Setlist, Recordings, and Attendance for: 2017-10-03 - Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT
Going to shows has always been about so much more than just the music itself. While the music is obviously the central theme that drives it all, I find it important to stay conscious of the experience as a whole. This particular experience began with one of my absolute favorite drives.
The three hour trek from the Saratoga, New York area to Burlington, Vermont is comprised almost entirely of beautiful countryside and scenic mountain views. Having left somewhat late in the afternoon I was able to soak the best of it in under the glow of an awe-inspiring Vermont Sunset.
Upon arriving in Burlington, I met up with my friend, Colleen, who lives in the city. This was her first Spafford show, a S'nerd in the making. Per her recommendation, we promptly made our way to a pizza shop, Mr. Mikes. For those of you who may visit Burlington, Mr Mikes is a pizza shop/bar that is just a couple doors down from the famous Nectars where Spafford killed it back in April. It may behoove you to know that Mr. Mikes is also open well past midnight, super convenient! After inhaling a slice we made our way over to Higher Ground.
We made it to the venue just in the nick of time as the band began Lonely while we were at the will call window. As much as I love the song, I thought Lonely was a bit of an odd choice for an opener, but once the jam picked up there were no doubts.
Coming in hot in the second slot was The Postman delivering the funk as always and officially setting the pace for the night. Next up was Leave The Light On which included some deep type two jams both before and after the final verse. Jordan even treated us to some thick laser beam tones during the exploration. It seems every time I hear that song they take into a little deeper territory than the last. And then, Slip and Squander made an appearance, ending the set. That is where the emotional aspect of this show began for me. The first time I saw Spafford live they played Slip and Squander. I had never heard it before and it absolutely consumed my soul, and has ever since.
"Blue tarp, wild eyed, puddle in my palm." I get chills every time I hear Red sing Chuck's beautifully written words. And the instrumental section that follows carries immense energy every single time. This is where the emotions started turning for me on October third, but the night was very young.
Todds Tots flew out of the gate to open the second set and I was pumped. I love this song! This high flying version had everybody amped up to see what else was in store for this set. Following this was a very cool moment. Red had the lighting director turn the lights up and then beckoned him onto stage. After a bit of confusion and struggle (the stage was not very big) he made his way to center stage for Reds introduction. His name is Ben and it just so happened to be Bens birthday! So, after a rousing version of Happy Birthday sung by everyone in the room, Red sent Ben back to his throne to "make us look cool." And he proceeded to do just that.
The epic All My Friends > Bee Jam > Walls that followed contained the most interesting lighting work I have seen at a Spafford show to date. This venue had much more space behind the band for a lighting director to work with than in other venue Ive seen Spafford in. This allowed Ben to really flex his skills.
For a few minutes somewhere in that 3 song segue the band was in a deep dark ambient jam featuring more laser beams from Jordan and a lot of weird synth work from Red. Ben had the lights on the band off and instead was using the back wall to paint beautiful shapes and make them dance. I was impressed, and captivated. The second set ended with a classic rendition of Electric Taco Stand which left me continuing to chase my Alternate Ending. I felt as if it was a bit of a short second set, but the ensuing moments explained why.
Spafford: 2017-10-03 - South Burlington, VT - E: Tom Petty Tribute – 18:02
During the encore break one of the crew members came on stage and placed lyrics out for each member. "New song?" I thought. Red came back on stage first and began an incredibly heart felt solo. When the chords changed for the intro of Learning To Fly I absolutely lost it. I immediately turned to my left and hugged a perfect stranger. The emotions poured out of every corner of the room during that 3 song encore. Everybody sang and danced, everybody laughed and smiled, and some probably even cried. I was raised on Tom Petty'ss music. He was one of the first acts I saw live and I needed that moment to reflect. I think a lot of other people in the room that night needed it too. When Brian climbed down off the stage in front of me I could not help but hug him and thank him for doing that. Rest in peace Tom.
Some bands stir an emotional magic inside of me. As Ive told others in the past, Spafford has that thing about them that sometimes makes me cry. Im not quite sure what that "thing" is but I will follow it to great lengths. Im looking forward to my future with this band and all of the people who will chase that feeling with me. Heres to many more.