I’m remembering that I had promised you a dance that I had learned at the Mish a few years ago that some new nerds had taught me. Well that will have to wait. Hard intro, driving lyrics and then a mellow jam. You think the evening is over just winding down. In hindsight I know there is about another 12 min of jams ahead but in the moment I never wanted it to end. Simply enjoy the rest of this song, be in the moment don’t chomp and if you have to, let those around you know that you’re glad they are here, give ‘em a hug and let the music wash over you.
I’m looking forward to my fav show, the next one, but am happy to be here practicing my windmill dance, lets get it down together!
Post script; as the show was over, boys took their curtain call there was a contingency of nerds front and center. It dawned on me that we hadn’t gotten a pic pre show so I decided to rectify that. Security was trying to get us to leave and in my loudest voice I got everyone to the front of the stage to take a group pic. Security thought I was important so they let us get some shots with the nerds in front of the stage. Haha. Thanks to everyone who came out, the band for being them and people agreeing to travel with me.